Agenda item

Annual Governance Statement (Draft)

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


The Chair invited the Director of Governance and Monitoring Officer to present the draft Annual Governance Statement for approval.


Member’s attention was drawn to section four of the document which outlined the processes to review the effectiveness of the council’s governance frameworks and referenced the re-establishment of the Corporate Governance Group in response to governance issues that had arisen. The group was now meeting regularly and was spearheading the greater focus on governance across the organisation and taking ownership of matters including risk, compliance, management and Annual Governance Statements actions and external audit.


A nearly fully staffed senior management and leadership team over the last twelve months had also seen a significant difference with this providing a platform for improvements in all areas of governance to be achieved.


Changes in the way the services assurance statement was developed this year was highlighted, as part of which Heads of Service were invited to all meet, self-reflect and share good practice amongst their peers. The result of which was a positive and productive session that will be repeated later in the year.


Although the section regarding complaints needed completing, it was confirmed that there had been no complaints made to the Local Government Ombudsman upheld.


The work carried out to embed risk management across the council, through the GRACE system, was also improving. Furthermore, issues identified around escalation of risks had been addressed within the revised Risk Management Strategy.


Updates to section five of the document included a different way of categorising the current position with ‘partially implemented’ now not being carried over to the subsequent year if sufficient work had been done to provide assurance that it was no longer a significant issue for the council. Issues around sundry debtors that had been highlighted in the past year had been acknowledged within the document, as were the key recommendations of the external audit.


On whether it would be possible for members attending and observing meetings of the Corporate Governance Group it was acknowledged that it was an officer led group looking at operational risks. However, members were reassured that the Committee would see the same information when update reports on management actions are brought before them. Further work was welcomed on informing members of the various groups in operation and their role, such as the Corporate Governance Group and the Information Security Council.


Questions were asked on mitigating the risks around cyber security, including the training of staff and other measures in place. Members heard that a new cyber security officer had been recruited in the past twelve months to strengthen this area, alongside training carried out specifically around the threat from phishing, penetration testing was also undertaken by external agencies to identify any weaknesses. At the request of the Committee, a member learning session around cyber security would be arranged for all members, in addition to a shorter presentation by the Director of Customer and Digital for the Governance Committee.


Responding to a query over Committee receiving an annual update on standards complaints, their nature and outcomes, it was agreed that an update would be brought to a future meeting. It was however stressed that there was a relatively low number of complaints received given the number of councillors at Chorley and was not deemed a significant issue.


Resolved: (Unanimously)


That the draft Annual Governance Statement be approved, subject to any minor amendments.

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