Agenda and minutes

Audit and Governance Committee - Monday, 15th January, 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Dorchester, DT1 1XJ. View directions

Contact: John Miles  Email:


No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


An apology for absence was received from Cllr Susan Cocking.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 13th November 2023.


The minutes of the meeting held on 13 November were confirmed and signed.


Declarations of Interest

To disclose any pecuniary, other registrable or non-registrable interest as set out in the adopted Code of Conduct.  In making their decision councillors are asked to state the agenda item, the nature of the interest and any action they propose to take as part of their declaration.


If required, further advice should be sought from the Monitoring Officer in advance of the meeting.



No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests were made at the meeting.


Public Participation

Representatives of town or parish councils and members of the public who live, work, or represent an organisation within the Dorset Council area are welcome to submit either 1 question or 1 statement for each meeting.  You are welcome to attend the meeting in person or via MS Teams to read out your question and to receive the response. If you submit a statement for the committee this will be circulated to all members of the committee in advance of the meeting as a supplement to the agenda and appended to the minutes for the formal record but will not be read out at the meeting. The first 8 questions and the first 8 statements received from members of the public or organisations for each meeting will be accepted on a first come first served basis in accordance with the deadline set out below.


All submissions must be emailed in full to by 8.30 am on 10th January 2024.


When submitting your question or statement please note that:

· You can submit 1 question or 1 statement.

· A question may include a short pre-amble to set the context.

· It must be a single question and any sub-divided questions will not be permitted.

· Each question will consist of no more than 450 words, and you will be given up to 3 minutes to present your question.

· When submitting a question please indicate who the question is for (e.g., the name of the committee or Portfolio Holder)

· Include your name, address, and contact details.  Only your name will be published but we may need your other details to contact you about your question or statement in advance of the meeting.

· Questions and statements received in line with the council’s rules for public participation will be published as a supplement to the agenda.

· All questions, statements and responses will be published in full within the minutes of the meeting. 


No Public Participation.


Questions from Councillors


The Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee read out a statement submitted by Cllr Paul Kimber:


My concern are the very poorest in our Dorset community the people that are reliant on food banks and the families that are struggling to get by with the need for decent housing.

With the proposed council tax increase, it's going to be very difficult for our communities to get by, it sounds right and proper to have a more community-based alternatives in the budget.



Verbal Update on the 2021 Audit


Heather Lappin made a comment on the 2021 Audit. The Dorset Council and Pension Fund Audit was near completion. The accounts for the Deloitte Technical Team to review the updated format for the cash flow. The expectation was for this Audit to be completed in the next few weeks. The Value for Money Report would then follow. For the 2021-22 Audit, the Deloitte Audit Team were currently undertaking the Audit for the 2021-22, Dorset Council and Pension Fund Account. Which was currently due to come to the March Audit and Governance Committee. The Audit was progressing well with no concerns being raised at the present time. For the 2022-23 Audit there was a delay to the accounts due to the issues regarding asset valuations. The accounts had now been completed and published on the website. The 2023-24 Audit was preparing to close down the final accounts and the new contract for External Audit begins with this new Audit. She informed that they were in discussion with Grant Forton about the timing of the Audit and the Audit Plan was expected to come to the April Audit and Governance Committee.


Ian Howse commented that 2022-23 was a bit more complicated given where the legislation was, due to there being a proposal from government that had yet to be released around a potential backstop. This involved Auditors having to stop working on all Audits so that most assurance possible can be gained as quickly as possible on the more current work and accounts.  He responded to questions that Deloitte was well progressed with the 2021-22 Audit and all the planning procedures had been completed and was being reviewed.


Minutes of the Audit & Governance Sub-committee

To note the minutes of the Audit & Governance Hearing Sub-committee (if any meetings have been held).


No meetings held.


Risk Management Update pdf icon PDF 437 KB

To receive a report by Marc Eyre, Service Manager for Assurance.


The Service Manager for Assurance covered the Risk Management Update Report. He introduced the new Risk Management and Reporting Officer. With his appointment the Risk Management Function was moved across from Assurance Service into the Business Intelligence and Performance Service. This would result in greater alignment with the Performance Management Framework and embed risk management across the organisation.


There had been no dedicated risk resource since June 2023. Which led to significant slippage in risk reviews. As of 20th December, when the report was issued, 58% of risks were overdue for a review. The Risk Management and Report Officer had already begun to reduce these numbers down to 44%.  Other areas involved training and enabling a process of peer challenge to ensure a consistent approach to risk scoring was applied.


Co-opted member Mr Roach voiced an expectation that more substantive progress should be demonstrated for the risks identified as extreme, in terms of accountability, actions and timescales.  It was suggested that the Committee should pay close attention to the performance of these risks at future meetings.


Cllr Legg highlighted the risk of cyber-attacks on corporate bodies as very high.


In response to Cllr Legg’s question about what the risk owners in ICT are doing about the risks posed by cyber-attacks on corporate bodies. He informed that the ownership rested with individual risk owners and having business owners embedded into directorate management teams will help to reinforce that. 





Report of Internal Audit Activity Progress Report 2023/24- December 2023 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive a report by Sally White, Assistant Director for SWAP


The Principal Auditor introduced the 3rd Update Report for the 2023-24 financial year. SWAP offered a reasonable interim opinion, and no significant corporate risks were identified. There had been three Limited Assurance Opinion Reports since the last Update Report in September. With regards to actions in response to the Climate Emergency Audit, SWAP continue to keep in contact with the Corporate Director Transformation Innovation and Digital and the team. There would also be another formal follow up in the next few months. SWAP undertook a follow up of the Premises Health and Safety Audit and confirmed that 4 out of 7 outstanding actions had now been implemented with revised implementation dates for the remaining 3. Work had been taking longer to complete than anticipated and work was in progress to address all actions. The long outstanding actions had increased to 22. Officers in recent Audits had agreed relatively short implementation dates which they struggled to meet and then a revised date needed to be agreed. SWAP advised that they would encourage officers to be more realistic with their time scales in the future.


Co-opted Member Mr Roach raised that it should be unacceptable to revise timetables for Priority 1 Actions arising from Internal Audits particularly given the significant risks associated with those priorities. He asked if these could be flagged for the committee’s information and commentary. 


The Principal Auditor agreed that this information can be provided in the future in SWAP Reports.





Use of Authorised Covert Surveillance DOTX 50 KB

To receive a report by Marc Eyre, Service Manager for Assurance.

Additional documents:


The Service Manager for Assurance summarised the report. There was currently an existing Council policy for the regulation of the Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Compliance with the act is regulated by the Investigatory Powers Commission Office and this related to covert surveillance. He highlighted an error in the report which should read 6 months and not 12 in 2.2 in the policy. He highlighted that it was very rare that RIPA needed to be used and had not been used since the formation of Dorset Council. It was rare that any form of covert surveillance was necessary and had only been used once in the last 12 months for a full investigation. During the last investigation by the regulator which made a number of suggestions to improve the policy. One was to include a light touch process for covert surveillance that falls outside RIPA. The Regulator recommended that there should be reporting to the committee on how the powers have been used.




That the revised Use of Authorised Covert Surveillance Policy be approved.


Reason for Recommendation


To ensure compliance with RIPA and other associated surveillance legislation.



Managing Unreasonable Customer Behaviour Protocol DOTX 50 KB

To receive a report by Marc Eyre, Service Manager for Assurance.

Additional documents:


The Service Manager for Assurance introduced the report. The Unreasonable Customer Behaviour Protocol is currently how the council manages vexatious complainants and contact and in addition to that any incidences of aggression or violence. Most customers that deal with the council show respect but there were rare occasions where contact needed to be managed. The Unreasonable Behaviours panel had been strengthened with a member from the Mental Health Team and a member from the Ethnic Diversity Network.


On the panel of the Ethnic Diversity Network there were 12 individuals named on the supporting schedule. He went through some of the protocol changes which had been outlined in the report.


Cllr Robin Legg informed the committee that the protocol was less clear on vexatious people. He added that people often become vexatious because they were not fully listened to and he called for people to be dealt with more subtlety, and with more engagement.


In response, the Service Manager for Assurance added that the key thing was that officers had a view on the validity of the complaint and the individual had the ability to contact the ombudsman if they were unhappy with the initial response. In many cases that had been considered vexatious, often the complaints process had become exhausted, and officers continued to get contact, in which nothing can be added to the particular comment.


Cllr Robin Legg commented that often it was too expensive for individuals to take the council to court.




That the revised Managing Unreasonable Customer Behaviour protocol be endorsed.


Reason for Recommendation


To manage challenging customer behaviour and protect Council workers (whether employees, volunteers, or elected councillors).



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 18 KB

To consider the Work Programme for the Committee.


To add the 15th April External Audit 2022-23 to the Work Programme.


Urgent items

To consider any items of business which the Chairman has had prior notification and considers to be urgent pursuant to section 100B (4) b) of the Local Government Act 1972. The reason for the urgency shall be recorded in the minutes.


There were no urgent items.


Exempt Business

There are no exempt items scheduled for this meeting.


There was no exempt business.