Agenda item



To accept the Annual Improvement Plan and endorse the response action plan. 



The Chief Executive introduced a report to receive the Annual Improvement Report of the Auditor General, which for 2015 incorporated the first Corporate Assessment, and to endorse the executive action plan response. 


He invited Mr. Huw Lloyd Jones from the Wales Audit Office (WAO) to make the presentation and added that the report had been considered by Cabinet and Audit Committee and would be submitted to the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 16 April 2015.  He explained that a summary report was included but that the full report had been sent to Members in advance of the meeting. 


Mr. Lloyd Jones detailed the background to the report and provided a detailed presentation which included the following key areas:-


·         What’s in the report?

·         Arrangements

·         Use of resources

·         Service performance

·         Likelihood conclusion

·         Overall conclusion


Mr. Lloyd Jones explained the arrangements for Corporate Assessments to be undertaken on a four year cycle across all Welsh Councils.  The fieldwork had been undertaken in September 2014 but was not exclusively based on events in that week.  It included events both before 15 September and after 19 September partly due to the implementation of a new operating model at that time.  The main findings were detailed in the summary report and whilst seven proposals had been identified, there were no statutory recommendations.  An action plan had been prepared to address the proposals and ensure they were followed up.


            The Leader of the Council indicated that it had initially been felt that September was not the best time due to the introduction of the new Chief Officer team.  However, he welcomed the report and he felt that it was pleasing that there were no formal recommendations.  The report gave great credit to those who had made contributions and he felt that the report should give the Council confidence. 


            Councillor Alison Halford raised concerns about the serious issue of the Council not preparing decent reports to Overview & Scrutiny committees, which had been discussed previously.  Another worry was that Human Resources were overstretched and she highlighted staff appraisals in particular.  She also raised the issue of AD Waste and the length of time it had taken to complete investigations. 


            Mr. Lloyd Jones explained that he had not raised the issue of Overview & Scrutiny reports in the past but added that some reports could be clearer.  He added that Members could also ask for improvements in reports if they did not feel that they were appropriate.  The Chief Executive referred to the change in format of Overview & Scrutiny Committees that was to be submitted to the Annual Meeting of the Council in May 2015.  He hoped that Members would welcome the idea of updating the format of reports and the style off meetings to make them more purposeful.  Demands on Human Resources  had been high for some time but the team did perform well in comparison to others in Wales.  Officers were committed to undertaking a new model of appraisals and were on target to achieve this.  He advised that it was appropriate to discuss AD Waste in a public meeting. 


            Councillor Richard Jones commented on reports submitted to Overview & Scrutiny which then went onto Cabinet, but any changes identified were not taken forward.  He highlighted the fifth proposal from WAO, which he disagreed with, and said that it should be changed to ensure that items were considered by Overview & Scrutiny before Cabinet.  He felt that the response did not take account of decision making and that more consideration needed to be given to the timings of reports to Overview & Scrutiny before they were submitted to Cabinet.  A review of the Council’s performance had found that 23 of the 44 national indicators were equal to, or above, the Welsh average which was a slight deterioration from 28 in 2012-13.  Councillor Jones felt that it was important to monitor this and that it should not be allowed to reduce further.  He added that he could not support P5. 


            In response, Mr. Lloyd Jones explained that if reports were considered prior to submission by Cabinet, it was important to ensure that any changes were brought to the attention of Cabinet, either verbally or by providing a briefing note to the meeting.  On the issue of performance indicators, Mr. Lloyd Jones said that some of the 44 indicators were important and some less so and that each should be considered in turn to identify if it was a priority or not. 


            Councillor Hilary Isherwood concurred with the comments of Councillors Jones and Halford and spoke of incidents where Overview & Scrutiny meetings had been adjourned to allow Members to receive late paperwork.  She added that it was important that reports and documents could be understood by the public to ensure transparency.  Councillor Mike Peers commented on reports recently that had been submitted to Members to replace reports or documents in agendas that they had been sent.  In referring to the Executive response and the responses provided, he asked whether an indication had been given by WAO of how satisfied they were with the Council’s response.  He highlighted P4 on the Member Development Scheme and explained that this had been discussed at a recent Group Leader’s meeting.  They had agreed that undertaking training would be encouraged if it was felt that there was value in the training. 


            Councillor Hilary McGuill was encouraged by P4 on Member development and said that it was important for Members to advise of the training that they required but suggested that some training should be compulsory such as Corporate Parenting training.  Councillor Chris Bithell commented that Members had been asked to identify the training that they needed.  Councillor Robin Guest suggested that refresher training was appropriate where updates were available or skills needed improving.  He said that it was recognised that training and development did not always work as it should but reminded Members that they could request required training.  Councillor Peter Curtis agreed with the issue of training but added that it was important to make it interesting.   


            The Chief Executive welcomed the report and said that the Authority would always be looking for ways to improve.  On the issue of Overview & Scrutiny, he explained that it was important that the Chairs of the six Committees to work with officers on the role of Overview & Scrutiny following the Annual Meeting.  He felt that forward planning was important along with the need to be clear why a request to consider an item was being received. 




To accept the Annual Improvement Plan and endorse the response action plan. 


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