Agenda and minutes

Audit, Pensions and Standards Committee
Wednesday, 6th December, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  Tel: 020 8753 2063

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 287 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting and note the outstanding actions on the action tracker (Appendix 1).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED

The minutes of the meeting held on 20 September 2017 were approved and signed by the Chair.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors David Morton and Donald Johnson.

 

Apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Guy Vincent.

3.

Declarations of Interest

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.

 

At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter.  The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.

 

Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.

 

Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Audit, Pensions and Standards Committee.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

H&F Council's Emergency Response to Major Incidents in June and September 2017 pdf icon PDF 226 KB

In 2017 there have been two major incidents in and around Hammersmith & Fulham that required the authority to implement its emergency planning procedures - the fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington in June and an explosion on a tube train in Parsons Green tube station in September.

 

This report reviews the H&F response at both strategic and operational levels, identifies action taken to date to improve the Council’s readiness, and makes recommendations for further improvements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Peter Smith (Head of Policy and Strategy) introduced the draft report and noted that in 2017 there were two major incidents in and around Hammersmith & Fulham that required the authority to implement its emergency planning procedures – the fire at Grenfell Tower in June and an explosion on a tube train in Parsons Green in September. The report reviewed the Council’s response to those incidents at both strategic and operational levels and considered the views of local businesses and community organisations that participated in a ‘hackathon’ event convened by the Council to examine the views of partners.

 

The report identified action taken to improve the Council’s readiness and response to major incidents and made recommendations for additional action for further improvements.  The Committee was invited to discuss the report’s findings and consider the draft recommendations. Following the meeting, the Council’s five Policy and Accountability Committees would also be consulted before the report was finalised for Cabinet agreement in February 2018.

 

Communications

 

The Chair asked about the Council’s social media strategy in the face of a major incident. Louise Raisey (Strategic Head of Communications) said the focus for the Communications team was to get consistent messages out to reassure the public. There was a detailed plan in place for that which worked well during the Parsons Green incident.

 

Kim Dero (Chief Executive) added that the Council also recognised the importance of working with the community and partners to build community resilience. The Council was looking at using the community to get its messages out through the use of WhatsApp groups and dedicated websites. The Council was also providing training for community outreach responders so we could give key people in local communities the right information and they could spread it through their networks.

 

Councillor Vivienne Lukey asked if the Hammersmith & Fulham Nextdoor website could be used to communicate with residents. Louise Raisey said Nextdoor could be used to feed in messages but because it was a closed local network it posed some challenges.

 

Councillor Nicholas Botterill commented that it was important to get clear, coherent messaging out as widely as possible – through as many channels as possible. Most people wouldn’t think to go to a council’s website in a time of emergency. He added that recent events had highlighted the need for the Council to have a strong communications department.

 

Councillor PJ Murphy suggested each committee consulted on the report should have sight of any previous discussions so points weren’t repeated.

 

Councillor PJ Murphy asked what contingency was in place if the mobile phone network went down (3.7 in the report).

 

Councillor PJ Murphy said it was good that the website would be regularly updated (3.11) but did it have the necessary reach? What would the Council do to get the message out wider?

 

Councillor PJ Murphy asked how long before H&F communications staff were providing support to RBKC after the Grenfell incident (3.14 of the report).

 

Councillor Murphy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Update on the Fire Safety Plus Programme and Housing Compliance pdf icon PDF 274 KB

This report provides an update on actions taken since the last meeting in September on the Council’s Fire Safety Plus programme and health and safety compliance in residential properties.

Minutes:

David McNulty (Programme Manager) and Graham Coupar (Project Manager) presented the report that provided an update on actions taken since the report to the Committee in September 2017 on the Fire Safety Plus programme and health and safety compliance in residential properties. David McNulty highlighted that all blocks requiring a fire risk assessment had them in place.

 

Councillor Mark Loveday commented that the Fire Enforcement Notice for Robert Gentry House had been outstanding for some time and the expected resolution date was February 2018 (8.1 of the report). David McNulty replied that the notice concerned the replacement of front doors and while they were in the process of being ordered and fitted it would be a lengthy process due to long waiting times for any quantity of fire doors since Grenfell.

 

Councillor PJ Murphy asked for a timeline for resolving this issue. Graham Coupar said ordering the doors could take three to four months then fitting them on site could take time as it was difficult to get access to certain properties.

 

Councillor Mark Loveday felt the Council wasn’t treating this as an urgent issue. He asked for reassurances that the Council was making this a priority. Graham Coupar said work was progressing, officers had met the fire service on the site. All of the ‘quick wins’ had been completed and the longer works were in progress. There was no way to accelerate the delivery and fitting of the doors. Councillor Guy Vincent asked for a timeline of dates to be circulated to members.

ACTION 4: David McNulty

 

The Chair asked if Adult Social Care were engaged on this – working with vulnerable residents to ensure access to their properties for fitting the new doors. David McNulty said there were issues with access. Where the Council had information about vulnerable residents, solutions were put in place.

 

Councillor Nicholas Botterill noted that the portable appliance tests (PAT) (6.1.5 of the report) were not a very efficient way of testing electrical goods – they were only useful if everyone took part and if they were carried out regularly. He also expressed surprise that the Council would be replacing white goods free of charge if found to be faulty. David McNulty said the PATs were part of a package of testing and review where all elements of fire safety would be looked at including electrical appliances, smoke alarms, alterations, doors etc. As far as take up of the offer – officers were doing all they could to encourage take up.

 

Councillor Mark Loveday asked if there was a reason the asbestos register couldn’t be made publicly available to residents (8.2 of the report). David McNulty said it wasn’t currently public but there was no reason it couldn’t be. Councillor Loveday asked if there was a programme for asbestos removals. David McNulty said it was risk based – each case was assessed as it came up.

 

Councillor Mark Loveday asked if the gas safety post-inspection checks had unearthed any further issues with the checking  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Corporate Health and Safety Update - April to October 2017 pdf icon PDF 182 KB

A six-monthly update on corporate Health & Safety was requested by the Committee in September 2017. This report has been brought ahead of the original timetable of February 2018 as part of work to assure members following the Grenfell and Parsons Green major incidents.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Nick Austin (Lead Director for Environmental Services) presented the report which provided an overview of the performance of the organisation regarding compliance with its health and safety duties for the period April 2017 to October 2017.

 

Councillor Mark Loveday asked, in relation to 7.4 of the report, if the Council should be more proactive and going in and inspecting rather than just writing to owners. Nick Austin said the Council was still in an investigatory phase. Richard Buckley added only four landlords hadn’t been in contact. Five have had samples of building materials sent off for testing. One had already reported back that they were safe.

 

Councillor Loveday said the report referred to private buildings with potential cladding issues but what about other fire safety issues in private buildings - what were the Council’s responsibilities? Nick Austin said the fire brigade was responsible for any other issues. Councillor Loveday said the Council shouldn’t be seen to be taking our eyes off our obligations to the private sector.

 

Councillor PJ Murphy asked what an acceptable compliance rate was for fire safety and when we would reach it. Nick Austin said for fire issues our target compliance rate was 100 percent and the Council had put in additional resources to reach this goal within four to five months.

 

Councillor Nicholas Botterill asked if the Council’s facilities management had taken a backwards step in recent years. Nick Austin said, before the point of hand over to Amey (the contractor) there had been a lot of work across the estate – with complete asset registers that were regularly updated and readily accessible. The current position was that that didn’t exist anymore. Contractual performance, reporting, and contract management were all sub-standard at present.

 

Councillor Vivienne Lukey pointed out a mistake in 8.1 of the report – there were four nursery schools in the borough.

 

RESOLVED

The Committee noted the report.

7.

Treasury Mid-Year Review 2017-18 pdf icon PDF 330 KB

This report updates on the delivery of the 2017/18 Treasury Management Strategy approved by Council on 22 February 2017 - and the Annual Treasury Strategy 2017-18 Mid-Year Review.

Minutes:

Peter Worth (interim Director of Treasury and Pensions) and Phil Triggs (newly appointed Director of Treasury and Pensions) presented the report that updated the Committee on the delivery of the 2017-18 Treasury Management Strategy approved by Council on 22 February 2017.

 

Councillor Michael Adam asked why cash balances were increasing. Peter Worth said there was a peak in the middle of the year due to the collection of Council Tax and Business Rates.

 

Councillor Michael Adam, referring to 4.4 of the report, said while there had been some restructuring of the investment profile, it was still not moving to longer-term maturity investments to increase yield. This had been discussed for a while – when would the Council put this in place? Phil Triggs said this was a major priority and would start within the next month or so.

 

Councillor Michael Adam asked if officers were confident all the MiFiD compliance work would be completed by the January deadline. Peter Worth said he was reasonably confident – officers were chasing counter-parties this week. Phil Triggs added he would be making phone calls this week to ensure it was complete.

 

Councillor Nicholas Botterill, referring to Appendix 1 of the report, asked if there had been a change in policy allowing the Council to deposit money in foreign banks. Peter Worth said the current policy permitted overseas domiciled investments. Councillor Botterill asked if officers felt it was wise to have 15 percent of the Council’s holdings with a single foreign bank. Phil Triggs said the investments were made with institutions on an approved counter-party list with very high set criteria. There were many good quality banks overseas, often with greater credit quality than UK banks. Hitesh Jolapara (Strategic Finance Director) said officers would carry out further due diligence and would make changes if there were any concerns raised.

 

RESOLVED

The Committee noted the Annual Treasury Strategy 2017-18 Mid-Year Review.

8.

Risk Management Update pdf icon PDF 240 KB

The report provides an update on risk management within the authority and includes the Corporate Risk Register for consideration.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

David Hughes (Director of Audit, Risk, Fraud and Insurance) presented the report which updated the Committee on risk management within the Council and presented the Corporate Risk Register for consideration.

 

Councillor Mark Loveday asked for more information on Risk 21 – Coroners Office. Nick Austin said the senior coroner hed been suspended pending disciplinary action, leading to a backlog in cases. There had also been general performance issues. To resolve this the Council had appointed a temporary senior coroner and would be appointing four assistant coroners. An action plan was in place to reduce the backlog and improve customer service and officers were meeting regularly to review with the MET Police and Chief Coroner.

 

The Committee asked officers to review Risk 23 – King Street Regeneration Programme following the recent consultation on the new development.

 

ACTION 6: Jo Rowlands/Michael Hainge

RESOLVED

That the Committee noted the report and reviewed the Corporate Risk Register.

9.

Corporate Anti-Fraud Service - Half Year Update Report - 1 April 2017 to 30 September 2017 pdf icon PDF 767 KB

This report provides an account of fraud related activity undertaken by the Corporate Anti-Fraud Service from 1 April 2017 to 30 September 2017.

Minutes:

David Hughes (Director of Audit, Risk, Fraud and Insurance) presented the report that provided an account of fraud related activity undertaken by the Corporate Anti-Fraud Service between 1 April 2017 and 30 September 2017.

 

RESOLVED

The Committee noted the fraud work undertaken during the year to date for the period 1 April 2017 to 30 September 2017.

10.

Internal Audit Quarterly Report for the Period 1 July - 30 September 2017 pdf icon PDF 337 KB

This report summarises internal audit activity during the period 1 July to 30 September 2017.

Minutes:

David Hughes (Director of Audit, Risk, Fraud and Insurance) presented the report that summarised internal audit activity in respect of audit reports issued during the period 1 July to 30 September 2017 and the performance of the Internal Audit service. He noted that there were no outstanding recommendations and no outstanding reports awaiting a management response.

 

Councillor Guy Vincent asked how this had been achieved. David Hughes attributed this quarter’s performance to the Committee’s consistently strong challenge and Kim Dero’s new approach to audit matters with the Senior Leadership Team.

 

RESOLVED

That the Committee noted the report.

11.

Final Audit Report - Adult Social Care Contract Management - Carers Hub 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 663 KB

This report details the findings of an audit of the management of the Carers’ Hub contract with Carers Network.

Minutes:

Mike Boyle (Director for Strategic Commissioning and Enterprise) presented the report and noted that the new Carers’ Hub contract had incorporated all of the report’s recommendations.

 

Councillor PJ Murphy asked what actions had been put in place to ensure this didn’t happen again. Mike Boyle said there were monthly contract monitoring meetings with Carers Network and they also met quarterly with the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care.

 

RESOLVED

That the Committee noted the report.

12.

Annual Governance Statement Action Plan and Outstanding Recommendations for External Audit pdf icon PDF 260 KB

This report summarises progress on implementing recommendations arising from the ‘External Audit Report 2016/17’ and the Annual Governance Statement.

Minutes:

Geoff Drake (Senior Audit Manager) presented the report that summarised progress implementing recommendations arising from the ‘External Audit Report 2016/17’ and the Annual Governance Statement. He noted that three recommendations arising from the External Audit Report 2016/17 had now been reported as implemented.

 

RESOLVED

That the Committee noted the report.

13.

Dates of future meetings

The next meeting will be on 14 March 2018.

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for 14 March 2018.