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Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item



Additional documents:


There were apologies provided from Senior Democratic Services Officer, Ben Patel-Sadler due to unforeseen circumstances preventing attendance.


Councillor Harris, Councillor Theodoulou, and Councillor Robins also gave apologies to the Chair as they would have to leave the meeting early.


Substitute Members

To note details of any substitution arrangements in place for the meeting.

Additional documents:


There were no substitute Members.


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest from Members and Officers, relating to items to be considered at the meeting.

Additional documents:


There were no declarations of interest from Members or Officers present.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 213 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 21st October 2021.

Additional documents:


The Chair read out the changes to the minutes circulated to officers in advance of the meetings


Democratic Services undertook to change the minutes in accordance with the document circulated to the Committee and to Officers


RESOLVED: that subject to the amendments being made, the minutes are a true and accurate reflection of the previous meeting on the 21st October 2021.


Voting Record


7 for, 0 against, 0 abstention


Public Questions

To deal with questions from the public within the open forum question and answer

session of fifteen minutes in total. Questions or supplementary questions from

each member of the public should be no longer than two minutes each and relate

issues under the Committee’s remit.

Additional documents:


There were no public questions


Member Questions

To deal with written questions by Members, relating to issues under the

Committee’s remit, with the maximum length of oral supplementary questions at

Committee being no longer than one minute. Responses to any supplementary

questions will be dealt with in writing following the meeting.

Additional documents:


There were no Member questions.


Statement of Accounts 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 93 KB


This report presents the Council’s audited Statement of Accounts for the period 1st April 2020 to 31 March 2021 to enable the Committee to consider and approve the Council’s accounts.



a)    That the Grant Thornton Audit Findings for Cotswold District Council be noted.

b)    The Statement of Accounts 2020/21 be approved.

c)    To note the officer responses to Audit Committee Comments. 

d)    To note the update to the Annual Governance Statement.

e) That the Chief Finance Officer and the Chairman of the Audit Committee be authorised to write a letter of representation on behalf of the Committee and Council to Grant Thornton to enable the opinion to be issued.

Additional documents:


The Deputy Chief Executive started by expressing thanks to Officers and Grant Thornton for their work.


Chief Accountant opened the item for the Statement of Accounts which included an updated version of the Accounts which had been first presented to the Audit Committee in July. The Chief Accountant stated that there had been some minor corrections and changes of a disclosure and narrative nature only as outlined in the document pack from the external auditors.


The Chief Accountant outlined Annex A which included suggestions for amendments to the Statement of Accounts from Grant Thornton, Annex C which included comments and queries from Members with responses from Officers in respect of the draft Statement of Accounts and Annex D which outlined the Annual Governance Statement, tracking changes between the current and prior year Statement


The Committee thanked report authors for highlighting changes made which had made analysing the document easier for Members. There was a query from the Committee regarding the order of questioning on the documents presented.


The Chair outlined how the report from Grant Thornton (Annex A) would have questions to the External Auditor, and then the other documents presented would have questions to Chief Accountant and Deputy Chief Executive.


The Committee asked about the figures and how they are presented with the document. An example was raised regarding the revised budget being £1.68 million less than the original budget, and wishing to note what the outcome of these lower figures means.


The Deputy Chief Executive recognised the point made, but highlighted that the document was circulated in July for Members of the Committee to review, raise questions and make suggested changes to the Statement of Account.  It was further reported that any changes would need to go back to Grant Thornton for review before the Accounts would be approved and the external audit opinion issued.  A commitment was made to take any other questions outside of the meeting for individual queries.


The External Auditor opened by reiterating the points from the Progress Report made from the previous meeting. The auditor spoke regarding the Audit Findings report in Annex A, and how progress had been made.


It was highlighted by the External Auditor that whilst work was on track before this meeting, staff absences meant that the closing procedures have not been concluded. Following discussions with Officers at the Council, the sign off for these procedures are now due to be completed in early December, however this could be January if the staff absence remains an issue.


The Committee asked whether the documents in Annex A were draft findings or the final version of the Audit Findings Report.


The Chair outlined that this was the final wording other than some outstanding issues.


The External Auditor outlined parts of Annex A which require resolution, for example financial instruments. The outstanding items are relatively immaterial to the Accounts and should be completed once the staff absence is resolved.


The Chair referred to Annex A and Appendix E regarding responsibilities for governance  ...  view the full minutes text for item 109.


Corporate Risk Register Update and Updated Risk and Opportunity Management Strategy pdf icon PDF 102 KB


To update the Committee on the changes to the Council’s corporate risk register at the end of 2021/22 Q2 and put before members a revised Risk and Opportunity Management Strategy for approval.



a)    To note the updates to the Council’s corporate risk register; and

b)    Approve the Risk and Opportunity Management Strategy at Annex C.

Additional documents:


The Chair handed over to Strategic Support Officer for Land, Legal and Property at Publica to present the item. It was outlined that this item would come back to future committees as a regular item.


It was outlined that the Corporate Risk Register highlights problems that would impact the Council as a whole.


The Committee asked about the reduction of the risk of flooding due to the introduction of Flood Wardens, and what the assurance could be provided for the reduction of this risk.


The Deputy Chief Executive updated committee on flood forum that was held on 22nd November and noted that a progress update would be given to the Committee by email.


The Committee questioned the use of flood wardens and how this can offset the risk of events occurring. The Chair clarified this was about the impact of flooding and ensuring a quick response to events are given.


The Committee outlined how some of the risks were very similar, but presented as separate points. The Deputy Chief Executive acknowledged the similarities and agreed to examine a way to combine some of these risks if appropriate.


The Committee raised a question over the Recovery Investment Strategy but following consultation with the Deputy Chief Executive, this was deemed to be the remit of  the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


The Committee raised the issue of the shortage of planning officers which could potentially impact the Council given the public interest in these matters.


The Deputy Chief Executive explained that a number of risk registers existed and as the risk score increased, they would be incorporated on to the Corporate Risk Register.


The Committee asked about risk and the relationship with Publica in terms of how risks are managed.


Deputy Chief Executive indicated that whilst there are some risks that are shared between the Council and Publica, most risks are managed internally by Publica and risk are raised with the Local Management Team on an exception basis.


The Committee raised the issue of cyber security in light of Member briefings given, and asked if the briefings could be repeated.


The Deputy Chief Executive undertook to ensure a second date was set for all Members.


The Committee raised the issue of the title of the title of the document being a ‘Risk and Opportunity Register’, and what opportunities were going to be examined.


The Deputy Chief Executive informed the Committee that the documents provided  included a revised Risk and Opportunity Register, and suggested that the Committee examine this.


The Strategic Support Officer then went through the new Risk and Opportunity management strategy. This also included the new Publica Risk and Opportunity Management Guide. Apologies were given for this arriving on the day of the Committee.


It was explained how the document provides for the review and management of the risks on the register. Any opportunities identified would be brought to the next meeting.


The Strategic Support Officer explained a section on fraud, bribery and corruption would be included in the final  ...  view the full minutes text for item 110.


Annual Governance Statement - Action Plan pdf icon PDF 97 KB


This report presents an update on the Governance Action Plan for 2021/22.



To note progress against items in the Governance Action Plan for 2021/22.



Additional documents:


The Strategic Support Officer outlined the report setting out the area of focus at the end of the Annual Governance Statement considered earlier. The Action Plan sets out the progress made against these areas of focus.


The Strategic Support Officer pointed the Committee towards the differences between the responsible officer and the accountable officer. The responsible officer taking action to put the necessary measures in place, and the accountable officer receiving the assurance.


The Chair asked a question regarding the courses provided by and any assistance available from the Local Government Association (LGA)


The Interim Monitoring Officer set out training opportunities as part of LGA including the framework for Member Training. The proposal is that the Member Development Charter is adopted for a future member development programme.


The Committee queried the reporting timelines for the Audit Recommendations and the progress to date on this.


The Strategic Support Officer indicated that work on this is ahead of the target set within the Annual Governance Statement.


The Deputy Chief Executive outlined the context behind the Annual Governance Statement and suggested that if the Overview and Scrutiny Committee wished to examine the action plan, this, could be included on the work plan for the Committee.




The Committee asked whether there should be a separate heading for ICT as this was important to the Council’s operations.


The Deputy Chief Executive reiterated the role of the action plan to make improvements to the Council’s governance arrangements.  It was assured that ICT improvements are being made regularly.


RESOLVED that the recommendation to note the progress against items in the Governance Action Plan for 2021/22 is approved


Voting Record


Chair moved: 6 for, 0 against, 0 abstention, 1 absent






Use of the Internet and Social Media for Investigations and Enforcement Policy pdf icon PDF 85 KB


To present the Audit Committee with a new Use of the Internet and Social Media in Investigations and Enforcement Policy for comment.



That the Committee considers the Use of the Internet and Social Media in Investigations and Enforcement Policy and provides comments to the Cabinet for consideration.

Additional documents:


The Head of Service, Counter Fraud and Enforcement Unit outlined that this was the final Policy relating to surveillance activities and followed those which covered the Council’s obligations regarding the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. 


As per recommendations by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office, the overseeing body, the Policy outlines how staff will utilise open source intelligence and social media when investigating criminal offences.  The Policy ensures that staff and the public are protected and the correct controls are in place. 


The Policy is supported by a comprehensive Procedure Document which will not be publicised.  This details who will undertake checks, how these will be recorded and who oversees the activities.  


The Committee queried the role of elected representatives with regard to this the use of social media.


The Head of Service provided clarity that this relates to enforcement activities undertaken by staff and that elected members would not be using social media for this purpose.


The Committee asked how authorisation is given for criminal enforcement / investigations to be carried out, and what systems are in place to check this.


The Head of Service confirmed that all referrals are received centrally by the team and there is a triage arrangement in place which controls how cases are handled and are then dealt with.


The Committee asked about how privacy is balanced against the need for access to social media to carry out enforcement and whether there is a role for Members relating to whether enforcement activities are appropriate. 


The Head of Service confirmed that the team are only undertaking checks when there is a legitimate reason to do so.  In relation to decisions to prosecute any offences, this is a decision made by Legal Services and is based on the public interest and evidential tests, it is not a political decision.


RESOLVED: That the Committee has considered the Policy and has provided comments to Cabinet. .


Voting Record


6 for, 0 against, 0 abstention 1 absent



Annual Ombudsman Letter 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 80 KB


This report informs Audit Committee about the annual Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman’s (LGO’s) letter for 2021.



That the Committee note the Ombudsman’s letter.

Additional documents:


The Interim Monitoring Officer introduced the Annual Ombudsman Letter which was being presented to the Committee for the first time following changes to the Constitution in July.


The Interim Monitoring Officer set out how the Council has performed well within the findings for authorities in the South West.


The Committee asked whether the spreadsheet was required given that the format was difficult to read within the Document Pack.


The Interim Monitoring Officer agreed to set out a summary in an easier format when is next considered by the Committee. The first worksheet sets out the number of complaints, of  which there were 8, and any referrals to the ombudsman and recommendations where there were none. 


The Committee questioned the ability of the ombudsman and the power it may have over the authority.


The Interim Monitoring Officer explained that the likely impact of a negative Ombudsman decision would be reputational damage for the Council.  


The Committee asked about information being made available to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee as many of these matters would be relevant outside of the Audit Committee


The Chair recognised the role of Overview and Scrutiny in these matters, but highlighted the importance of acting swiftly in these cases.


The Interim Monitoring Officer explained that the information given to Overview and Scrutiny hasn’t changed, but it is the first time that the letter has been presented to the Audit Committee


RESOLVED: that the Committee notes the Ombudsman’s letter


Voting Record


6 for, 0 against, 0 abstention, 1 absent  




Work Plan 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 31 KB

Additional documents:


The Deputy Chief Executive informed the Committee that following the meeting of the Capital Programme Investment Board that proposed changes to the CIPFA Prudential code and Treasury Management Code would be presented to the Committee in January 2022.


The Chair agreed to the addition of this item.


It was also noted that the Aged Debtor Analysis report would be presented to the Committee in January 2022 to fulfil the Committee’s request.


RESOLVED: The Committee notes and agrees the work plan with the two additions added.


Voting Record


4 for, 0 against, 0 abstention, 2 absent