Agenda and draft minutes

Extraordinary Meeting - On the rising of the ordinary meeting of Full Council taking place on 20 February 2024, not before 14:00, Council - Tuesday 20 February 2024 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN. View directions

Contact: Kieran Elliott  Email: committee@wiltshire.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

19.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were previously received from Cllrs Helen Belcher OBE, Steve Bucknell, Ernie Clark, Sarah Gibson, and Tom Rounds.

 

The Chairman also accepted apologies from those Members who had attended the ordinary meeting but had needed to leave before it had concluded, as follows:

 

Cllrs Clare Cape, Sam Charleston, Mark Connolly, Caroline Corbin, Brian Dalton, Ross Henning, Ruth Hopkinson, Mel Jacob, George Jeans, Jacqui Lay, Ian McLennan, Dr Nick Murry, Andrew Oliver, Stewart Palmen, Rich Rogers, Ricky Rogers, Paul Sample JP, Ian Thorn, Tim Trimble, and Derek Walters.

20.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable interests or dispensations granted by the Standards Committee or Monitoring Officer.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations.

21.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements through the Chairman.

Minutes:

There were no announcements.

22.

Public Participation

The Council welcomes contributions from members of the public.

 

Statements

If you would like to make a statement at this meeting on any item on this
agenda, please register to do so at least 10 minutes prior to the meeting.
Members of the public are encouraged to register to speak earlier.


Up to 3 speakers are permitted to speak for up to 3 minutes each on any
agenda item. Statements must be relevant to the agenda item.


Questions
To receive any questions from members of the public received in accordance
with the constitution. No person or organisation may submit more than two
questions to the meeting. No question may be sub-divided into more than two
related parts.


Questions must relate to the subject under consideration at this extraordinary
meeting in order to be accepted.


Those wishing to ask questions are required to give notice of any such
questions in writing to the officer named above (acting on behalf of the Proper
Officer) no later than 5pm on 13 February 2024 in order to be guaranteed of a
written response. Questions submitted no later than 5pm on 15 February 2024 may receive a verbal response.

 

Questions may be asked without notice if the Chairman decides that the matter is urgent.


Details of any questions received will be circulated to Members prior to the
meeting and made available at the meeting and on the Council’s website.

Please contact the officer named on the first page of this agenda for further
advice.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions or statements received.

23.

External Auditors Statutory Recommendation

To consider a report from the Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer, and Section 151 Officer, in respect of a Statutory Recommendation issued by the External Auditors, Deloitte, under Section 24 Schedule 7 (2) of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

 

The recommendation states:

The Council needs to address the 49 control weaknesses reported from page 35 to 70 in [its] report, to ensure it has a financial reporting system that allows it to meet its statutory responsibilities to produce reliable and accurate financial statements.

 

The Council must consider the recommendation and decide whether the recommendation(s) are to be accepted, and what, if any, action to take in response to these recommendations.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Introduction

The Chairman invited Cllr Nick Botterill, Cabinet Member for Finance, Development Management, and Strategic Planning, to present a report providing detail of the statutory recommendation issued by the council’s External Auditor, Deloitte. This was in relation to the Statement of Accounts for 2019/20.

 

Cllr Botterill explained that the matter related to the technical valuing of assets held by the council, and that as a result of attempts to further regular the audit process there had been an unintended consequence resulting in many councils facing considerable delays with hundreds of delayed audits.

 

He expressed concern that the conclusion was not proportionate, and that the methodology of asset valuations used by the auditors did not reflect that assets such as roads or bridges were not trading or tradeable assets. It was stated the recommendation and judgement had no impact upon working capital or the finances of the council.

 

It was concluded that it was a requirement that the statutory recommendation be considered by Full Council within 30 days of it being issued, and that the Audit and Governance Committee had considered the draft report and approved a response. This would enable the council to move forward in relation to other delayed accounts. It was proposed that the meeting note the action taken, and this was seconded by Cllr Iain Wallis, Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee.

 

Group Leaders and Chairman comments

Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of the Council, noted that the issue of delayed accounts was being faced by councils across the country, and that the response proposed would enable the council to move forward.

 

Cllr Gordon King, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, supported the preceding comments and that he was content there was an action plan to work through what was demanded by the external audit process.

 

Cllr Wallis made reference to over 900 external audits being outstanding nationally. He stated he was impressed with the work the auditors had put in and the constructive criticism offered. He thanked the Audit and Governance Committee for its work and stated that the issue had been thoroughly reviewed.

 

Debate

During debate the long delays towards completing the 2019/20 accounts was noted, and that the process would be concluded with the resolution of the meeting. It was stated that the issue was a technical one not financial, and that the statutory recommendation did not reflect current concerns regarding the finances of the council.


A comment was also raised about whether there had been any external legal advice regarding the issue of valuation of assets, noting the council had a statutory duty to maintain many roads without owning those assets.

 

There was also a comment criticising the level of information on the matter that had been provided to Members directly throughout the process, instead relying on updates to the Audit and Governance Committee, requesting that where there were concerns these be raised more prominently for the attention of all Members, who could not be expected to be familiar with all council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

Recorded Vote
TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
External Auditors Statutory Recommendation Motion

That Council consider the Statutory Recommendation and note that the response to the section 24 Statutory Recommendation from the External Auditor had been approved by the Audit & Governance Committee and that response will be returned to the External Auditor following this meeting of Full Council.

Carried
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