Agenda and minutes

Venue: COUNCIL CHAMBER

Items
No. Item

124.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

No apologies for absence received as all members were present.

125.

Declarations of Interest

Members are reminded of their personal responsibility to declare any personal and prejudicial interest in respect of matters contained in this agenda in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government and Finance Act 1992 relating to Council Tax, the Local Government Act 2000, the Council’s Constitution and the Members Code of Conduct

 

Note:

 

(a)  Members are reminded that they must identify the item number and subject matter that their interest relates to and signify the nature of the personal interest and

 

(b)  Where Members withdraw from a Meeting as a consequence of the disclosure of a prejudicial interest they must notify the Chair when they leave

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

126.

Wales Audit Office Report 'Delivering with Less - Environmental Health Services - Follow Up Review - Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council' pdf icon PDF 444 KB

To consider report of the Chief Officer Community Regeneration

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Gareth Lewis came into the meeting at 2.10 pm. 

 

The Chair welcomed Alyn Owen and Sue Gow to the meeting.

 

Sue Gow referred to the report on the Environmental Health Services and updated members on the contents of the Wales Audit Office report which looks at the impact of cuts in resources and the ability of the Environmental Health Service to deliver its statutory functions.  

 

She advised Members that the overall findings of the Wales Audit Office are that Environmental Health resources have reduced and the Council cannot demonstrate that it is delivering all its statutory Environmental Health Services.  The two proposals for improvement from the Wales Audit Office are that the Council needs to assure itself that it can deliver its statutory Environmental Health Services and the Council needs to put a better mechanism in place to review the deliver of its Environmental Health Services. 

 

The following questions were then raised by the Committee and were responded to by Alyn Owen and Sue Gow:

 

·         Are there any major outbreaks that could have been preventable?

 

·         How does Merthyr Tydfil compare with other Authorities?

 

·         Is there any collaboration with other Authorities?

 

·         Clarification on the current staffing situation and the responsibilities of individual staff. 

 

·         Clarification that the functions of the Environmental Services Department are statutory and covered by legislation.

 

·         The criteria used in relation to the agreement of the release of  personnel within the department. 

 

·      The use of generic e-mail addresses for all services within the Local Authority.

 

·      Progress update on the proposals for improvement identified by the Wales Audit Office. 

 

·      Decreases in the budgets for services within the Environmental Health Department. 

 

·      Reviewing and updating the Practice Standards and should areas at risk be reported in future reports.

 

·      Updating the Risk Register.  

 

·      Clarification on whether other Authorities have difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified staff. 

 

RESOLVED that:

 

·         The Audit Committee members note the contents of the report.

 

·         Additional recommendations were put forward and accepted by the Committee, namely: 

 

-       A breakdown of the current staffing structure of the Environmental Health Department be sent to Councillors for their information.

 

-       Report be scheduled to September’s meeting to update members on the proposals for improvement identified by the Wales Audit Office. 

127.

Provisional Statement of Accounts 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 281 KB

To consider report of the Deputy Chief Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Jeremy Davies left the meeting at 2.25 pm.

 

The Chair welcomed Steve Jones and Adele Lewis to the meeting. 

 

Steve Jones referred the Committee to the Statement of Accounts report which details legislation governing the process for compilation of the Statement of Accounts for the 2018/19 financial year and a brief summary of revenue, capital and financial position as at the 31st March 2019. 

 

He advised that the Accounts had to be compiled by the 15th June and wanted to thank Adele Lewis and her team as they actually compiled the accounts by the 30th May, which is 2 weeks earlier than the required deadline. 

 

The following questions were then raised by the Committee and were responded to by Steve Jones and Adele Lewis:

 

·         Clarification on the detail in paragraph 7.2.1.  -  “although not all the planned capital funding was utilised, where appropriate no funding is lost as the monies are carried over into the 2019/20 financial year”. 

 

·         In relation to the loan provided to Merthyr Valleys Homes, what are the terms of the loan?

 

RESOLVED that:

 

Members note the Provisional Statement of Accounts for 2018/19.

128.

Audit Enquiries to those Charged with Governance and Management pdf icon PDF 334 KB

To consider report of the Deputy Chief Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Steve Jones referred to the report on the Audit Enquiries to those charged with Governance and Management.

 

He advised members that the Wales Audit Office audit the Council’s financial accounts for 2018/19 in compliance with International Standards of Auditing and that in response to the WAO’s request the Council has indicated its views on a number of governance areas impacting upon the audit of accounts, relevant to both management and ‘those charged with governance’. 

 

The Committee wished to thank the staff for the work that has been done in bringing this work together.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

Members note the Council’s response to the Welsh Audit Office’s request for information in respect of management and governance set out in Appendices 1 to 3.

129.

Draft Annual Governance Statement for Financial Year 2018/2019 pdf icon PDF 185 KB

To consider report of the Deputy Chief Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Gary Evans referred the Committee in detail to the Draft Annual Governance Statement for the financial year 2018/19.

 

He advised that there was an error on the report at paragraph 3.1.   It should read the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2014 and not 2015 as stated in the report. 

 

RESOLVED that:

 

Members receive the draft Annual Governance Statement for 2018/19.

 

130.

Annual Internal Audit Report for Financial Year 2018/2019 pdf icon PDF 179 KB

To consider report of the Head of Regional Internal Audit Service

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Gary Evans took members through the Annual Internal Audit report and advised that based upon the work undertaken during the year, Internal Audit has given a satisfactory opinion on the internal control environment, risk management and governance arrangements.   However, there are concerns that the work over recent years has highlighted a potential trend of deterioration in the internal control environment. 

 

The following questions were then raised by the Committee and were responded to by Gary Evans and Mark Thomas: 

 

·         What support will be offered by Welsh Government and how will this be communicated?   When will the Members be updated on progress?

 

·         Clarification on the Audit Opinions for 2017/18 and 2018/19.

 

·         Reduction in resources within the Internal Audit Section.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

·         The contents of the Annual Internal Audit Report, in particular the overall satisfactory opinion on the standard of the internal control environment, risk management arrangements and governance arrangements be endorsed by Members.

 

·         Members note the efforts of all staff involved in maintaining this standard for 2018/19.

131.

Information Reports

To receive summary copies of published Internal Audit reports for Members information:

 

·         MFS Main Accounting System: Follow up review on previous recommendations implementation.

·         MFS Treasury Management System: Follow up review on previous recommendations implementation.

·         MFS Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction System: Follow up review on previous recommendations implementation.

·         MFS Bank Reconciliation System: Follow up review on previous recommendations implementation.

·         Disabled Facilities Grants.

·         Freedom of Information Act.

·         Purchasing Cards System.

·         Taxi Licensing.

·         Ysgol Y Graig Primary School.

·         Ffos Y Fran - Contract and royalty payment.

Minutes:

The Chair referred the Committee to the Information reports in relation to:

 

 

·      MFS Main Accounting System: Follow up review on previous recommendations implementation.

·      MFS Treasury Management System: Follow up review on previous recommendations implementation.

·      MFS Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction System: Follow up review on previous recommendations implementation.

·      MFS Bank Reconciliation System: Follow up review on previous recommendations implementation.

·      Disabled Facilities Grants.

·      Freedom of Information Act.

·      Purchasing Cards System.

·      Taxi Licensing.

·      Ysgol Y Graig Primary School.

·      Ffos Y Fran - Contract and royalty payment.

 

132.

Reflection and Evaluation of Meeting

To receive an update from the Chair

Minutes:

The Chair and the Committee reflected in detail on the issues that had been considered at the meeting.

 

In relation to previous discussions in the meeting, the following recommendation was put forward and accepted by the Committee:

 

·         Following VR/VER Programme and the reduction in Local Authority staffing levels, it would be useful and beneficial for elected Members to receive a staff/organisational structure which also outlines the preferred contact for each Directorate/Department to allow elected Members to discharge their duties more efficiently in relation to their casework. 

 

133.

Any other business deemed urgent by the Chair

Minutes:

The Chair gave an update to Members with regard to a meeting that himself and Councillor Darren Roberts had with Helen Goddard and Sara-Jane Byrne from the Wales Audit Office. 

 

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