The Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee started the meeting with a one minute silence for two councillors who had recently died.
There were no declarations of interest and the minutes of the meeting held on 19th September were quickly agreed.
The first item was the report on the action plan in response to the District Auditor’s report into the Highway and Engineering Services Contract. Colin Hughes informed the Committee that it had been presented to Cabinet on the 18th October.
Councillor Foulkes asked for assurance that Wirral Council was in communication and there was a dialogue with the people who had blown the whistle on the contract?
Colin Hughes replies that he had not been involved personally but could make enquiries. David Armstrong said that when he had been Acting Chief Executive there had been a continuing exchange between himself and the whistle-blower.
Cllr Brighouse referred to Recommendation 14, he wanted them to spend more time looking at implementation which in the past he thought they hadn’t done as well at.
Cllr Abbey thought the timescale of January for Recommendation 20 (the review of Internal Audit) was not much time to get councillors involved.
Mark Niblock, Deputy Chief Internal Auditor said there was currently a review into the effectiveness of Internal Audit and the actions taken to address issues. Following the review a report would be brought back to the Audit and Risk Management Committee.
Cllr Abbey referred again to recommendation 20.
Peter Timmins said in order for councillors to be informed, there was preliminary work that needed to be done. He told them that they were currently sharing a Chief Internal Auditor with Liverpool City Council, who was working with their deputy Chief Internal Auditor Mark Niblock. Mr. Timmins said that they didn’t want to get sidetracked with detailed discussions, which were quite technical, but next month they would produce proposals and anything councillors raised would be answered.
Cllr Sullivan said that it worried him when he said it was too technical for the councillors, he said it was important that the councillors scrutinise before decisions were made. He said he had concerns that the scrutiny committees get reports on serious stuff, but all the decisions had been made and was concerned by being told it’s a bit too technical for councillors.
Peter Timmins responded that they would be bringing recommendations to the Audit and Risk Management Committee, he wanted to translate it out of “audit speak” and their intention was to engage fully and not to hide.