Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Committee
Thursday, 4th February, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: MS Teams

Contact: Philip Slawther, Principal Committee Co-ordinator 

Note: This meeting will be webcast - use the link on the agenda frontsheet or copy and paste the following link into your internet browser: https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_ODExODc5MjEtM2M0Zi00NGJiLWJhMzktMTY5ZDBlMzVhYjMy%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%226ddfa760-8cd5-44a8-8e48-d8ca487731c3%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%22f5230856-79e8-4651-a903-97aa289e8eff%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d. 

Items
No. Item

1.

FILMING AT MEETINGS

Please note that this meeting may be filmed or recorded by the Council for live or subsequent broadcast via the Council’s internet site or by anyone attending the meeting using any communication method. Although we ask members of the public recording, filming or reporting on the meeting not to include the public seating areas, members of the public attending the meeting should be aware that we cannot guarantee that they will not be filmed or recorded by others attending the meeting. Members of the public participating in the meeting (e.g. making deputations, asking questions, making oral protests) should be aware that they are likely to be filmed, recorded or reported on. 

 

By entering the meeting room and using the public seating area, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings.

 

The chair of the meeting has the discretion to terminate or suspend filming or recording, if in his or her opinion continuation of the filming, recording or reporting would disrupt or prejudice the proceedings, infringe the rights of any individual or may lead to the breach of a legal obligation by the Council.

Minutes:

The Chair referred Members present to agenda Item 1 as shown on the agenda in respect of filming at this meeting, and Members noted the information contained therein.

2.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions (if any)

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

3.

Urgent Business

The Chair will consider the admission of any late items of urgent business. (late items will be considered under the agenda items where they appear.  New items will be dealt with at item )

Minutes:

There was no urgent business

4.

Declarations of Interest

A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a prejudicial interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered:

 

(i) must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent, and

(ii) may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must withdraw from the meeting room.

 

A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Register of Members’ Interests or the subject of a pending notification must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.

 

Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal interests and prejudicial interests are defined at Paragraphs 5-7 and Appendix A of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

None.

5.

Deputations / Petitions / Presentations / Questions

To consider any requests received in accordance with Part 4, section B, Paragraph 29 of the Council’s Constitution.

Minutes:

None.

6.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 368 KB

To consider and agree the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd December 2020

Minutes:

The Committee requested an update on the Leader providing copies of his correspondence with the La Rose Family. (Action Clerk).

 

Clerk’s update: The letter’s will be provided as part of the final decision making report due to be considered in March. The minutes of the previous meeting on 3rd December, under item 171 paragraph j, set out that “The Leader agreed that he would provide the Committee with copies of these letters as part of the final decision stage of the process”.  

 

RESOLVED

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd December 2020 were agreed as a correct record.

 

7.

2021/22 - Treasury Management Strategy Statement; Annual Investment Strategy; and Minimum Revenue Provision Policy Statement pdf icon PDF 189 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 The Committee received the draft Treasury Management Strategy Statement (TMSS) for 2021/22 and was invited to provide comments on it. The TMSS had already been considered by Overview & Scrutiny Committee and was subsequently due to be approved by Full Council. The report was introduced by Oladapo Shonola, Head of Pensions & Treasury as set out in the agenda pack at pages 13-38. The following arose from the discussion of the report:

  1. The Committee sought clarification around the nature of other sources of debt finance, as set out in section 4.8 of the TMSS. In response, officers advised that this section of the report set out other areas of debt liabilities that can arise aside from Council activities, but that as with all capital expenditure approval will be required before expenditure is incurred or this type of borrowing is undertaken. Examples of this included leases and items bought on hire purchase, such as if the Council were to lease a number of new photocopiers, this would then be reflected in the accounts as a debt liability. 
  2. In relation to the external context section of the report, the Committee queried why there was no mention of Brexit. In response, officers advised that this was a section of the report in which the Council’s treasury advisors, Arlingclose, provided headlines of the key external impacts to the Council. Brexit had already happened and was mentioned later in the report. In relation to a follow-up, officers advised that the need to borrow more because of Brexit was not something that would affect local authorities particularly but may impact central government. 
  3. In relation to the impact of possible negative interest rates, officers advised that the Council did not have much in the way of surplus cash that it would need to generate interest on and so impact on the Council of negative interest rate would be minimal on investment returns. The Council short term borrowing rates would fall in this environment which would likely have an immediate impact on borrowing cost that should offset losses on investment returns. The Committee was advised that negative interest rates may, in fact, have a positive impact on the Council’s long term borrowing  to fund its capital programme.
  4. In response to a question around whether there was any scope for the Council to renegotiate deals with large scale building contractors and other such partners in the event of decreasing interest rates, officers advise that this was something that would be monitored going forwards but that renegotiating contracts would be difficult.
  5. In relation to concerns raised around PFI contracts and the likelihood of entering into new ones, officers advised that PFI contracts held by the Council were all historical, with the most recent being from the late 2000s. These contracts were negotiated when there was significant government funding available to support them, which was no longer available. Officers assured the Committee that there were no plans of entering into any new PFI contracts and that if this did happen it would need  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Audit & Risk Service Update Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 477 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report which set out the work undertaken by the in-house Audit and Fraud teams, as well as Mazars, for the quarter ending 31 December 2020. The report was introduced by Minesh Jani, Head of Audit and Risk Management as set out in the agenda pack at pages 39-51.

 

*Clerk’s note: 20:13 - The Chair had to leave the meeting temporarily. The Vice-Chair chaired the meeting in his absence.  20:18 - The Chair returned to the meeting and resumed chairing.*

 

The following was raised in discussion of the report:

  1. The Committee noted concerns around the limited assurance assigned to the management of cyber risks audit and raised concerns about the importance of cyber security, emphasising the potential consequences to the authority if its cyber security provisions were not robust. In response, officers acknowledged the importance of cyber risk and advised that the reason that there was no date for the completion of the management actions raised in response to the audit findings was that a composite action plan was being developed by the service. Officers assured the Committee that this action plan would be monitored by the relevant director and that the audit service would be conducting a follow-up audit in 2021-22.
  2. In response to a question around patching and whether the Council used a physical server, rather than a cloud-based server, officers advised that the issue in question was server based. Officers clarified that the auditors had conducted testing on all of the IT infrastructure and had identified some areas where the patching needed to be updated/improved. The Chair requested that a report be brought back to the next meeting which provided an update on IT security and the management action taken to date to rectify the issues raised. (Action: Minesh).
  3. The Committee were advised that during Q3, 6 properties were recovered in relation to tenancy fraud, which brought the YTD total up to 16. It was noted that this was significantly behind the annual target and that this was due to Covid impacting the service’s ability to undertake site visits.
  4. In relation to Right-to-Buy fraud, the service had prevented 15 properties proceeding to sale in Q3 and 53 for the year. Officers advised that the service was unlikely to reach its target of 80 for the year.
  5. The Committee was advised that the Council had successfully won a court case earlier in the day around a tenant who was found to be illegally subletting their property and it was estimated that they had made around £19k from doing so. The Court awarded £21k in fines plus costs and the Head of Audit and Risk Management assured the Committee that the service would continue to prosecute similar cases where there was evidence of fraud. The Chair requested that members of the Committee be provided with a briefing on this court case and that it was also promoted through the Council’s communications channels. (Action: Minesh).
  6. In the YTD to December there had been 43 referrals under NRPF.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

New Items of Urgent Business

To consider any items of urgent business as identified at item 3

Minutes:

N/A

10.

Date and Time of Next Meeting

TBC

Minutes:

TBC.

11.

A.O.B.

Minutes:

None.