Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: The Bainbridge Room, The Copeland Centre, Catherine Street, Whitehaven. CA28 7SJ

Contact: Clive Willoughby  Tel: 07385 362806

No. Item

C 22/9

Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Charles Maudling, Brian O’Kane, Carl Walmsley, Steven Morgan, Tom Higgins, Allan Forster and Eileen Weir.


C 22/10

Declarations of Interest in Agenda Items


No declarations of Interests were made at this meeting.

C 22/11

Chair's Announcements


The Chair advised Council that she had agreed to an additional item to be added to the agenda, the matter required Council approval at this meeting and a copy of the report had been tabled.


The Chair agreed to take this item first.


C 22/12

Urgent Item - Dispensation


Councillor David Moore introduced the report, which Councillor Andy Pratt seconded.


There were no questions asked.


RESOLVED – That, in accordance with section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972, the dispensation for Councillor Fred Gleaves on Grounds of ill health until 31st March 2023 be agreed.


C 22/13

Section 24 Statutory Recommendations pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Additional documents:


The Mayor introduced the report before handing over to the Council’s external auditors, Grant Thornton UK LLP, representative Gareth Kelly to present the Grant Thornton report. The Director of Financial Resources then took the opportunity to explain the Councils response to the recommendations and the actions which are proposed to be taken.


Councillor Felicity Wilson requested that that the Audit documents come to Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC), which the Director of Financial Resources agreed to, after the documents had been to the Audit Committee.


Councillor Michael McVeigh asked for background information on a Section 114. The Director of Financial Resources informed members that a Section 114 can be issued by the Council should the Section 151 Officer not be able to balance the budget. Councillor McVeigh then asked what the impact of Copeland’s legacy would be on Cumberland. Mr Kelly first noted that, as the independent appointed external auditor, it was not appropriate for him to enter into any debate or be drawn into politics. Mr Kelly then went on to explain that as long as Copeland have a composite action plan, involve wider stakeholders and are serious about putting the accounts right with achievable target deadlines, Copeland can aim for having two outstanding audit accounts, which is only one more than all councils will have come Vesting Day.


[Councillor Dinsdale joined the meeting]


Councillor Sam Meteer asked for clarification on the difference between the statutory requirements and the recommendations, with a query as to how Councillors can help outside of Audit Committee. The Director of Financial Resources highlighted those timescales are the key, noting that bringing the accounts up to date will take time with the Audit Committee and auditors’ involvement. The recommendations will have action plans and officers assigned to help implement.


Councillor Joseph Ghayouba queried the budget assumptions made, the need for the re-valuations, the AAT Qualifications of the Finance Team and the additional cost of outside expertise to help with all the issues. The Director of Financial Resources responded that the budget assumptions were made as part of the requirements for a Section 151 Officer at that time, based on the estimates available and that the re-valuations are needed but that they have no impact on the revenue/capital budgets as they are an accounting issue. He then went on to explain that, historically, the standard in the finance team was poor but this has improved since the Director of Financial Resources joined the Council to bring Copeland up to a comparable position with the other districts. Mr Kelly noted that errors found in the balance sheet had no impact on revenue/financial stability, although there is still a risk. The AAT reference within the report related to the internal audit specialist, but that appropriate training/development/experience is in place, with action points in place to help. Regarding outside expertise, the Director of Financial Resources noted that Cumbria County Council provided accounting for support at no cost and organisations such as CIPHA and LG Future, where it would  ...  view the full minutes text for item C 22/13


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