Agenda and minutes

Governance Committee - Wednesday, 17th January 2024 2.30 pm app available
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Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Chorley and YouTube

Contact: Ben Storey, Democratic & Member Services Officer  Email:


No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jean Sherwood who was substituted by Councillor Julia Berry.


Apologies for absence were also received from the Council’s two Independent Persons, Charlotte Fitch and Pete Ripley.


Declarations of Any Interests

Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any pecuniary interest in respect of matters contained in this agenda.


If you have a pecuniary interest you must withdraw from the meeting. Normally you should leave the room before the business starts to be discussed. You do, however, have the same right to speak as a member of the public and may remain in the room to enable you to exercise that right and then leave immediately. In either case you must not seek to improperly influence a decision on the matter.


No interests were declared.


Minutes of meeting Wednesday, 29 November 2023 of Governance Committee pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To agree the minutes of the last meeting, held on Wednesday 29 November 2023, as an accurate record for signing by the Chair.


Resolved: (Unanimously)


That the minutes of the last meeting, held on Wednesday, 29 November 2023, were agreed as an accurate record for signing by the Chair, subject to a minor grammatical amendment in paragraph 23.G.44 which should read as ‘Following further debate, a working group derived from the Governance Committee was proposed to explore these issues in greater depth and determine how any documents are set out and published.’


Annual Governance Statement Management Actions Update pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To receive and consider the report of the Director of Governance.


The Head of Audit and Risk presented this report which provided an update on agreed management actions in response to risks identified in the Annual Governance Statement.


Members’ attention was drawn to three areas specifically that related to non-implementation of agreed audit actions, the quality of the Council’s asset inventory and fully embedding risk management throughout the council. In addressing these actions, the Committee heard that progress had been made in achieving targets in completing agreed audit management actions through the use of the council’s risk management system, GRACE, and ongoing discussions and monitoring by directorate management teams. A significant piece of work had been undertaken over the last twelve months in logging inventories, utilising new systems to ensure that all the relevant processes were accurately followed, with a subsequent internal audit review completed to provide further assurances. The action concerning the updated Risk Management Strategy would be covered in greater detail in the later agenda item.


The Annual Governance Statement that will be presented to Committee in May would include a final update on the management actions, in addition to any further areas identified and reported in that document.


Responding to a number of questions, the Committee were advised that steps had been taken to better manage the council’s contracts, noting that a strengthened procurement team would soon be able to take a more proactive role in supporting teams in this area. Additionally, further clarification on processes around waiving of contract procedure rules was provided to members. Mandatory training was also highlighted within the report with improvements in completion rates of staff training across the organisation since the implementation of a rolling programme of online training now provided and regularly monitored.


The Committee were informed that the deferred audit review into how the council manage any risks of fraud was anticipated to be completed by the end of March 2024.


Reassurance was provided to Committee that no risks had been identified concerning procurement exercises that had been carried during the pandemic.


Resolved – That the update be noted.


Code of Conduct and Associated Social Media Protocol pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To receive and consider the report of the Director of Governance.

Additional documents:


The Deputy Monitoring Officer presented this report which sought the Committee’s recommendation to Full Council for the approval of the Local Government Association Model Code of Conduct and also to agree the terms of reference for a working group to consider the associated Social Media Protocol. Both the Code of Conduct and the Social Media Protocol were debated at the last meeting and a decision deferred to undertake further work and consideration. The proposed Code of Conduct seeks to align Chorley with the county council and other town and parish councils in the local area, providing a consistent approach for any members who may be elected to more than one council.


Members were supportive of adopting the new Model Code of Conduct and recommending its adoption by Full Council.


The Committee heard that there was a current protocol around social media use in place, and whilst it did also apply to members, it was noted that it was primarily directed towards council staff.


Following discussion, the Committee agreed to establish a working group to review the Social Media Protocol with the following terms of reference as suggested within the report:

a)    Authority to review other similar protocols

b)    That the wording should be declarative – “I will”

c)    That a comprehensive document would be preferable

d)    That it include a ‘dos and don’ts’ section

e)    That membership be drawn from the Governance Committee


Members also requested the process of adopting the new protocol be expedited, with a hope that this could be completed prior to the elections in May of this year.


Responding to a query about the complaints procedure and the benefits of a panel, and not just one senior officer, determining whether any complaints about councillors are escalated, the Committee were informed that the current procedure was comparable to most other local authorities with the Monitoring Officer ( or Deputy where appropriate) in consultation with one of the Council’s Independent Persons determining how best to handle any complaints received.


Resolved: (Unanimously)

That the Committee recommends to Council the approval and adoption of the Model Code of Conduct; and

That the Committee agree the terms of reference for a working group to be established to consider an updated Social Media Protocol for Members.


Internal Audit Progress Report pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To receive and consider the report of the Head of Audit and Risk.

Additional documents:


The Senior Auditor presented this report which provided an update on the work undertaken and ongoing in respect of the Internal Audit Plan (September 2023 – December 2023)


As outlined within the report, the Committees attention was drawn to the two reviews that had been given a ‘limited’ assurance rating, those being related to the physical security and environmental controls and also staff driving licence checks. It was noted that short deadlines for the completion of audit actions had been agreed to ensure areas of concern were addressed as soon as possible. The Director of Customer and Digital, the Head of HR and the Head of Property and Development were introduced to respond to any technical questions the Committee had.


Regarding the performance of the audit team, the Committee were provided reassurance that they were on track to deliver the Internal Audit Plan and satisfaction survey results remain high.


Questions were asked about the significant concerns around the security of the council’s ICT systems and sought assurances that actions would be completed by the agreed timescales. The seriousness of the issues highlighted within the report were acknowledged and in response, Members heard that progress had already been made in terms of sourcing specialist contractors to carry out the required work and was expected to be completed by the end of March 2024. Several aspects had already been actioned with regards to protocols around security alarms and building access. Clarification was provided with regards to fire suppression measures mentioned in the report, with additional staff training been arranged. Further work was also highlighted around CCTV which was underway following a new contract being agreed recently. Cost implications were being assessed as part of the project to complete the agreed audit actions with a further progress update at a future meeting welcomed by the Committee. Moving forward, a formal risk register was now in place which could be better monitored and managed, with risk management training undertaken with new starters and teams on an ongoing basis.


Responding to a query whether heat and energy produced from server rooms could be harnessed for use around the building, the Committee were informed that the increased use of cloud based external servers had reduced the overall need for on site servers, and advancements in technology meant that servers were generally much more efficient in their energy consumption.


Responding to queries raised regarding missed quality checks identified in the council tax review, it was noted that staffing changes and a period of transition as the two customer services teams became shared had been a factor but these checks had now been reintroduced.


Members were reassured that no areas of concern had been raised by the checks of staff driving licences, however the review had triggered a review of wider issues to consider such as insurance with updates to policies being made where appropriate.

On GDPR compliance it was noted that this was an ongoing process due to staff turnover with acknowledgement there may have been lapses,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.G.54


Risk Management Strategy pdf icon PDF 142 KB

To receive and consider the report of the Head of Audit and Risk.

Additional documents:


The Head of Audit and Risk presented this report which sought the Committee’s approval of the revised Risk Management Strategy.


Amendments to the document had been highlighted within the report with the key point being setting out the level of risk the Council is prepared to tolerate. Members were advised that any red residual risks that remained after directorate level review would now be escalated to the senior management team who would determine on a case-by-case basis whether to implement further controls or tolerate the risk. If approved, the next steps were for the Head of Audit and Risk to meet with senior managers to review their reports so that they can be regularly monitored.


Members were supportive of the proposed amendments to the Risk Management Strategy.


Resolved (Unanimously)

That the Committee approve the revised Risk Management Strategy.


RIPA Application Update

The Monitoring Officer will present a verbal report at the meeting.


The Deputy Monitoring Officer confirmed that no RIPA applications had been made since the last meeting of the Governance Committee.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To receive and consider the work programme for the Committee.


The Committee noted the work programme for the remaining meetings of the 2023/2024 municipal year, with the addition of an item at the March meeting which will consider the proposed new social media protocol that the working group will be reviewing.


Any urgent business previously agreed with the Chair


Members were reminded of the additional meeting of the Governance Committee scheduled for 2.30pm Thursday 8 February 2024.