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Disclosure of Interests
In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.
There were no disclosures of interest made at the meeting.
Urgent Business (if any)
To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.
There were no items of urgent business.
For Members to have a further opportunity to receive, consider and comment on the Croydon Finance Review – Phase 1 report and action plan.
The Committee considered the Phase 1 report from the Croydon Finance Review, set out on pages 5 to 124 of the agenda, along with an accompanying presentation. It was highlighted by the Chair that the report had originally been scheduled for review by the Committee at its meeting on 7 October 2020, but given its importance it had been decided to arrange a further meeting of the General Purposes and Audit Committee to allow time for a more in-depth conversation on the content.
Financial Consultant, Ian O’Donnell, who had prepared the Croydon Finance Review – Phase 1 report, was in attendance at the meeting to introduce the report and answer any questions from the Committee on the information provided. To guide the discussion of the Committee it was agreed that the report would be broken down into sections, starting with the introduction and followed by discussions focussing on long to medium term financial management, annual budgeting and the monitoring of financial performance.
During the introduction to the report the following was noted:-
• The Croydon Financial Review had been commissioned in May 2020 following recognition that the Council was facing financial challenges that would be difficult to resolve under existing arrangements and practices. The Council had brought in Ian O’Donnell as a Financial Consultant to review how the Council managed its finances, with a Finance Review Panel (FRP) set up to oversee the process and address some of the more immediate concerns.
• The financial management activity in Croydon had been reviewed against best practice set out in the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) Financial Management Code and other statutory guidance. It was highlighted that local authorities were under a duty to comply with the CIPFA code.
• Due to the scale of work required, the initial focus had been on those areas considered to be in the most pressing need of review. These were identified as long to medium term financial management, annual budgeting and the monitoring of financial performance.
• A separate piece of work to review the group company structures of the Council had also commissioned.
• The Phase 1 report had been considered at a meeting of FRP in September and had originally been scheduled for consideration at the meeting of the Committee on 7 October, where it had been decided to defer any discussion until this meeting to allow the opportunity for more detailed questioning.
Following the introduction, the Committee was provided with its first opportunity to ask questions on the content of the report. The first question related to the findings of the Governance Review published in March 2020 and whether these had been factored into the Finance Review process. It was advised that the Governance Review had not been included at this stage, as the Finance Review had focussed on comparing the Council’s current practices to best practice as set out in the CIPFA code. There may be an opportunity at a later stage to look at the recommendations of ... view the full minutes text for item 39/20
Exclusion of Public and Press
The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:
“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”
This motion was not required.