Venue: Lecture Theatre - Fire Service Headquarters, Sadler Road, Winsford, Cheshire CW7 2FQ. View directions
Contact: Emilie Salkeld Governance Officer
Recording of Meeting
Members are reminded that this meeting will be audio-recorded.
Members were reminded that the meeting would be audio-recorded.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors David Brown and Brian Gallagher.
Membership of Committee
Members are asked to note the membership of the Governance and Constitution Committee for 2022-23, as agreed by the Fire Authority on 22nd June 2022.
Members: Rob Polhill (Chair)
Nick Mannion (Deputy Chair)
Substitutes: Michael Beanland
Rob Moreton Peter Wheeler
Independent (non-elected) member: Derek Barnett
Members noted the membership of the Governance and Constitution Committee for 2022-23, as agreed by the Fire Authority on 22nd June 2022.
Declarations of Members' Interests
Members are reminded to disclose any interests that are relevant to any item on the Agenda.
There were no declarations of Members’ interests.
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Governance and Constitution Committee held on Wednesday 30th March 2022.
That the minutes of the Governance and Constitution Committee held on Wednesday 30th March 2022 be confirmed as a correct record.
The Director of Governance and Commissioning introduced the report which asked Members to extend the benefit of the existing dispensations to the new Members of the Fire Authority. This would allow them to take part in debates and votes on the approval of the Members’ Allowances Scheme (and any changes and/or additions to it).
He explained that he accepted that the guidance issued by the Local Government Association, which accompanied the Model Councillor Code of Conduct, made the existing dispensation relating to the Council Tax precept redundant.
The Director informed the Committee that Councillors Nathan Pardoe and Peter Walker had requested that the dispensation be extended so they could benefit from it.
 the dispensation granted to Fire Authority Members on 29th January 2020 be extended to benefit Councillors Nathan Pardoe and Peter Walker, thereby allowing them to take part in debates and votes on the approval of the Members’ Allowances Scheme (and any changes and/or additions to it).
The Director of Governance and Commissioning introduced the report which provided information about whistleblowing for 2021-22 and asked Members to review the Policy and Procedure.
He informed Members that the Authority had not been contacted by Safecall during 2021-22. He suggested to Members that this was likely to be a result of staff being comfortable raising their concerns through existing informal channels. To continue raising awareness of the Safecall procedure, the Director of Governance and Commissioning assured Members that a review of its visibility would be conducted.
A Member queried the review date on the Whistleblowing Procedure attached as Appendix 1 to the report. The Director advised that the review date on the document referred to a review conducted by officers.
Members suggested that a review on the visibility of Safecall be conducted by the newly appointed Health and Safety Manager to ensure its accessibility for staff.
 the Whistleblowing Annual Report 2021-22 be noted.
The Director of Governance and Commissioning introduced the report which provided information regarding compliments and complaints received about the Service during the period 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2022.
He provided an overview of the figures for the past five reporting periods which were presented within a table in the report. He explained that although the figures remained similar to the previous year, there was a significant decrease in the number of compliments. Officers believed this was due to staff being unaware of the reporting process and further communications would be provided to raise awareness.
Members queried the complaints which had not met the reporting timescale. The Director of Governance and Commissioning advised he would investigate further and report back to Members.
 the information regarding compliments and complaints made during the period 1st April 2021 and 31st March 2022 be noted.
The Director of Governance and Commissioning introduced the report which provided information about Member attendance for the last municipal year. Appendix 1 to the report summarised Member attendance at meetings of the Fire Authority and its three main committees: Estates and Property Committee, Governance and Constitution Committee and Performance and Overview Committee. Appendix 2 to the report contained details of the planning days and additional meetings attended, as well as conferences and events attended.
The Director explained that the appendices for the next reporting period would be amended so that Member attendance at formal meetings and Member Planning Days were better represented.
Members discussed the figures and noted that despite some impact from the Covid Pandemic, that meetings were generally well attended. Members agreed that no action was necessary.
 the summary of Member attendance for 2021-22 be noted.
The Treasurer introduced the report which sought to: secure Member appointments to the Audit Committee; determine the quorum of the Audit Committee; and obtain agreement about the arrangements for and recruitment of the independent audit member. He referred to the updated Position Statement: Audit Committees in Local Authorities and Police 2022 published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA) attached as Appendix 1 to the report. This provided guidance on the establishment of Audit Committees and influenced the proposals/suggestions contained within the report.
Appointments to the Audit Committee
The Treasurer advised that in light of the guidance provided by CIPFA, four Members were required for the Audit Committee. It was recommended that the appointments for the Audit Committee be politically proportionate: 2 Labour, 1 Conservative; and 1 Independent, with the Chair being a Labour Member.
Members appointed Councillors Nick Mannion, Brian Gallagher, Rachel Bailey and James Nicholas to the Audit Committee. Cllr Nick Mannion was appointed as Chair. Members agreed that due to the level of training associated, it was not appropriate to appoint substitutes to the committee.
Members decided that attendance by 3 of the 4 elected Members would be fulfil the requirement to be quorate; the Independent Audit Member would not be counted as part of quorum initially.
Recruitment of Independent Audit Member
Members considered the requirements and eligibility criteria contained within the bullet points of paragraphs 13 and 14 within the report. It was agreed that the requirements were suitable and met the expectations of the Position Statement.
Remuneration of the Independent Audit Member
The Director of Governance and Commissioning explained that the Independent Audit Member would be required to meet a level of experience and knowledge as well as attend Audit Committee meetings and associated training. Therefore, remuneration commensurate with that of the independent (non-elected) member role was proposed, in order to make the role attractive to applicants. Members agreed with the proposal.
Term of the Independent Audit Member
A Member queried whether a total of 6 years’ service for an Independent Audit Member was adequate. The Director of Governance and Commissioning advised that the Position Statement recommended a maximum service of 6 years as this allowed enough time for the Independent Audit Member to familiarised themselves with the organisation yet retain a level of independence.
Advert for the Independent Audit Member
Members recalled agreeing to an open advert for the role at their last meeting of the committee. However, officers believed a more targeted approach might also be beneficial alongside the open advert. Members agreed that officers should notify the monitoring officers, of the various local public bodies that have audit committees with independent audit members, so that they could bring the advert to the attention of existing audit members.
The Director of Governance and Commissioning advised the interview panel for the Independent Audit Member would consist of two officers and ideally two members from the Audit Committee. Members agreed, subject to availability, that Councillors Nick Mannion and Rachel ... view the full minutes text for item 6.