Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Ruthin and by video conference


Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item



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Apologies for absence was received from Councillor Justine Evans.





Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting. 

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Lay Member Nigel Rudd declared a personal interest as he was a member of the Conwy County Borough Council Governance and Audit Committee.


The Chair, Lay Member David Stewart declared a personal interest as he was a recipient of a Clwyd Pension fund pension noted in agenda item 6 and was a member on the Governance and Audit committee on Wrexham County Borough Council in relation to agenda item 11.


Lay Member Paul Whitham declared a personal interest as he was a recipient of a Clwyd Pension fund pension noted in agenda item 6.


Councillor Arwel Roberts declared a personal interest as he was a recipient of a Clwyd Pension fund pension noted in agenda item 6.


Councillor Ellie Chard declared a personal interest as he was a recipient of a Clwyd Pension fund pension noted in agenda item 6.


Councillor Mark Young declared a personal interest as he was the Chair of Governors of Denbigh High School which was mentioned in agenda item 7.







Notice of items, which in the opinion of the Chair should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency pursuant to Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

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MINUTES pdf icon PDF 328 KB

To receive the minutes of the Corporate Governance Committee meeting held on 31 January 2024 (copy enclosed).

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The minutes of the Governance and Audit Committee meeting held on the 31 January 2024 were presented for consideration.


Matters of accuracy –

Page 9 – Minutes – the final paragraph ‘terms of reference for

Governance and Audit Committee, Council and Scrutiny Committees in sync’ should read ‘not’ in sync.

Page 17 - Ombudsman Annual Letter 22/23 – the resolution should also include members agreed to receive the report as an appendix to the Annual Complaints report which was due later in the year.


Matters arising –

Page 9 and 10 – Minutes – Mr Nigel Rudd stated he had agreed to provide a note summarising his views at the last meeting and for that note to be circulated to the committee which had been omitted from the minutes. He confirmed he had completed a note and sent to the Chair and officers to pass to Members. The note provided covered a number of items for Members information. The Monitoring Officer confirmed he had been in receipt of the note from Lay Member Nigel Rudd, he apologised he had not circulated the note to Members but would rectify the issue and circulate to Members.


Page 8 – Minutes – Matters arising – The Monitoring Officer informed the committee a meeting would arranged between the Chief Internal Auditor and Monitoring Officer before the Annual Governance Statement was presented to the Committee. The Chief Internal Auditor confirmed he would revise what information was available on local government codes and diarise a meeting with the Monitoring Officer.


Page 8 – Minutes – Matters arising – The Monitoring Officer confirmed a meeting had taken place between the Senior Leadership Team of the Council and various regulators and the director for Social Services and the Monitoring Officer raised the concerns of the council. The concerns raised by the committee were taken on board, it was taken that due to having a face to face meeting there was no need to send a letter to the regulators.


Page 10 – Minutes – Matters arising – The Chair stressed the importance of being aware of the timing of meetings in relation to the budget process. It needed to include the work of the committee on a wider context. It was a reflection of the committee’s role and ability to add value without unnecessary duplicating other processes. The Terms and Reference of the Committee should include the role and function of the committee.

The Monitoring Officer confirmed 170 meetings were arranged annually, the Council’s calendar of meetings would hopefully be presented to County Council in May 2024 for ratification for the following 18 months of timetabling. The comments of the committee would be taken into consideration when the schedule was produced.


Page 12 – Treasury Management – the Head of Finance confirmed the training slides following the Arlingclose training session had been circulated for Members. She also stated an additional session had been arranged for those that could not make the last session.

Work was still undergoing in relation to the commitment to sharing the timescales borrowing from the UK Infrastructure bank. It was hoped it would be available in the new financial year.   

It was confirmed a copy of the Capital report and Capital strategy had been circulated to all Members. In her opinion the scrutiny of those Capital Prudential Indicators should sit within the Capital programme.


Page 14 – Treasury Management – The Head of Finance confirmed she had contacted Arlingclose informing them of the committees raising of the risk of communication between the authority and Arlingclose to ensure they are aware of who to contact  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.



To receive a verbal report from the Audit Wales Representative on the progress of the audited statement of accounts closedown.


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The Chair welcomed the Audit Wales representative Mike Whiteley to the meeting to present a verbal update on the progress made on the Audit Wales work in relation to the Statement of Accounts.


The Audit Wales representative reminded Members at the last meeting the progress regarding the audited Statement of Accounts was set out to Members. A slot on the April’s Governance and Audit Committees forward work programme to present the final report was agreed.


He was pleased to report the audit work was progressing well. He confirmed he was successful in securing additional resources from other clusters within Audit Wales to support with the audit work. Assuming there was no issues with the remaining work, Audit Wales were still on track to have it completed by the end of March and ready to be presented at April Committee meeting.

He highlighted there was a risk he wanted to make Members aware of. National issues had arisen from some national audits completed across Wales, that could impact on all authorities. Work with the Head of Finance and the Finance team was taking place to establish if those issues were present at Denbighshire. It was still early days, but subject to the outcome, some additional work would need to be undertaken by the council and then audited. It was not sure at this stage to say if the issue was applicable to Denbighshire or not. The Audit Wales representative confirmed he would keep Members informed via the Chair.


Members asked in relation to the other authorities in Wales were Denbighshire was in relation in completing the audit of the statement of accounts. In response the Audit Wales representative said to his knowledge there was at least 5 or 6 audits for local authorities still ongoing.

He confirmed he would find the most up to date figures and circulate to Members following the meeting.


In response to Members concerns on the impact it would have to Denbighshire County Council, Members heard it would have no direct impact on the bottom line on the usable reserves of the authority. The impact would be seen on the unusable reserves those things not directly available to support the delivery of services. In addition, the Head of Finance, the resource implication around the delay and additional work required that would have the biggest impact on the team.


RESOLVED that the Governance and Audit Committee note the verbal update.







To receive a verbal update from the Head of Finance on the budget process.


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The Chair introduced the verbal update from the Head of Finance, he reminded Members it was a follow up report from the last meeting. He reminded Members it had been agreed to receive a verbal update at this meeting with a further report to be presented at the April Committee meeting.


Members heard that Denbighshire County Council were not the only authority facing financial challenges. Members and officers were all faced with unprecedented circumstance.


The Head of Finance thanked the Chair for the introduction. She informed the committee County Council met on the 30th January 2024 to approve the budget £24.6m of pressures and that budget was balanced by a combination of £10.4m in savings which equated to 42%, the Revenue Support Grant of £6.7m at the draft settlement which equated to 27% and the council tax yield which was £7.5m for council services of 8.23% and 1.11% for the fire equating to a combined total of 9.34%.

County Council met again on the 27th February 2024 and passed the formal Council Tax resolution. Which the committee had a duty to resolve. It also received and approved the authorities Capital Programme and the Treasury Management Strategy. That concluded all of the budgetary work formally for the 2024/25 budget round.

The £10.4m savings was split into major projects (change to delivery of service) and non-strategic savings. She reminded Members a £3m savings target had been allocated to all Heads of Service to achieve. Work had been undertaken to achieve that saving.

Members workshops were taking place over the coming weeks to provide an update to Members on all areas of savings. It was felt this was necessary as a proportion of that saving would be seen from the voluntary exit scheme. Members heard the voluntary exit scheme had now run its course which involved employees submitting an application to leave the organisation followed by Heads of Service completing a business case for each individual which assessed the impact on the team/service and provided a view if that post could be released. All of those business cases were considered by the Corporate Executive Team, there had been circa 140 applications which a decision had to be determined. That had concluded and Heads of Service with the support from HR staff were in the process of communicating with staff the decision that was reached. It was hoped the process would conclude in the coming weeks. It had been a rigorous process and a learning process for the authority.


Work on a tracker of how the savings would be tracked had begun. Heads of Service were in the process of completing that and would feed through in the upcoming workshops. The Head of Finance confirmed she would include in the report due in April.

Informally the Senior Leadership Team had been feeding back to Cabinet on the £3m savings target and progressing well. All service areas were confident they would meet each target. The issue may be achieving the target by the 1st April 2024.


The final settlement from Welsh Government had been received on 27th February 2024. There was a slight movement in the figures due to the transfers in for grants. It was stressed that it had no impact on the level of funding, the extra funding was grants expected by the authority. It included the consequential, this was funding that Welsh Government had received due to increased spending on social care in England. That funding was estimated at £25m across Wales. £10m had been inputted into maintaining the social care force grant. With the remaining funds transferred  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

At this juncture (11.00 a.m.) there was a 10 minute comfort break.


The meeting reconvened at 11.10 am.




To consider a report by the Chief Internal Auditor (copy enclosed) updating members on Internal Audit progress.



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The Chief Internal Auditor (CIA) along with the Principal Internal Auditor introduced the report (previously circulated). Members were updated on the Internal Audit Team’s progress in terms of its service delivery, assurance provision, reviews completed, performance and effectiveness in driving improvement.


The report provided information on work carried out by Internal Audit since the last committee meeting. It allowed the committee to monitor Internal Audit’s performance and progress as well as providing summaries of Internal Audit reports.

Confirmation that 12 Audits had been completed since the last committee report in November 2023. The CIA emphasised how hard his team had worked to complete those audits, he stressed together with the demands of the 7 special investigations the officers were working tirelessly to complete the planned work alongside the additional audit. 11 out of the audits had received a high assurance rating and 1 medium. Details of each of the audits completed were included in the agenda report paperwork. He reminded Members they do receive each completed audit prior to the update report being presented to the committee and was happy to receive any questions via email when those report were circulated.


The CIA guided Members through the table of Wales Audit Office reports specific to Denbighshire County Council that were due to be undertaken in

2023/24. Members heard he produced a report for the Corporate Executive Team, Senior Leadership Team and Cabinet on all Wales Audit reports.


Members were guided through the details of the Estyn Visits and the other external audits completed on the authorities’ work and practices 


The CIA provided an update on the makeup of the department and was pleased with the progress the team were making in learning and developing skills.

Details of the programme of work and proposed audits was provided. Some of the initial programmed audits have had to be deferred due to the time auditors inputted into the seven special investigations. It was hoped 50% of the initial plan would be completed by the end of the financial year.


Members were guided to the performance measures section of the report. He stressed the team’s performance measures had improved over the last 3-4 months. He was pleased to report all but one performance area was exceeding target. The measure on ‘Percentage of audit agreed actions that have been implemented by schools’ had increased since last reported to the committee. It was stressed one member of the team had worked extremely hard to improve this performance area and was in regular contact with the schools in the authority.


The Chair thanked the Chief Internal Officer for the detailed introduction.


During the discussion – 

·         The Chair thought it would be beneficial to share any comments the audit team circulated from Members comments and questions outside the meeting to all Members of the committee.

·         It was also agreed the information included on the external audits and reports was beneficial for Members and it was agreed to proceed to include in update reports.

·         It was disappointing to note the PLASC returns had been destroyed. Members heard training had been provided to ensure it did not happen again. It was pleasing for Members to note they were now being kept digitally and hard copies.

·         Denbighshire Leisure Limited currently had a Service Level Agreement with Denbighshire County Council this was due to cease this year. Going forward they have employed their own internal auditors. There was still the Member agreement in place and it allowed the authority to perform any audits it wished. Going forward DLL would form part of the annual audit plan.

·         Regular meetings with the Head of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.



To receive a report by the Chief Internal Auditor (copy enclosed) which provides information on the work carried out by Internal Audit during the last six months around partnerships arrangements within the Council.


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The Chief Internal Auditor introduced the report on Partnership update for Denbighshire County Council (previously circulated).


As stated in the report the Chief Internal Auditor, the audit team had been delayed in starting the work on the partnership arrangements in the council. Work in this area had commenced the end of last year. The team had used a previous report produced in 2016 as a starting point. It was confirmed the team had met with all Heads of Service and discussed the arrangements around partnership working. Management Teams in each service had begun to look into the partnership arrangements and were providing information to the Internal Audit team. The aim of the work was to look at both formal and informal partnerships and also the different arrangements in place across North Wales. It was hoped the work would be completed by the end of the Summer for an update report to be presented to the Committee in September. Members heard the Corporate Executive Team had also requested sight of the report to monitor and review how the council moves forward including looking at the possibility of more collaborative working and how that would be managed in the future.


The Chair thanked the Chief Internal Auditor for the report and introduction. He stated the reason the committee had requested the work to demonstrate to the Members the partnership arrangements within the authority. Members had previously requested a mapping exercise and was pleased to hear that was the intended to be completed. A key element of the requested work was the governance arrangements lie and who is responsible for monitoring different elements.

The Chief Internal Auditor felt the authority and services were aware of the partnerships it held, it currently was not corporally held anywhere. A cross council approach to the partnerships was vital.


Members heard the Internal Audit team would be involved with the Levelling Up Funding Projects. Wrexham County Borough Council was the lead authority for the delivery of phase 1. The team were awaiting direction from Wrexham County Borough Council with a direction of the work that would be required by Denbighshire County Council’s Internal Audit team. It was felt the requirement would be to audit the projects between April – June to ensure the monies had been spent and spent appropriately and the projects delivered. The work would form part of the audit plan.


Lay member Nigel Rudd felt it would have been useful for the committee to have received a draft template report, completed to the best of officer’s ability with the information already obtained and would clearly show any gaps. Allowing Members the opportunity to become aware of those gaps to give those attention. In his opinion the report was a task and finish piece of work, that was capable of being delivered in a shorter period of time.

He also raised that within Denbighshire County Council, there was a Partnerships Scrutiny Committee which would suggest the authority was aware of the existing partnerships. He informed Members he reviewed the terms of reference of the Partnerships Scrutiny Committee and the workload which did address some areas of partnerships but also in his opinion numerous areas which were not related to partnerships held by the authority. He felt there was an implication in the work the committee requested by the committee that required the terms or reference for other committees be reviewed. He stressed the importance of sight of the initial draft mapping to begin that process.

Councillor Bobby Feeley echoed the concerns of the Partnerships Scrutiny Committee.


The Monitoring Officer informed the committee legal completed some  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.



To consider the committee’s forward work programme (copy enclosed).

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The Governance and Audit Committee’s Forward Work Programme (FWP) was presented for consideration (previously circulated).


The Chair informed the Committee, along with the Vice-Chair he had met with officers in February to discuss the FWP. To review and rationalising the work programme.

It was stressed the importance of balancing the work load over meetings. The importance of having some flexibility when it related to certain areas such as the Statement of Accounts.


The Chair informed Members the Annual report on the constitution had been deferred from January 2024 and was now scheduled for the April 2024 meeting. The Monitoring Officer stated there was a need for the committee to receive an annual report. If a full report of the constitution was not available for the April meeting, a report on the terms of reference of the Governance and Audit Committee would be presented for discussion.


The next Committee meeting was scheduled for 24th April 2024. The Statement of Accounts was due to be presented to Committee at that meeting and the Chair stressed that item may have to be given time due to the nature of the discussion. 


An information report on the Corporate Risk Register had been previously agreed by the Committee and was absent on the June proposed agenda.


The Chair confirmed the Annual Complaints report would be a report presented for discussion and not only for information.


The Committee meeting scheduled for September 2024 was very light with just 2 information reports currently scheduled.


Under the future agenda items, the Chair stated the report on ‘Updates of Commissioning of older peoples care home placements’ had passed and he was no longer required.  

There was still a requirement to include a future report on the Housing Revenue Account for future discussion.

In relation to the JICPA Assessment Update the Monitoring Officer stated Members had asked for any developments or updates be communicated to the Committee. He stated he would confirm with officers for any update.


The future report on the Committee’s Terms of Reference, Nigel Rudd confirmed he had asked for the 2011 measures to be made available to Members, which was the legislation that drove the formation of Governance and Audit, including the Terms of Reference.  

A copy of the Local Government Wales Measure 2011 was shared with Members of the committee and on Zoom.

In his opinion Mr Nigel Rudd, Members needed to ensure the Governance and Audit Committee had a duty to comply with the legislation was actively complying. So when asked could evidence the work of the committee.


He guided Members through the paper and directed Members to the section 81(1) (a) and (b). The word ‘scrutinise’ was still included in the legislation and needed to be reflected in the work of the Governance and Audit committee.

In his opinion he felt it was important within the Committee to provide a ‘shield of protection’ around the decisions that the Council, in relation to setting a balanced budget make.

He felt it was vital that the committee received and debated the finance side of the authority as part of a systematic cycle at the right time of the year.


He suggested officers along with the Chair and Vice Chair revisited the FWP to address and view the appropriate time to include the authorities’ financial reports.

Mr Rudd guided Members through the remainder of the Section 81 (1) grouping together in his opinion the types of committee reports that had to be presented to the committee at the appropriate times.


He highlighted the comment in the paper were it stated it was for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


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To receive for information, the Audit Wales report entitled Use of Performance Information: Service User Perspective and Outcomes – Denbighshire County Council (copy enclosed).

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The Chair thanked the Audit Wales representatives for the reports.


The Monitoring Officer stated the Audit Wales report- Use of Performance Information was a National report that had been carried out.

In addition, the Strategic Planning and Performance Team Leader confirmed the organisational response had been included with the papers.


The Audit Wales representative Lora Williams confirmed the report formed part of a National report but the papers included in the agenda were specific to Denbighshire. She informed the committee a National summary would be shared detailing good practices to support authorities to fulfil the recommendations noted in the individual authority reports.


Members were guided to the response from Denbighshire County Council which was included at agenda pages 78-80.   


RESOLVED that the Governance and Audit Committee note the contents of the Audit Wales report – Use of Performance Information.







To receive for information, the Audit Wales report entitled Sustainable Development? – Making best use of brownfield land and empty buildings (copy enclosed).


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The Chair informed Members he would take agenda items 11, 12 and 13 Audit Wales information reports together.


The Strategic Planning and Performance Team Leader informed Members, officers were currently drafting the organisational responses for the reports on Sustainable development? – making best use of brownfield land and empty buildings and the report on Digital Strategy Review.


In relation to Agenda item 11 - Sustainable development? – making best use of brownfield land and empty buildings, Councillor Mark Young asked if all the departments and services were involved in the discussions around working towards the recommendations.  In response the Strategic Planning and Performance Team Leader confirmed the management response had been reviewed by Emlyn Jones, Head of Planning, Public Protection & Countryside Services along with relevant officers.


The recommendations included in the Audit Wales reports had been agreed, with official organisational responses were being drafted by Head of Corporate Support Service - Performance, Digital & Assets.


The responses once completed would be provided to the Committee once completed. 


RESOLVED that Members of the Governance and Audit Committee note the information report.




To receive for information, the Audit Wales report entitled Digital Strategy Review - Denbighshire County Council (copy enclosed).


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Agenda item 12 was discussed on block under agenda item 11.


RESOLVED that Members of the Governance and Audit Committee note the

information report.




To receive for information, the Audit Wales report entitled Setting of Well-being Objectives - Denbighshire County Council (copy enclosed).



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Agenda item 13 was discussed on block under agenda item 11.


RESOLVED that Members of the Governance and Audit Committee note the information report.



The meeting concluded at 13.20 p.m.

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