Agenda and minutes

Venue: Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

68.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To confirm the minutes of the special meeting held on 29 September 2009.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 29 September 2009 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

69.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Mr. R. Childerhouse.

 

70.

Urgent Business

To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business, pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

None.

 

71.

Declaration of Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.  The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a personal or prejudicial interest.

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

 

72.

Non-members wishing to address the meeting

To note the names of any non-members wishing to address the meeting.

Minutes:

  • Mr. M. Kiddle-Morris - Executive Member (Commercial & Economic).

 

73.

REV (Rural Enterprise Valley) Programme Budget Review (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.

 

This report is as requested by the Cabinet following its consideration of proposed match funding for the REVActive Project at its meeting on 27 October, when it was recommended to Council as follows:

 

1)     the investment of up to £228,000 in the REVActive project over four years starting in the financial year 2009-10 as set out in the project budget spreadsheet within the report be approved, subject to:

 

a)      a satisfactory review of the REV programme budget being carried out by the Audit Committee at its meeting on 13 November 2009; and

b)      external funding being secured;

 

2)     an annual report be received on the performance of the project and a final evaluation report be received at the end of the project.

 

The recommendation from Cabinet will be considered by the Council at its meeting on 12 November 2009 but its decision will be subject to this Committee’s review of the REV Programme Budget, as requested by Cabinet.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Economic Development Manager presented the report, which was made in response to a request by Cabinet for the Committee to review the REV Programme Budget on behalf of the Council and make any comments or recommendations to Council on the current and future use and management of the budget.

 

The Economic Development Manager gave a presentation outlining the background to the REV Programme, achievements to date, and setting out the details of the RevActive Project, which was a proposed scheme being initiated under the REV Programme.

 

The REV Programme was an economic development umbrella programme focused on the A11 corridor from Thetford to Norwich, the vision for which was to “establish an exemplar area for local people to live, work and play, whilst contributing significantly to the regional economy, with the lowest possible environmental impact”.  The REV Programme was not a project in itself but was an enabling programme for other projects.  It was a long-term programme over 10-15 years.

 

Over the period 2006-208, the first phase of the REV initiative (Rev 1) had achieved £1.2m inward investment and supported over 400 businesses, leading to creation of an additional 40 jobs.

 

The REV Programme was aimed at addressing issues and barriers important to sustaining and enabling growth of the economy of the area, as follows:

 

  • Strategic site development
  • Overcoming utility and infrastructure challenges
  • Attracting inward investment / funding
  • Supporting and growing local businesses
  • Supporting the creation of quality local job opportunities
  • Leading on the low carbon agenda

 

Intrinsic to this was the promotion of these issues both regionally and nationally.   The Programme was also relevant having regard to the award of Growth Point status to Thetford and the regional planning targets for housing and employment growth.

 

To date, the current REV Programme (Rev 2) had successfully:

 

§         Prompted recognition of the A11 corridor as an area of significant growth and importance

§         Enabled potential of £100m of inward investment

§         Raised local energy supply issues national and regionally through the Snetterton Utilities project and the Snetterton Prospectus

§         Developed the RevActive Project which is set to attract £3m in funding for Breckland businesses

 

In addition, the Programme supported the Moving Thetford Forward programme and had enabled the creation of a three-year Economic Development Trainee post to support the Programme and projects.

 

For the future, the Programme would continue to support ongoing delivery of projects in the following areas:

 

  • To attract Government funding through the Integrated Development Plan (local investment plan)
  • Master planning for Snetterton / Attleborough
  • Snetterton Utilities Project (energy supply)
  • To attract further and convert current inward investment opportunities
  • Providing specialised consultancy support as and when needed

 

As mentioned above, the RevActive Project was a major scheme under the umbrella of the REV Programme.

 

This project was aimed at creating a resource efficiency network for businesses to assist business growth and sustainability.  It was a proactive project covering the Thetford area and in a one mile radius of the A11 from Thetford to Norwich, with further sample  ...  view the full minutes text for item 73.

74.

Draft Estimates 2010-11 - Consultation (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 667 KB

A copy of the draft Estimates for 2010-11 are enclosed for consultation purposes.   The draft Estimates are as previously submitted to the meeting of the Cabinet on 27 October 2009.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director (Governance and Finance) presented the draft estimates for 2010-11 to the Committee as a key consultee and sought members’ views on the main assumptions and risks as set out.

 

The following points and comments were noted:

 

Section 2: Assumptions

The reduction in the bank base rate had affected investment returns over the past 12 months.  In addition, further technical advice was awaited on whether the interest received on the impaired Icelandic investments could be credited to the revenue account or not.

 

A member asked whether the general inflation assumption of 0% over the five year financial plan was applied to any other specific items in the budget.  It was replied that there was some flexibility in this but the general inflation figure was being applied across the board as a general efficiency target and a cap had been put on contribution rates.

 

Section 3: 2009-10 Outturn

The Director was confident that the 2009-10 outturn would be in line with the original budget forecast.

 

Section 4: Grant Settlement

It was noted that there was, as yet, no formal indication as to what the Government was intending to do with the grant settlement but it was felt authorities could be looking at as much as a 30% cut in Government funding over 10 years.  A review of the funding model was due at the end of the current three year term (2013-14), although some discussion in advance of this could be anticipated at the time of the 2011-12 settlement.

 

Options for making up any shortfall through local taxes were limited, as there was a 5% cap on increases in Council Tax.  The Chairman made the point that while a number of services were statutory duties upon local authorities, there were also some that were discretionary.

 

Section 5: Collection Fund

The deficit forecast reflected the fact that not everyone was paying their Council Tax and therefore the Band D calculation had been adjusted for future years to recover the position and enable the Council to return to a zero balance target.

 

Section 6: Tax Base

Figures were reviewed annually.

 

Section 7: 2009-10 Estimates

There was a challenge to meet the contingency (efficiency savings) target in Table 6 (line 15) by the time the Estimates were submitted to Cabinet in January.

 

Section 8: Policy Changes

In relation to effects of economic activity on the Council’s commercial property and other income, a member commented that the impact of the recession on employment had not yet bottomed-out and it was agreed that the position needed to be closely monitored.  However, it was accepted that the position on commercial property had held up well to date.

 

With regard to the indicative budget sum to support the development of rural transport schemes referred to in paragraph 8.11, it was noted that this would need to be reduced to take account of a lower level of Department of Transport funding for next year. 

 

Section 9: Fees and Charges (excluding rents)

The main changes outlined in paragraph 9.3  ...  view the full minutes text for item 74.

75.

Outcomes of Audit Committee Self-Assessment Exercise (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Report of the Head of Internal Audit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report presented the outcomes from the self-assessment review carried out by the Committee at its September meeting.  The review compared the Committee’s compliance with the standards and guidance on best practice set out in the CIPFA publication “A Toolkit for Local Authority Audit Committees”.

 

The findings of the review recognised that there is considerable compliance with best practice guidance as advocated by CIPFA, although there was still scope to further align the operation of the Committee to published standards.

 

The main areas for further development included:

 

  • Training
  • Periodic private discussion meetings with Internal and External Audit Managers
  • Greater interaction with External Audit on their audit plans and strategy, including assessing performance and approving audit fees
  • Introduction of a committee work plan

 

Actions in all these areas were being progressed.

 

RESOLVED that

 

(1)         the report be noted and the outcomes of the self-assessment exercise be confirmed; and

(2)         the proposed actions to augment existing arrangements be agreed.

76.

Progress Report on Internal Audit Activity 2009/10 - Covering the period up to 15 October 2009 (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Report of the Head of Internal Audit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report informed the Committee on current progress of the Annual Audit Plan for 2009-10.  Members were pleased to note a much more positive position than for the same time last year.

 

To date, eight audits had been completed and a further two draft reports had been issued.  The Head of Internal Audit advised that she anticipated that the Audit Plan would be substantially completed by 31 March 2010.

 

The position was noted.

 

RESOLVED that the report is received and noted.

 

77.

Follow-up of Agreed Audit Recommendations Arising from Final Audit Reports (Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Head of Internal Audit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Audit Manager presented the report, from which it was noted that this was the first report to Committee following the introduction of the new arrangements for monitoring the status of audit recommendations, which now involved greater interaction between management and the Internal Audit Services contractor to confirm the extent to which agreed actions have been implemented.   The report explained how the new working practices were operating, how successful they have been and the level of implementation achieved at the end of Quarter 2 of the current financial year.

 

With regard to Systems Audits, 80% of the recommendations due to be implemented by the end of September 2009 had been completed, with 16 recommendations remaining outstanding.

 

In the case of Computer Audits, only 50% of the recommendations due to be implemented by the end of September 2009 had been resolved, with 28 recommendations remaining outstanding.

 

Although there had been improvement in the overall situation, the Committee remained concerned at the number of outstanding computer audit recommendations.

 

RESOLVED that

 

(1)         the Committee notes progress made in implementing internal audit recommendations and notes that the new provisions for overseeing implementation of agreed actions were working well;

(2)         the Head of IT be asked to report to the Committee’s next meeting on progress of the outstanding computer audit recommendations.

 

78.

Quarter 2 Governance Report - Risks (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Report of the Director (Governance & Corporate Development).

Minutes:

Details of the changes to the risk register were noted.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

 

79.

Partnership Review Action Plans - Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnership (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 80 KB

Report of the Director (Community Services).  This report covers the proposed changes to the governance arrangements for the Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP), which were approved by the Joint Responsible Authorities Partnership on 13 October 2009, and is attached for the information.  

Minutes:

It was noted that the previous joint governance arrangements between the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk CDRP and Breckland CDRP had been dissolved and stand-alone CDRP had been re-established in the two areas.

 

 

80.

Member Training on Treasury Management (Agenda Item 18)

To agree a date for the Treasury Management training. 

Minutes:

Preferred dates for the proposed Treasury Management training session were agreed as follows:

 

Preferred dates (in priority order)

  1. 15 January 2010
  2. 26 March 2010
  3. 12 March 2010

 

Alternative dates:

  • 29 January
  • 26 February

 

81.

Work Programme (Agenda Item 14) pdf icon PDF 9 KB

A draft work programme is attached for the Committee’s consideration.  The Committee is asked to agree any additions, deletions or amendments to the programme as appropriate.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that

 

(1)         the draft work programme be approved;

(2)         the following items be added to the schedule for the next meeting on 15 January 2010:

 

§         Progress report on outstanding computer systems audits (Head of IT)

§         International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) – Update report (Director of Governance & Finance)

 

82.

Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Friday, 15 January 2010 at 10.00 a.m. in the Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham.

Minutes:

Arrangements for the next meeting on 15 January 2010 were noted.