To receive the Corporate Risk Management report.
Members considered a report on Corporate Risk Management.
During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:
· The Assistant Director Governance outlined the Committee’s responsibilities around risk management as detailed in the Constitution. As it was the start of the municipal year, it was thought timely for Members to consider what training needs the Committee might have around risk management.
· Councillor King felt that more training on risk management would be helpful for Members particularly as times were now more complicated due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
· Councillor Gee questioned the cost of training and was informed that the training was usually provided internally.
· The Corporate Risk Register had been updated since it was last presented to the Committee in June. There had been presentational changes. Also each risk was described more clearly, timelines had been added to mitigating actions and each risk was now linked to one of the seven Council priorities.
· Four new risks had been added covering Telephony (risk no.15), IT Infrastructure (risk no. 16), Public Sector Equality Duty (risk no. 17), and Pandemic response (risk no. 18). No risks had come off the register but it was likely that over time, more risks would be added and some removed.
· Councillor Burgess thanked officers for all the work that had gone in to the refreshed Corporate Risk Register. She went on to question why the pandemic risk had only been given a medium rating, and referred to the possibility of a second wave of Covid 19. The Assistant Director Governance referred to the mitigations in place including the Local Outbreak Plan. The Council’s emergency response had been well tested.
· Councillor Burgess stated that it was good that carbon reduction targets had been included relating to the climate emergency. However, Full Council had now considered the Climate Emergency Action Plan and the plan still needed work. She questioned whether the risk should therefore have a higher rating. The Assistant Director Governance responded that the Risk Register had been published prior to the Plan’s review by Council but feedback from the Council meeting would be taken into consideration.
· Councillor Sargeant felt that the climate emergency risk should be rated higher.
· Councillor Gee questioned whether the pandemic risk should be positioned elsewhere on the matrix. The Assistant Director Governance responded that there was an element of subjectivity in the assessment of the risks. The impact of the particular risk was not being underestimated. There was a lot of work being undertaken by Overview and Scrutiny regarding the Council’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic and this learning would be built in.
· In response to a question from Councillor Gee, the Assistant Director Governance indicated that each risk tended to be considered in isolation but that making linkages between them could strengthen the overall register.
· Councillor Ross stated that he was pleased to see the inclusion of the Local Plan within the Corporate Risk Register. Councillor Burgess felt that whilst the rating for this risk was now correct the description could be clarified further.
· Councillor Shepherd-DuBey expressed concern around governance during the pandemic. She commented that governance was still not back to normal. The Council had not established a Covid scrutiny committee in the same way as some other councils had, and the public were not currently able to speak at Planning Committee meetings. The Assistant Director Governance responded that the Council had been quick to implement virtual council meetings. Whilst the March Council meeting had been postponed, the business of that meeting had now been transacted. Councillor Ross referred to meetings between the Group Leaders during this period. Councillor Burgess indicated that these had been outside of the democratic process and had been more for briefing purposes.
· Councillor Shepherd-Dubey questioned why telephony was a separate risk and not included within the IT infrastructure risk, and was informed that it was to ensure that it was not subsumed within the IT infrastructure risk. There were specific issues around the some of the telephony equipment at Shute End.
· Councillor Shepherd-Dubey asked who the Equalities Champions were. The Assistant Director Governance would provide a list.
· With regards to the Risk Management Policy and Guidance, Ernst & Young had identified that it had been some time since they had been reviewed, although the Assistant Director Governance noted that the last review by the Audit Committee was less than two years ago in September 2018. Changes related to the new Community Strategy and Corporate Delivery Plan, a new paragraph on the impact of Covid-19, clarification on the role of Council risk facilitator, and emphasising links to the Local Code of Corporate Governance and the Annual Governance Statement.
· Councillor Ross asked who the policy and guidance was aimed at and suggested that there could be more around how the Executive Members challenged the relevant Directors on individual risks. The Assistant Director Governance agreed that the dialogue and challenge between the Executive Members and Directors needed to work well for effective scrutiny of the individual risks.
1) the risks and mitigating actions of the Council’s corporate risks as detailed in the attached CRR (Appendix A), be noted;
2) the updated Enterprise Risk Management policy and guidance (Appendix B) be approved and its onward submission to the Executive agreed;
3) what further training the Committee requires to discharge its responsibilities with regard to Risk Management, be considered.