Cllr Jim Crabtree asked if Cllr Ron Abbey had a question.
Cllr Simon Mountney said it was unfair to ask [Colin Hughes]. He said the question should be put to the Director of Law, Human Resources and Asset Management [Bill Norman] at the earliest opportunity.
Cllr Ron Abbey said the wanted his question minuted. He referred to item 4 section 4.3 (b)(i) and the audit undertaken of the Department of Adult Social Services Day to Day Procurement System. He said that the issues raised in the audit had not been addressed by the Department of Adult Social Services, but following the reorganisation responsibility now rested with the Department of Law, Human Resources and Asset Management. He wanted to know the timescale and when the committee would see it, even as an interim announcement between meetings sent to the Chair, Deputy Chair, spokespersons and the rest of the committee.
Colin Hughes said that he was sure they would their best to comply, but he was not familiar with it.
Cllr Ron Abbey said the Department for Adult Social Services actions had not been actioned and responsibility had been given to the Department of Law, Human Resources and Asset Management to resolve it following the reorganisation. He wanted timescales as to when it would be delivered and reported on in the interim period between meetings. It was important that recommendations were made into actions as speedily as possible rather than not actioned. Cllr Abbey said this issue went back months and months and months. He wanted them to be a bit more prompt and he said the critical report showed we’re “not good at dealing with anything as an organisation”.
Cllr Jim Crabtree said they would find someone.
Cllr Abbey said he had other questions on actions and timescales.
Cllr Simon Mountney said he was happy to talk, but the decision over not having a legal adviser because he had a meeting tomorrow he thought “a disgrace”. He repeated that he thought it was a disgrace.
Cllr Jim Crabtree said it was his decision, that Sarjit had asked and that had been his response.
Cllr Simon Mountney said he was delighted that Colin was here, but that Colin didn’t know about the items on the agenda. He wasn’t going to ask Colin to go away but he felt it was a waste of their time.
Cllr James Keeley said he was happy to move forward.
Cllr Ron Abbey said he wasn’t being disrespectful, but that [Cllr Crabtree] should have asked the committee who would’ve said no. He felt that the Department for Adult Social Service had kicked it into the long grass with no answer. He said was important for good governance and for advising Cabinet. He was mindful that there would be the holidays soon. They would soon be dealing with the Budget, after that would be the local elections, then things would be delayed to the Mayor Making. He was sorry to labour the point, but it was symptomatic of the way things were happening.
Cllr Jim Crabtree said would be appropriate for Bill Norman to write to members of the committee.
Cllr Ron Abbey suggested this was done by “pony express” not “snail mail”.
Cllr Abbey said he had to be as blunt as this as time after time, actions had not been actioned. He had suspicions it was deliberate. He said the corporate governance recommendations had not been actioned, damage done and that they should have people sitting at this committee as it was a very important meeting in going forward. Cllr Abbey said they can’t do corporate governance without the relevant officers present and it was symptomatic of the problems.
Cllr Jim Crabtree said he apologised on Surjit’s behalf, Surjit had a meeting tomorrow and work to do and had asked Cllr Crabtree if he was needed.
Cllr Ron Abbey said they had more important and pressing matters and nothing was more important than good…
Cllr Jim Crabtree said Colin Hughes was in the building.
Cllr Ron Abbey said senior people were not here and they were “paying lip service” to “addressing issues”.
Cllr James Keeley said he agreed. It was a “statutory committee” and it was outrageous they had no legal adviser.
Cllr Jim Crabtree said he could adjourn the committee until one was found.
Cllr Alan Brighouse said he shared the concerns.
Cllr Jim Crabtree said Surjit had asked if he was really needed as tomorrow he had a tribunal.
Cllr Ron Abbey said he appreciated officers could be unable to attend, but a replacement officer should be a matter of course. He appreciated David Taylor-Smith was here on behalf of the Department of Finance, but there was no-one from the Department of Law, Human Resources and Asset Management.
The committee considered the Internal Audit update. A council officer said it covered from the beginning of September to October and that he wanted to bring to the committee’s attention several items. At 1.5 the format and content of Internal Audit reports was under review by a working party. This included the Chief Internal Auditor, Deputy Chief Internal Auditor, Chair of the Audit & Risk Management Committee and Deputy Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee. 4.6 detailed several high-profile items, there was no specific recommendation for action but he wanted to highlight these. 4.3(b)(i) dealt with the issue of the failure to implement agreed recommendations, it needed further action to encourage officers to urgently implement the recommendations.
The officer said that 4.2.1 dealt with Internal Audit staffing as the “current staffing was in peril” due to maternity leave, sickness leave which had been exacerbated by two officers unavailable as they were seconded full-time to deal with the Anna Klonowski recommendations. A member of staff was also going on jury service. Group auditors had been seconded to the corporate governance team full-time from Monday. They had been authorised to engage appropriate staff through the corporate agency contract. Staff would be selected next week.
Cllr Ron Abbey said he had a number of questions and thanked officers for the report. He said that staffing issues were covered in item 5 but caused short-term difficulties. Referring to 4.3 (b)(i) he said it could slip off the side and never be actioned. As it was high risk and high priority, he said that the officer dealing with it was not sitting here was “ridiculous” and “scandalous”.