Issue - meetings
Northamptonshire County Council
To consider a report and presentation on the findings of the Northamptonshire County Council Best Value Inspection, a comparison of the financial and governance positions of Central Bedfordshire Council and Northamptonshire County Council and proposed changes to Central Bedfordshire Council’s existing processes.
The Committee considered a report which discussed the findings of the Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) Best Value Inspection and compared the financial and governance position of Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC). Arising from the outcomes of the Best Value Inspection the report also set out management actions (in the form of recommendations) for implementation to Central Bedfordshire Council’s existing processes.
Accompanying the report at Appendix A was a slide pack entitled ‘Lessons Learned from the Northamptonshire Best Value Inspection Report’. The Director of Resources worked through the presentation and expanded on the content where necessary.
Points and comments included:
· The Chairman referred to the comment in the presentation on the failure to allow Scrutiny at NCC to consider budgetary proposals earlier in their development (in the autumn). He also drew attention to the comment that CBC also needed to consider this issue as its own current budget timetable was tight and Scrutiny only had a relatively short period to consider proposals. The Director of Resources explained that it was not suggested that a full draft budget would be submitted for consideration but 5-6 items would be highlighted for Scrutiny to consider at an earlier stage (i.e. October-December).
· The Director of Resources commented that two KPMG ISA 260 reports stating an adverse opinion on value for money matters were reported to NCC’s Audit Committee without comment and Members were ignored when seeking information. However, the Director also commented that he was unsure how far KPMG had sought to emphasise the financial situation at NCC and he stressed that external auditors needed to adopt a more rigorous approach in the future.
· The extent of CBC’s involvement with LGSS, being limited to legal services, was noted. It was also noted that the Director of Resources role was as a non-executive director who sat on the Board.
· The former Deputy Director of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer at CBC, had resigned and an executive director was being recruited. An interim internal appointment had been made.
· The Director of Resources referred to the level of debt owed to the LGSS Law by NCC and that Council’s control mechanism. He explained how there would be no lasting impact on cash flow. With regard to reputation he commented that further mergers could be difficult.
· The Director of Resources referred to the Best Value Inspection report which stated that it was difficult to see what additional saving had arisen at NCC as a result of the structural grouping and what would have occurred by normal management action. Further, much of the reported saving was routine service reductions. At CBC LGSS Law had initially delivered savings but in 2017/18 the outcome had been mixed. CBC was currently experiencing a large overspend on legal services. The volume of work had increased partly as the result of directing work through LGSS, rather than other third parties as would have occurred in the past so there were no hidden charges, but mainly because of an increase in the volume of cases from Children’s ... view the full minutes text for item 65