Audit and Standards Committee
11 February 2004
IRVINE, 11 February 2004 - At a meeting of the Audit and Standards Committee of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 p.m.
Gordon Clarkson, Tom Barr, Ian Clarkson, Drew Duncan, Jean Highgate, Peter McNamara and Margaret Munn.
B Devine, Chief Executive; I. T. Mackay, Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective); A. Herbert, Assistant Chief Executive, I. Gibson, Principal Officer (Internal Audit) and D. Nibloe, Chief Accountant (Expenditure) (Finance); B. Gardner, Head of Educational Resources (Educational Services); and A. Osborne and M. McKeown, Corporate and Democratic Support Officers (Chief Executive's).
Also In Attendance
G. Jack and R. Brown, Price WaterhouseCoopers.
Councillor G. Clarkson in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
The Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 4 November 2003, copies of which had previously been circulated, were confirmed.
2. Role and Function of Audit Committees
Mr G. Jack and Mr R. Brown from PricewaterhouseCoopers presented the Committee with an overview of the role and function of Audit Committees operating within a local authority setting.
Information was presented on: the context in which Audit Committees operate; the benefits that such Committees bring to the bodies in which they operate; recommended terms of reference and composition of Audit Committees; the duties of Audit Committees and individual members in relation to monitoring financial controls and in overseeing the work of internal and external audit; and the impact of the Code of Conduct introduced by the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc (Scotland) Act 2000.
The Committee (a) thanked Mr Jack and Mr Brown for their presentation; and (b) noted that the External Audit Strategy will be presented to the next meeting of the Committee.
3. Scottish Maritime Museum Trust: Monitoring Report
Councillor McNamara declared an interest in the following item of business.
Submitted monitoring report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on the utilisation of the annual grant awarded by the Council to the Scottish Maritime Museum Trust.
The Scottish Maritime Museum Trust exists to care for and provide access to maritime collections; to interest the people of Scotland in maritime history and to offer an educational resource; to promote Irvine as a visitor destination and to work in partnership with relevant tourist organisations; and to promote events and activities which will attract visitors of all ages and social backgrounds to the Museum.
The Trust receives a grant from Educational Services amounting to £86,000 per annum, with additional funding being provided by the Scottish Executive, some charitable Trusts and from fund raising activities. At its meeting held in November 2003, the Audit and Standards Committee agreed that a monitoring report on the use of the annual grant awarded to the Trust by the Council should be submitted to the next meeting.
The Head of Resources (Educational Services) undertook a monitoring visit to the Museum on 2 February 2004 and met with the Museum's Director and Finance Officer. A number of areas were reviewed including the audited accounts for the previous financial year, the utilisation of Museum facilities, the programme of activities and events undertaken by the Museum, efforts to curtail falling visitor numbers, the Museum's planned strategic direction and funding projections for the year ahead, recruitment and retention of staff, and marketing and promotion of the facility.
Overall the Monitoring Officer's report concluded that the Council received an appropriate return for its investment in the Museum. The report did however note that the Museum's long term future is in doubt due mainly to a lack of funding. The Scottish Executive has committed funding to the Trust for 2004/05 which will allow final decisions to be taken on the Museum's future. In the circumstances, funding to the Trust from the Council may be released on a phased basis until such time as the Museum's long term future is resolved.
The meeting ended at 3.30 p.m.