Audit and Standards Committee
7 December 2005
IRVINE, 7 December 2005 - At a Meeting of the Audit and Standards Committee of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 p.m.
Tom Barr, Ian Clarkson, Peter McNamara, Margaret Munn, Robert Rae and Richard Wilkinson.
I. Snodgrass, Chief Executive; I. T. Mackay, Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective); A. Herbert, Assistant Chief Executive and I. Gibson, Chief Internal Auditor (Finance); and M. McKeown, Corporate and Democratic Support Officer (Chief Executive's).
Also In Attendance
R. Brown and M. Mazzucco, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
Councillor Barr in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Drew Duncan, Jean Highgate.
The Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 5 October 2005, copies of which had previously been circulated, were confirmed.
2. Annual Audit 2004/05 - Auditors' Report to Members
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Finance) on the outcome of the 2004/05 audit conducted by the Council's external auditors.
The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 requires that the Council's external auditors report to Members at the conclusion of their audit of accounts on any significant matters which have arisen during the course of the audit.
The report by the Council's external auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, on the conduct of the 2004/05 audit was attached to the report. The auditors' unqualified opinion was that the financial statements presented in the 2004/05 annual accounts presented fairly the financial position of the Council as at 31 March 2005, and its income and expenditure and cash flows for the year then ended. The report nevertheless identified a number of areas requiring attention, and an action plan has been drawn up to address these areas. The 2004/05 Annual Accounts, complete with audit certificate, will be presented to the Council on 13 December 2005.
3. Audit Approach 2005/06
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Finance) on the external auditors' proposed approach to the 2005/06 audit.
Each year, the Council's external auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, inform Members and Officers of how they intend to discharge their responsibilities as external auditors during the year, and their fee for carrying out this work. The outline audit approach in respect of 2005/06 was appended to the report. As well as auditing the Council's annual accounts for the year to 31 March 2006, the auditors will, as part of their audit role, examine aspects of the Council's corporate governance, financial management, and performance management arrangements.
4. Internal Audit Progress Report 2005/06
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Finance) on the outcome of internal audit work carried out during the current financial year.
The internal audit section aims to ensure that the Council maintains sound corporate governance and internal controls, by independently examining and evaluating the operation of Council systems and, where appropriate, identifying to managers, opportunities for improving the internal control environment.
The Internal Audit Plan for 2005/06 was approved by the Committee on 18 May 2005 and provided for a range of audit work involving reviews of system controls, reviews of controls within operational units, regularity audits, and forensic auditing.
The report summarised the internal audit work carried out to date in 2005/06, which included follow up audits in respect of internal audit recommendations arising in 2003/04 and 2004/05. Where appropriate, action plans have been agreed with Services to address any areas requiring attention.
5. Ethical Standards in Public Life Etc (Scotland) Act 2000: Councillors Code of Conduct: Guidance on Conduct in Chamber and Committee
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective) on the publication of guidance by the Standards Commission for Scotland on the Conduct of Councillors in Chamber and Committee.
On 7 June 2005, the Council considered a report on the publication by the Standards Commission for Scotland, of draft guidance relating to the Conduct of Councillors in the Chamber. Included in the draft guidance was a proposal that minor breaches of behaviour should be dealt with at an informal meeting of political group leaders. In its response to the Commission, the Council proposed that such minor breaches should be dealt with by each political group individually, rather than a cross party group of Members. The Commission has now published the final version of its guidance which incorporates the original proposal relating to handling minor breaches of behaviour.
The guidance has a statutory basis and must be considered by Councillors when considering how to conduct themselves in the public forum of a Council or Committee meeting.
The Committee agreed that the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective) issue the Guidance to all Members.
The meeting ended at 3.15 p.m.