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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 4, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD

Contact: Jackie Tunstall  020 7527 3068

Items
No. Item

120.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

121.

Declaration of substitute members

Minutes:

There were no declarations of substitute members.

122.

Declarations of interest

If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a)     Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

(b) Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d) Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e) Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.

(f) Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Olly Parker declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item B5 – Internal Audit Report as a member of The Factory Children’s Centre.

123.

Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 20 September 2016 be confirmed as an accurate record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

124.

Council Tax Base and National Non-Domestic Rates pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

During consideration of the report the following points were made:-

·        It was noted that there was a surplus in the NNDR account due to growth in the business rate base compared to the estimate.

·        The collection rate in business rates had been maintained due to the increase in rate.  There was a concern that the collection rate for small business may be a risk but the collection statistics would be monitored.

·        It was noted that the local authority retained a 30% proportion of their business rates and the rest was redistributed through the GLA and the government.

·        Where there was an increase in the number of businesses, the authority would be able to retain the business rate.

·        Where there were empty businesses the authority would be responsible for 30% of the rate.

·        There needed to be better monitoring and prediction on business rate growth.

 

RESOLVED

1)     That the Council Tax base for the whole area for 2017-18 (or until rescinded) shall be 77,209.5 Band D equivalent properties after adjusting for non-collection be agreed.

2)     That the Council Tax base for meeting the special expenses issued by the Lloyd Square Garden Committee for 2017-18 (or until rescinded) shall be 44.8 Band D equivalent properties after adjusting for non-collection be agreed.

3)     That the Council Tax forecast for 2016-17 be noted. 

4)     That the business rates estimate for 2017-18 and delegate authority to the Corporate Director of Finance and Resources for finalising the NNDR1 Form (detailed business rates estimate) in line with this estimate be agreed.

5)     That the NNDR forecast for 2016-17 be noted. 

125.

Annual Treasury and Investment Strategy pdf icon PDF 373 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following points were made during the discussion:-

·        It was noted that there was daily monitoring of the interest rates and officers would move rapidly if there was an increase in rates.

·        The council was not currently fixing into long term fixed rate loans.

·        Officers considered that they had not yet reached the stage where they needed to change to long term fixed rates but the situation was being constantly monitored.

·        Temporary borrowing rate was forecast at about 1%.

·        New borrowing was set to decrease in 2019/20 as the capital programme would be financed from various other internal sources.

 

RESOLVED

That the report be noted. 

126.

External Auditor Reports pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council’s external auditor presented the annual Audit letter and report on grant claims and returns.

 

The following points were made during the discussion:-

·        This was the first year that there had been no amendments on the certification work on the Housing Subsidy claim;

·        There was an unqualified assurance on the Teachers’ Pension return.

·        There was an elector query relating to 2013/14.  The elector was not willing to close this query.

 

RESOLVED

1)     That the annual Audit Letter 2015/16 and the Annual report on grant claims and returns 2015/16 from KPMG be noted.

127.

Public Sector Audit Appointments pdf icon PDF 128 KB

Minutes:

The following points were made during the discussion:-

·        It was considered that it would be better to opt into the national collective scheme at this stage although it would be prudent to review the process over the four years from April 2018.

·        It was expected that the new scheme would be more customer focussed.

·        That the Annual fee be considered at the Audit Committee.

 

RESOLVED that the preferred option of the Council’s acceptance of Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) invitation to ‘opt in’ to the sector led option for the appointment of external auditors for financial years commencing 1 April 2018.

128.

Ombudsman's Annual Letter pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

129.

Use of Agency Staff: Update pdf icon PDF 546 KB

Minutes:

The following points were made during the discussion:-

 

·        It was noted that it was difficult to fill some posts on a permanent basis due to market forces and it was not always easy to fund the skills required. 

·        The number of agency staff had reduced which was welcomed and it was considered that the number could be reduced further although it would be difficult.

·        Market supplements may be a better way forward where skills were required but a full analysis would need to be carried out.  The analysis should also consider the number of agency staff that covered long term sickness and a comparison with other boroughs.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

130.

Internal Audit Interim Report 2016-2017 pdf icon PDF 196 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following points were made during the discussion:-

 

Regarding the Planning/Building Control limited assurance:-

·        It was noted that the problems associated with the limited assurance rating given for the planning/building control systems were related to the M3 system.

·        The planning and building control section were moving towards innovative technology for back-office software, using procurement procedures through the GCLoud and other Central Government frameworks.  These allowed for procurement and configuration in months, rather than years.

·        It was reported that the performance was now generally good, new software had been procured and the enforcement system was now functioning.

·        The planning process would be reviewed over the next few months.

·        The planning appeal statistics had improved

·        The building control payments were taken at the beginning of the process rather than the end.

·        Camden Council used the same system which was stable and discussions were being held with Camden although the system at Islington was differently configured.

·        Members were concerned that a new system would not be a better one and that other alternatives e.g system sharing should be considered.

 

Regarding the Vehicle Maintenance and Fleet Management - management letter:-

·        It was noted that a management letter had been issued which raised a number of health and safety issues. 

·        The priority was to ensure that the legal obligations were met.

·        The service was currently recruiting a new transport manager and a new Head of Service had already been recruited. 

·        Independent audits were being carried out monthly and a review was due next month where improvements were expected as the key elements were in place.

·        Shared services with Camden had been considered but it was decided that this would not be appropriate due to the space required. 

·        The current depot in Islington contained 400 bespoke vehicles and there was enough work to keep staff employed. 

 

Other service summaries

·        It was noted that the review of voluntary organisations and resident impact statements had been postponed and the review of responsive repairs had been cancelled due to staff shortages.  These would be carried out in April 2017.

·        DBS procedures had been tightened in relation to service procedures.

 

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

131.

Principal Risk Update pdf icon PDF 365 KB

Minutes:

The following points were made during the discussion:-

 

·        The greatest risk was regarding cyber security and there were increasing risks for adult safeguarding due to increasing financial pressures.

·        There were concerns that the report did not indicate the severity of each risk for the Committee and that the controls in place and action taken to mitigate the risk were not detailed. 

·        The report author undertook to consider how best to present the information to Committee.

·        The business rate risk was not included in the report as it was not a major risk.

 

 

 

RESOLVED that the action taken on the principal risks be noted.

132.

Anti-Fraud Strategy pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

133.

Fraud Report: April 2016- December 2016 pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

134.

Whistleblowing Report: April 2016 to November 2016. pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

135.

Fraud Report: Appendix

Minutes:

The committee noted that processes for procurement detailed in paragraph 1.4 were now more robust.

 

RESOLVED that the exempt appendix be noted.

136.

Whistleblowing Report: Appendix

Minutes:

The Committee considered that Table 2.1 in the report should be more informative.

 

RESOLVED that the exempt appendix be noted.