Agenda item

Commencing a Corporate Governance Improvement Journey


A joint report of the Chief Executive, Director of Legal and Governance Services and the Director of Finance was presented that set out how the Council intended to respond to the various corporate governance concerns that had been presented to the Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee.


The report summarised the ongoing work that had been undertaken to identify weaknesses within the Council’s Corporate Governance framework, outlined the consequences of those ongoing weaknesses as well as the planned next steps.


The Council would commission the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) to complete an independent assessment of the issues identified to date, as well as undertaking a detailed engagement exercise with all stakeholders to consider whether there were other issues still to be identified and make recommendations on the proposed way forward.


In order to ensure that there was a broad consensus around the steps that need to be taken, CIPFA would complete a short piece of work to engage with Members from across the political spectrum, officers and other stakeholders.  This work would be completed over six weeks and look to identify:


  • A consensus on the issues that exist.
  • Where there continue to be differing views on issues.
  • Make recommendations on how weaknesses in the Council’s processes could be addressed.
  • Consider steps that could be taken to begin to address some of the underlying cultural issues which had existed for some time.


CIPFA would be uniquely placed to provide rapid, expert views on the effectiveness of current systems, policies and processes.  The organisation was also currently providing support in a number of Councils that had been subject to government intervention and would therefore bring significant expertise to the table on what effective improvement and cultural change looked like.


The Council’s proposed response had not been developed in isolation.  The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee, the Mayor, Executive Member for Finance and Governance, Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer and the Section 151 Officer had all been engaged on this matter.  The three Statutory Chief Officers had jointly led the development of the proposed approach.


A timetable had been put in place to ensure a rapid conclusion to this exercise so that the Full Council could collectively input into the process to identify the issues, while also enabling it to quickly move into delivery, in order to demonstrate a good pace of progress.  Findings from the CIPFA work and a proposed action plan would be presented to Full Council for consideration.  This would also set out the planned governance and reporting arrangements for the subsequent improvement plan to ensure all Members had the opportunity to comment and contribute.


A Member voiced concern about the timetable in light of the forthcoming local elections in May 2023.   The Chief Executive commented that the first six weeks’ work would be critical to understand where there was, and was not, agreement on the issues.  Irrespective of the political or officer make-up of the Council, the tone and plan for improvements needed to be set.  It was envisaged that the culture would not change in the next six months but with an open process and plan it was hoped that there would be some demonstrable improvements.


AGREED as follows that the Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee:

1.   noted the information set out in the submitted report.

2.   endorsed the commissioning of CIPFA to complete this diagnostic work.

3.  recognised and took up the opportunities to act as champions of the process to proactively ensure that the recommendations of the External Auditor were effectively addressed.

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