Agenda and minutes

Governance Committee
Wednesday 28th July 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Civic Suite, Solihull

Contact: Deborah Merry  Head of Legal and Democratic Services 0121 704 6022

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

2.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and conflicts of interest from Members.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Questions and Deputations

To answer questions, if any, asked by any resident of the Borough pursuant to Standing Orders.

Minutes:

There were no questions or deputations.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 191 KB

To approve the minutes of the last meeting as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 23 June 2021 be approved as a correct record.

5.

Draft Statement of Accounts 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 159 KB

To ask Members to review the Council’s draft Statement of Accounts for 2020/21 (see Appendix A).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members of the Committee were reminded that the Committee’s role was to review the draft 2020/21 Accounting Statement, taking into account any comments made by the Audit Committee and to suggest any amendments to the draft Statement before it was signed off by the Chairman of the Governance Committee.

 

The Finance Manager advised that the Audit Committee had considered the draft Accounting Statement in detail on 26th July 2021.  He highlighted the questions that had been asked by members of the Audit Committee and advised that the Audit Committee had not suggested any amendments or raised any significant issues when referring it to the Governance Committee. 

 

The Committee discussed the wording of the section on Delivering a Sustainable Low-carbon Future, on page 29 of the report pack, and agreed the wording should be amended.

 

Members of the Governance Committee noted that there would be an opportunity to review the final Accounting Statement in September 2021 following scrutiny by the Council's external auditor.

 

The Committee noted that due to the Covid19 pandemic the timescale for completion of the draft accounts had been extended, and expressed appreciation that despite the challenges the Finance Team had completed this work ahead of the revised deadline.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That subject to the final sentence of the final paragraph on page 29 (Delivering a Sustainable Low-carbon Future) being amended to read “The Covid-19 pandemic has also demonstrated that things can be done differently.”, the draft Statement of Accounts 2020/21 be approved.

6.

Annual Governance Statement 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 166 KB

The purpose of this report is to seek Governance Committee approval for the Council’s Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for 2020/21.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Audit Manager reported that the publication of an Annual Governance Statement (AGS) was a statutory requirement. The AGS was a public statement that described and evaluated the Council’s overall governance arrangements, together with a self-assessment of the effectiveness of the governance arrangements across all areas of activity.

 

The Audit Manager confirmed that the Statement had been produced in accordance with relevant professional guidance and good practice published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

 

The Audit Manager advised that the Monitoring Officer and the Section 151 Officer had each provided individual assurances that the draft AGS accurately described their understanding of the Council’s governance arrangements.

 

The Audit Manager and the Head of Financial Operations responded to Members’ questions about the content of the AGS.  They were unable to provide a response to a question relating to the AGS and equality and diversity, but confirmed that a response would be provided to Members after the meeting.

 

The Audit Manager confirmed that on 26th July 2021, the Audit Committee had considered the draft Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for 2020/21 and had endorsed the content.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the draft Annual Governance Statement for 2020/21, attached as Appendix A to the report be approved.

 

7.

Review of Honorary Alderman Scheme pdf icon PDF 385 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Legal and Democratic Services reminded members that the Committee had agreed to review the Council’s Honorary Alderman Scheme of Enrolment.

 

Members of the Committee discussed the qualifying criteria in the current scheme and were keen to ensure the scheme continued to require that former members had rendered eminent or notable service to the Borough of Solihull as well as a minimum length of service as a Councillor.  However, it was agreed that the current requirement of 15 years’ service was excessive and could prevent worthy nominations from being considered, and that the qualifying period should be reduced to 12 years.

 

RECOMMENDED:

 

That the eligibility criteria in the Council’s Honorary Alderman Scheme of Enrolment be amended to read as follows:

 

A person shall be deemed to be eligible for consideration to be nominated to the position of Honorary Alderman if he or she: -

 

  i.  Has rendered 12 years’ service as a Member of the Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council which is calculated on a cumulative basis (in exceptional circumstances less than 12 years may be considered at the discretion of the Governance Committee);

 

  ii.  has rendered eminent or notable service to the Borough of Solihull; and

 

  iii.  they must have been a serving Member within the previous 10 years of the start of the scheme.

 

N.B. In the case of qualification (i) previous service before 1st April 1974 with a constituent authority will be taken into account.

8.

Appointment of Independent Members of the Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 147 KB

To confirm the arrangements for the appointment of two independent members of the Audit Committee.

Minutes:

The Committee was asked to confirm the arrangements for the appointment of two independent members of the Audit Committee.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(i)  That an advertisement be placed seeking expressions of interest from persons who may be suitable for appointment as an independent member of the Audit Committee; and

 

(ii)  That the three Councillors currently serving on the Audit Committee (Councillors Allsopp, McLoughlin and Sandison) be appointed to shortlist and interview applicants with the Head of Internal Audit and to make a recommendation to Council for the appointment of independent members of the Audit Committee.