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Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 257 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of this Committee held on 15 November 2021.


Cllr Tony Linden commented that section 17 should have noted ‘creation of the district council rather than the unitary council’.

Subject to the above comment, the Minutes of the meeting held on 15th November were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 306 KB

To remind Members of the need to record the existence and nature of any personal, disclosable pecuniary or other registrable interests in items on the agenda, in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct.


There were no declarations of interest.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Purpose: To consider the Forward Plan for the next 12 months.


The Committee considered the Governance and Ethics Committee Forward Plan (Agenda Item 4).

In response to a query the Monitoring Officer promised Members an update on the work of the Constitutional Working Group at the next meeting. It was added that a code of conduct review would form part of the work of the constitution review task group.

RESOLVED: the Committee note the Forward Plan.


Internal Audit Update Report pdf icon PDF 236 KB

To update the Committee on the outcome of Internal Audit work carried out during quarter two of 2021/22.


Additional documents:


The Audit Manager presented a brief overview of the report (Agenda item 5). Members’ attention was drawn to section 4.5 of the report that concluded that there were no significant issues of concern identified over the relevant period.


Members thanked the team for their hard work over the past year.


In response to a query it was clarified that follow up audits were undertaken as a standard action for any previous audits which had identified ‘very weak’, ‘weak’, and some ‘satisfactory’ findings.  


It was reported that the follow up audit work all looked reasonably healthy with progress made.


Agreed action:


It was clarified that gaps in the update position of the Anti-Fraud Work Plan were due to work not having commenced at the end of Quarter 2.


It was suggested and agreed for completeness that comments to this effect would be added to future reports.


RESOLVED: the Committee note the report.



External Audit Plan and Fee Financial Year 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 230 KB

The report informs members of the proposed 2020/2021 external audit fee and proposed external audit plan for 2020/2021. 

Additional documents:


Mr Iain Murray, representative of the Council’s external auditor Grant Thornton presented the Audit Fee for the Financial Year 2020/21 (Agenda item 6).

Members’ attention was drawn to the ‘Significant risks identified’ section of the report (pages 33-35), all of which were risks that auditors were required to class as significant in accordance with established underwriting standards.

It was reported that the National Audit Office had recently introduced a new code of practice which had led to a slight change in the ‘Value for Money work’. Further, Mr Murray commented there were ongoing conversations with the Public Sector of Audit Appointments (PSAA) and local government in relation to establishing a sustainable level of fees to meet expectations.

On the above basis, it was reported that Grant Thornton were proposing an audit fee increase to £131,523 for 2020/21.

A Member clarified that the Council approved its budget in March 2020 and not February 2020 as detailed on page 31 of the agenda pack.

It was queried how a slight change to the Value for Money work could result in a fee increase from the previous year of £26,000, and a further sum of £17,000 for the Financial Reporting Council’s requirement for more robust testing.

Mr Murray commented that the Value for Money changes were quite fundamental and that he had misspoken to suggest that they only incurred a ‘slight change’. It was reported that new requirements imposed by the National Audit Office were far more specific and set out a broader baseline requirement to review arrangements in place at an authority. Reporting was more onerous requiring an audited annual report commenting on the council’s arrangements and providing an assessment of all of these arrangements, in contrast to the previous approach of reporting by exception. 

It was further reported that ISA 540 prompted a move away from ‘professional scepticism’ to ‘professional suspicion’, requiring far more challenge to management in terms of justifying estimations.

In response to whether there were any more forthcoming changes likely to affect the following year’s fee, Mr Murray commented that to his knowledge there was nothing imminent.

The Executive Director for Resources commented that the council’s audit fee for 2011/12 had been £231,000, which had then reduced to £127,000 a couple of years later. It was commented that the Redmond review had resulted in significant pressure on external auditors with an emphasis on improved quality reporting and a move away from such low fees.

It was commented that the PSAA published scale of fees appeared to bear no resemblance to the increased workload implications.

Mr Murray commented that the PSAA scale had been published prior to the regulatory change, which had put them in a difficult position and that in all likelihood this would lead to a moving scale in the future. 

RESOLVED: the Committee note the report.


Financial Year 2021/22 Mid-Year Treasury Report pdf icon PDF 920 KB

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s Treasury Management in the Public Services: Code of Practice (the CIPFA Code) which requires the Council to approve treasury management semi-annual and annual reports. The report provides an overview of the treasury management activity for financial year 2021/22 as at 30th September 2021.


The Executive Director for Resources introduced the report (Agenda item 7). 

In response to a query it was clarified that the quoted Bank Rate of 0.1% was correct at the time and period that the report was written (as at 30th September 2021).

In relation to report point 4.5 and 5.11 a member commented that the council was founded on 1st April 1974 and merely changed its name in 1998.

RESOLVED: the Committee note the report.


Member request for information pdf icon PDF 391 KB

The report considers a request by a Member of Council for access to information under a procedure detailed in the Council’s Constitution at paragraph 13.3.7.




The Monitoring Officer introduced the report (Agenda item 8).


Cllr Rowles responded to the information within the report by stating that as a members there was an entitlement to the information under section 13.3.6 of the constitution. It was suggested that officers were questioning the integrity of Cllr Rowles by denying access to the confidential information. Cllr Rowles further suggested that the Monitoring Officer’s decision should be legitimately challenged and that bringing the matter to Governance and Ethics committee was the constitutional mechanism available to do so.


It was accepted that members did not have an unqualified right to information, however Cllr Rowles drew attention to section 13.3.6 of the constitution which stated that ‘Where Officers consider that information is of a confidential nature which should not be openly available to the public or press, this information will be supplied by Officers to Members on a private and confidential basis. Any information provided to Members on this basis will be treated as such and will not be circulated outside the Council’.


Cllr Rowles suggested that denying her access to such information questioned her integrity as a councillor.


Cllr Rowles referred to section 5.19 of the report which referred to her assertion of a ‘need to know’. Cllr Rowles commented that access to the details of the report would allow her to see how the case had concluded, and to consequently understand the position of the resident that she represented in relation to the council. It was suggested that the case in Kintbury had almost identical facts to the Lambourn matter in that; both individuals requested CIL exemption; both cases related to missing paperwork; the Council had failed to provide help or guidance to either; agents were involved in both cases and in neither case had a review felt to be appropriate. As such, Cllr Rowles argued that the approach to enforcement in the Lambourn case would have a direct relevance to that in Kintbury.


Cllr Rowles commented that the sheer volume of 53 emails included in the Monitoring Officer’s supporting evidence as a ‘sample’ was astounding.   


It was argued that the risk of the issue setting a precedent and then opening up information in relation to social care issues was a nonsense as there was no comparison between planning and social care cases.


Cllr Rowles quoted section 2.3.4 of the constitution which stated that councillors should ‘represent their communities and bring their views into the Council’s decision-making processes, thereby acting as the advocate of and for their communities’. It was suggested that Cllr Rowles was trying to fulfil her role as a councillor by challenging and holding the council to account on behalf of her ward resident.


Cllr Rowles finished by commenting that to close down her request was to close down the very fundamentals of democracy and the role that she had been elected to undertake. 


Visiting member Cllr J Cole commented that as a co-ward member he had a direct interest in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.


Exclusion of Press and Public

RECOMMENDATION: That members of the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items as it is likely that there would be disclosure of exempt information of the description contained in the paragraphs of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 specified in brackets in the heading of each item.


RESOLVED that members of the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the under-mentioned item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as contained in Paragraphs(s) * of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information)(Variation) Order 2006. Rule 8.10.4 of the Constitution also refers.


Member request for information

Part II Appendices

Additional documents:


RESOLVED:the Committee reject the officer recommendation and approve referral of the case to full Council. 





Strategic Risk Register Update Q2 2021/22

To provide an update on the Strategic Risk Register as at Q2 of 2021/22 and to highlight the corporate risks that need to be considered by Corporate Board and Operations Board and to outline the actions that are being taken to mitigate those risks.

Additional documents:


The Performance Research Consultation Manager introduced the exempt report (Agenda item 11).


RESOLVED: the Committee note the exempt report.