Last Thursday evening saw a meeting of the audit and regulatory committee amongst the items considered were the annual governance report from the audit commission, along with reports on international financial reporting standards, freedom of information, annual internal audit report and risk management.
As I have done previously I expressed my concerns to the audit commission on the problems of accurate monitoring of progress in some areas of the council’s work that is monitored by the audit commission due to their continual changing of the audit commission’s standards. However this year I was assured that the standards at least for next year, should remain the same as was used this year, hopefully giving us the chance to monitor progress or otherwise.
On data protection it was good to hear that hear that the council had had no data protection issues or loses of any sort, but on freedom of information it was intriguing to hear that the 178 freedom of information requests so far received this year, along with those received previously, now means that work on the freedom of information act is meaning that around 1 day a week is been spent by a member of staff in the democratic services section dealing with these enquiries, in addition to whatever time is taken up by the various services on the council in responding to these enquiries.
A late report in terms that a further heavily amended version was emailed round to members of the committee the night before saw me along with other members of the committee objecting to even considering the report on the council’s joint delegation scheme, because whilst it may be essentially the same as the existing scheme which essentially gives officers the permission to carry out various duties on behalf of the council, we can’t be considering reports on good management and that we have considered all issues on a report when you’ve only received it the night before – especially as the report is over 30 pages long.
In the end a comprise was achieved and the report was deferred to an extra meeting of the committee to take place before the full council meeting.