The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented a report providing an update on the Action Plan that accompanied the Annual Governance Statement (AGS) included in the Draft Statement of Accounts 2021-22 against the significant issues identified and how they were being addressed in 2022-23. The Committee had considered the draft statement back in July and it provided an overall assessment of the corporate governance arrangements which were in place within Bridgend. Progress against any actions was monitored as in the action plan at appendix B.
Members were asked to consider the action plan and the progress that had been made as at the end of September.
A Member was concerned about the accessibility and readability of the report. This was a public facing document with the primary audience of the report being external and was a long way from where it ought to be. When producing public documents, readability checkers should be used. A lot of work was required around communication and this was a good starting point. It was a PDF without any links and the documents had to be found via a google search. The documents needed to be truly accessible to residents, easily obtainable and embracing the digital age and the digital way of presenting documents, including informatics. The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change replied that some issues were technical and tied up in legislation but it should still be accessible and they would take these comments away and implement them in the next statement.
A Member thanked the officers for a comprehensive document. He referred to page 57 and the work of Audit Wales and the External Auditor and the reports but no information on what was being done about them. There was no information on the critical, high priority, overdue issues or anything to say what they should be looking at. Page 61 included the work of Internal Audit and recommendations being accepted at various stages but this was vague. It would be more helpful if more information was available regarding the current position. The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change agreed that hyperlinks to a tracker within the document would be useful.
A Member was concerned that there was very little mention of Carbon Neutral 2030. He expected that to be first and foremost and key to the document itself and how they would achieve the carbon neutral goal. He hoped that the next report could contain a substantial section around green commitments. The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change explained that this had been raised in July and they had agreed to include it in the next report.
A Member identified an error on the bottom line of the table on page 55 of the report. The total amount claimed was £16,510 not £16,50.
The Chairperson referred to hyperlinks in electronic documents and made the point that not all residents had access to computers and there had to be a way for them to access these documents. With regard to progress updates, there was a lot of narrative without smart objectives such as accountability and timescales and this needed to be addressed. Member training should be available for independent members of both GAC and Standards Committee. A training analysis should be undertaken for the independent members to see if there was a requirement for additional training. He also asked when hybrid meetings would be in place for GAC. The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change replied that the comment regarding smart objectives was in relation to the tracker and they could look at this when reporting back in future. With regard to member development, lay Members of this committee were invited to the member development sessions that took place in relation to GAC however, they were not circulated beyond that. She agreed to take it back and to make sure that all members of the committee had access to appropriate training. The Democratic Services Officer explained that there were issues with the microphone system in the Chamber, but these had recently been resolved and they were looking at holding hybrid meetings as of the following week. He added that the next GAC meeting could be held hybrid in the Chamber.
RESOLVED: GAC noted the Annual Governance Statement 2022-23 Action Plan and progress on the actions to 30 September 2022 and asked that officers ensure the format of the document can be read and understood by more people.