Agenda and minutes

Special, Corporate Governance & Audit Committee - Monday 27 September 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Democratic Services  Email:

Link: To listen to the live broadcast recording please follow the link which will direct you to the live broadcasting webpage

No. Item


Chairman's Announcements

Any apologies for absence that have been received will be noted at this point.



Apologies had been received from Mr Palmer and Mrs O’Kelly advised that she would be late joining the meeting due to a meeting clash.



Approval of Minutes pdf icon PDF 229 KB

The committee is requested to approve the minutes of its ordinary meeting held on 19 July 2021.



The minutes of the meeting held on 19 July 2021 were agreed as a correct record.


Urgent items

The chairman will announce any urgent items that due to special circumstances are to be dealt with under the Late Items agenda item.


There were no urgent items


Declarations of Interest

These are to be made by members of the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee or other Chichester District Council members present in respect of matters on the agenda for this meeting.



There were no declarations of interest made.


Public Question Time

The procedure for submitting public questions in writing by no later than noon 2 working days before the meetingis available here or from the Democratic Services Officer (whose contact details appear on the front page of this agenda).


There were no public questions.


Fraud Prevention Report 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 29 KB

The committee is requested to consider this report and the corporate approach to fighting fraud and to note that the Council will actively pursue potential frauds identified.


Mr Todd provided members with an overview of his report where he explained that it demonstrates the prevention work undertaken by the team to protect the Council from fraud.


Members of the Committee gave praise for the work undertaken by the team and said the team should be congratulated for their efforts. Clarification was sought regarding the Empty Homes Project and the number of empty properties detailed within the report.


It was asked if officers thought that there could be a number of potential fraud cases where if dealt with could cause the Council reputational damage. It was confirmed by Mr Bennett that members would know that within the policies that support this process, there is flexibility built with in them. They follow a clear process where officers would evaluate the evidential test and the public interest test within that. Exactly where the line falls for each individual case would be different.  


In reference to paragraph 10.2 of the report, it was queried why there was no mention of Housing Benefit figures. It was confirmed that when the government brought in SFIS a single fraud investigation system was introduced, single person discount and council tax benefit was not included within this system. It was solely for housing benefit investigations. The Council kept responsibility for investigating single person discount and council tax, however there is now no legislation for the council to investigate housing benefit fraud, this is done by the DWP. The Council do work closely with the DWP so that should there be an investigation that crosses over one or more of the areas we can assist.




That the Committee considered this report and the corporate approach to fighting fraud to ensure that they fulfil their stewardship role and protect the public purse.

That the Committee notes the Council will actively pursue potential frauds identified through ongoing investigations by the Corporate Investigations Team (CIT).



Corporate Health & Safety and Business Continuity Management Report pdf icon PDF 334 KB

The committee is asked to consider and note the Council’s arrangements in place for monitoring and controlling the risks associated with health and safety and business continuity matters.


Mr Townsend introduced his report and provided members with a detailed overview of his report, where he described a number of activities that had been undertaken to ensure that the Council’s Corporate Health and Safety responsibilities were continued to be managed well as well as adapting to the needs of pandemic. The Councils Business Continuity Management plan had enabled it to run continuously throughout the pandemic and provided an update on its current position.


Discussion was had regarding the concerns of future IT viruses and the protocol to ensure that these do not cause any disruption to the back-up server. Mr Forward explained that this server was not ‘live’, meaning that the team were in control of what was transferred over to the server and when. This would mean that should there be a virus that infiltrated the Council’s main servers, the team would ensure that the virus was removed before any information was transferred to the back-up server. He also explained that the critical factor in these scenarios was to ensure that no virus would infiltrate the Council’s IT systems in the first place and to reassure members he advised that the recent annual survey that had been completed, resulted in the teams mitigations being documented as excellent and the VPN was of the greatest standard.


In turning to the Corporate Health and Safety detail within the report, members asked several questions, of which have been summarised below;


  • In relation to the 6 RIDDOR reportable accidents, more information regarding the Street Operatives who sustained back injuries was requested.
  • With staff members working from home had there been reports of injuries where staff may not have had the right equipment e.g. desk, chair. It was confirmed that only 1 incident had been reported since the start of the pandemic and that there had been a full assessment completed by managers and all staff on their workstations at home, where this allowed for us to highlight any areas where improvements need to be made.



                                                   Cllr T Johnson arrived at the meeting 14:29pm


Before drawing the discussion to a close the Chairman asked for confirmation on the type of business continuity scenarios testing that was being completed, he explained that given the pandemic and the current petrol shortage being documented in the media he wanted reassurance that the scenarios covered a wide range of possible incidents that the Council may need to react to. It was confirmed by Mr Ward that the testing and scenarios/exercises the teams have discused in the past had been very varied and thorough.




That the Committee considered and noted the Council’s arrangements in place for monitoring and controlling the risks associated with health and safety and business continuity matters.



Annual Partnerships Report 2021 pdf icon PDF 802 KB

The committee is requested to note the Annual Partnerships report.


Mrs Bushby introduced her report and advised members that it was very reassuring that partnerships whilst they may have been affected by the pandemic, they had found ways to continue to operate normally.


She explained that the Chichester in Partnership was dissolved as it was felt that the partnership had run its course and that several projects within it could be managed outside of the partnership. The ‘Technology doesn’t byte’ was a good example of this, we still support it, but we don’t lead the project. A new partnership had been created this year, the Local Community Neighbourhood Network which is a health partnership. Inclusive of the CCG and PCN’s, it is a slow burner, as it is taking its time to establish its priorities and opportunities within the community to ensure that it addresses not only the effects of the pandemic and a focus on cancer screening but also the other needs there may be within the community.


There were no questions asked.




That the Annual Partnerships report be noted.

Agrees that the partnerships annual report is an appropriate mechanism for ensuring our strategic partnerships have appropriate governance measures in place and should continue reporting to Corporate Governance and Audit committee on an annual basis.

Agrees that the new risk assessment template for partnerships is an appropriate document and should be completed by lead officers for partnerships over the next year.



Complaints, Freedom of Information Requests and Data Protection Analysis 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 262 KB

Report to follow.

Additional documents:


Mrs Williams-Dorn explained that her report outlined all formal complaints, FOI requests and Data Protection requests that had been received during 2020/21. A total of 103 complaints were received, which was a decrease of 17% overall compared to 2019/20. 84% of the complaints received in 2020/21 were categorised as stage 1 within the council’s formal complaints process. 10.7% were stage 2, 4.9% reached the last stage of the process via the Local Government Ombudsman. Of the total number of complaints received, 15.5% were upheld. 17.5% were partially upheld and 67% were not upheld.


She confirmed that lessons had been learnt and improvements made as a result of upheld or partially upheld complaints with clearer guidance being provided to the customer where required and officer training provided where appropriate. Of the complaints that had been sent to the Ombudsman, none were formally investigated, this compared to an average of 32% being investigated and upheld across similar authorities as outlined within the report.


It was also confirmed that the council received 177 recorded compliments across all services thanking staff for their help and assistance. Turning to Freedom of Information requests she advised that the council had received 716 requests that required an answer of which 91% had been answered within the 20-day deadline. She confirmed that the majority of these had been requested by members of the public, with 32.4% and 7% having been requested by commercial organisations and the media respectively.


She explained that under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), the council had received 13 requests from customers to access their personal information held by the council and in addition to this, 13 Police/authority requests had also been received and responded to.

Members then asked a range of questions of which have been summarised below;


  • Concern raised regarding the amount of time spent by officers answering FOI requests and could this time be accurately quantified. It was explained by Mr Bennett that the vast majority of the requests were dealt with in approximately 30 minutes, however, due to the vast nature and sometimes level and range of detail required for the remainder the time was significantly longer and not something that could be quantified. He also reassured members that where improvements could be made to the councils website in terms of sign-posting users to areas of information or the content being made clearer, this was happening and the speed at which this work is completed by the Customers Services Team and the Web Team was testament to their hard work.
  • A suggestion was made to consider making FOI responses from organisations and the media chargeable.
  • Clarity on what records the council kept in terms of focusing on continuous improvement was sought. It was confirmed that records were kept helping identify trends so that the council can react quickly and ensure that update information is made readily available and accessible to its customers.
  • It was requested and agreed that for future updates it included a list of the top 5 requests  ...  view the full minutes text for item 104.


Exclusion of the Press and Public

There are no restricted items for consideration.


There were no restricted items.


Late items

The committee will consider any late items as follows:

a)          Items added to the agenda papers and made available for public inspection

b)          Items that the chairman has agreed should be taken as a matter of urgency by reason of special circumstances to be reported at the meeting


There were no late items.