Scottish Borders Council

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chambers. Council Headquarters, Newtown St Boswells

Contact: Eileen Graham Tele No: 01835 826585  E-mail:  eegraham@scotborders.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

AUDIT & SCRUTINY BUSINESS

1.

Minute. pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Minute of Meeting of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee held on 25 June 2019 to be approved and signed by the Chairman.  (Copy attached).

Minutes:

There had been circulated copies of the Minute of the Meeting held on 26 June 2019.

 

DECISION

APPROVED for signature by the Chairman.

 

With reference to paragraph 6(d) of the Minute of 25 June 2019, the Chief Executive and the Service Director HR and Communications were in attendance to respond to Members on the request for a private report on non-disclosure agreements to be presented to a future Committee.  The Chief Executive advised non-disclosure agreements would be very difficult to scrutinise as by their very nature they could not be discussed.  It may be possible to bring a general update on the numbers of non-disclosure agreements, how they were processed and an outline of the basic information.  Non-disclosures were used rarely, with only 5 put in place since 2014/15.  There was an agreed process with the Council’s external auditors for the use of non-disclosures, which could be scrutinised by the external auditors if required.  The Chief Executive further advised that the Council had made greater use of compromise agreements a number of years previously as protection for the Council against equal pay claims.  No additional money was paid as part of these agreements, only that to which an individual was entitled.  The Service Director HR & Communications advised Members that non-disclosures were not used to cover up bad behaviour as this was dealt with by a different procedure and was not why they were used.  In response to Members’ questions on how the public would find out about non-disclosure agreements, the Chief Executive explained that as non-disclosure agreements were exceptional, no information about them was on the Council website.  If there were any concerns about their use, this would be raised by the external auditors.  However, that information would be made available on the Council website to allay any fears.  Members were happy with the explanation from the Chief Executive and agreed not to pursue the matter as a subject for scrutiny.  This agreement was proposed by Councillor Scott and seconded by Councillor Chapman, and was unanimously accepted.

 

DECISION

AGREED not to pursue the matter of non-disclosure agreements as a subject for the Audit & Scrutiny Committee work programme.

 

 

 

 

 

SCRUTINY BUSINESS

2.

Scrutiny Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Consider report by the Chief Executive.  (Copy attached).

Minutes:

2.1       With reference to paragraph 6 of the Minute of 25 June 2019, there had been circulated copies of a report by the Chief Executive that presented potential subjects for Scrutiny review, as part of the future Scrutiny work programme 2019/20, to be approved by Council.  The Clerk to the Council, Ms Wilkinson explained that as detailed in the Scheme of Administration, the Committee was required to develop an annual programme of work for approval by Council.  At it’s meeting on 25 June 2019, the Committee agreed to request that officers liaise with communities/the public to advertise Scrutiny work and any suggested topics for Scrutiny review be submitted, with Elected Members and Community Councils subsequently contacted.  Ms Wilkinson advised that although two subjects had been submitted it was suggested that neither of these be taken forward for review as they did not fall within the remit of the Committee. 

 

2.2       The Council’s Corporate Management Team (CMT) had also suggested a further three subjects and the Committee agreed to take these forward: Income Management Policy; Common Ridings and Festivals in-kind support; and the Responsible Dog Ownership Policy.  Mr Robertson advised that as the Income Management Policy had been agreed in 2012 it was due to be reviewed; as part of this, it would also be helpful to see how charges benchmarked against other areas of Scotland.  It was considered appropriate for Members to review the application of the policy as the charges and fees involved many Council services income.  With regard to the in-kind support for Common Ridings and Festivals, this review was to be welcomed.  The grant funding for such events was being taken forward as part of the wider consultation on the Community Fund.  Members also welcomed the opportunity to review the Responsible Dog Ownership Policy.  Ms Wilkinson further advised that the current Scrutiny work programme contained two outstanding review subjects: Community Access to Schools (scoping paper) and Amey – Trunk Roads Management. 

 

2.3       Members then considered a number of other subjects for review, details of which were circulated at the meeting: 

 

Grass cutting regime (submitted by Bowden Village Committee) – information would be sought from the Neighbourhood Services team on whether this was already subject to review

The role of the new Police Community Action Team (submitted by Bowden Village Committee and similar subject submitted by Councillor H Scott) – a preliminary report would be brought to Audit & Scrutiny on the current arrangements

The Council’s response to speeding concerns (from Bowden Village Committee) – communication of the process for communities could be made through Area Partnerships in the first instance with feedback considered by Audit & Scrutiny if further review was required

Pupil Equity Funding (submitted by Councillor Bell) and Child Poverty Indicators (submitted by Councillor H. Anderson) – officers advised that establishing a direct correlation between PEF and attainment may be difficult but an evaluation of the actions the Council was taking on Child Poverty could be reported to Audit & Scrutiny which would include PEF, free school meals,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

 

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