Parish Council 29 May 2024

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF CHOPPINGTON PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON WEDNESDAY 29 MAY 2024 AT STAKEFORD AND BOMARSUND SPORT AND SOCIAL WELFARE CENTRE

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:

 

Cllr H Allsopp

Cllr J Foster

Cllr A Iley

Cllr J Rowell

Cllr P S Vaughan

Cllr L Watson

 

IN ATTENDANCE:

 

Ms A Brindley Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer,  Mr D Iley Finance Officer and one member or the public

 

C024/24         1.         APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE.

 

Apologies of absence were received from Cllr A Hart (work commitment), G Huntley (prior commitment) and Cllr K Burn (family commitment).  Members accepted apologies for absence

 

C025/24         2.         DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY AND OTHER DISCLOSABLE INTERESTS.

none

C026/24         3.         PUBLIC QUESTIONS.

Members were in possession of a letter from a resident who had been invited to attend the meeting to address the Council.  The resident was concerned that grass was being cut too frequently and that it in consideration of wild life and climate change it should be left to grow wild. Members were able to address questions to the resident and the Chairman thanked him for his attendance.  Members agreed the issues were important ones that are considered regularly by the Council as part of the partnership with Northumberland County Council, and it is active in planting wild flowers and trees in the area to encourage wild life.  Verges are now cut at a narrower width to leave more wild vegetation.  The current consultations for the  Neighbourhood Plan show that residents appreciate both natural green areas and cut grassed areas more suited for recreational play or sport.

 

C027/24         4.         PLANNING MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION.

No matters for consideration

C028/24         5.         TO RECEIVE AND APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL OF 20 MARCH 2024

The minutes were received and approved as a true record.

C029/24         6.         MATTERS ARISING

There were no matters arising

 

C030/24         7.         TO NOTE THE MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF 8 MAY 2024

The minutes were noted by the Parish Council.

C031/24         8.         TO NOTE THE MINUTES OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE OF 27 MARCH 2024

The minutes were noted by the Parish Council.

C032/24         9.         TO NOTE THE MINUTES OF THE ALLOTMENT COMMITTEE (TENANTS MEETING) OF 24 APRIL 2024.

The minutes were noted by the Parish Council.

C033/24         9.         TO RECEIVE AND APPROVE ADDITIONS TO THE FIXED ASSEST REGISTER FOR 2023/24.

The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer presented the fixed asset register for 2023/4, and explained that once approved by members the assets held will be reported to the external auditor through accounting statement box 9 of the AGAR return.

RESOLVED:  Members approved the fixed assets register as presented.

 

C034/24         10.       TO RECEIVE THE END OF YEAR REPORT FROM THE INTERNAL AUDITOR.

The year end report from the internal auditor Susan Coulthard, was presented for consideration.  The internal audit included examination of evidence relevant to the amounts and disclosures in the summary accounts and notes, sufficient to give reasonable assurance that the summary accounts and notes are free from material misstatement. The auditor expressed the opinion that the accounts present fairly the income and expenditure of Choppington Parish Council for the year ended 31 March 2024.

Members noted two comments raised by the internal auditor requiring further consideration by the Parish Council.

i     To request from the Council’s payroll provider a PAYE year-end report and

ii    To consider whether the calculation for the repair and replacement fund is adequate for 2024/25.

RESOLVED: That the Finance Committee of 5th June consider the comments in the Internal Audit report.

 

C035/24         11.       TO RECEIVE AND APPROVE THE YEAR END STATEMENTS AND ACCOUNTS FOR PRESENTATION TO EXTERNAL AUDIT.

11.1    The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer reported that as a smaller authority with a gross income exceeding £25,000 the Parish Council must complete part 3 of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return at the end of each financial year.

11.2    The Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) comprises 4 sections.

  1. Annual Governance Statement,
  2. Accounting Statements,
  3. Annual Internal Audit Report, and
  4. External Auditor Report and Certificate.

It was explained that the Parish Council completes 1 and 2 at this meeting.  Our internal auditor completes no.3 (see agenda item 10) and the external auditor no.4.

11.3    The annual governance statement is a public report affirming that the Council is being conducted in accordance with the law, regulations and proper practices and that public money is safeguarded and properly accounted for. The Council responds to statements known as assertions.  Guidance is issued by the Joint Panel on Accountability and Governance (JPAG).  The Parish Clerk asked members to consider each assertion by turn.

Assertion 1 – Financial management and preparation of accounting statements

 

‘We have put in place arrangements for effective financial management during the year, and for the preparation of the accounting statements.’

 

Members agreed that the Parish Council has taken all required steps to satisfy the assertion; a RFO has been appointed; financial procedures are in place to record financial transactions; bank reconciliations are completed on a monthly basis and reviewed by members; a budget has been prepared and approved; arrangements are in place to manage investments and earmarked reserves appropriately; and, annual accounts are prepared in an accurate and timely manner.

 

Assertion 2 – Internal Control

 

‘We maintained an adequate system of internal control, including measures designed to prevent and detect fraud and corruption and reviewed its effectiveness.’

 

Members asserted the Parish Council has in place and follows Standing orders and Financial Regulations. These documents identify how the Council operates to safeguard public money, how the Council makes its financial transactions, how it manages risk, how it pays staff, and how fixed assets are maintained and secured.  Members review these procedures and undertake regular internal examination of finances.

 

Assertion 3 – Compliance with laws regulations and proper practices

 

‘We took all reasonable steps to assure ourselves that there are no matters of actual or potential noncompliance with laws, regulations, and proper practices that could have a significant financial effect on the ability of this smaller authority to conduct its business or on its finances.’

 

Members asserted the Council has acted lawfully.  When making decisions members receive advice from the proper officer who confirms legal authority and power to act.

 

Assertion 4 – Exercise of Public Rights

 

‘We provided proper opportunity during the year for the exercise of electors rights in accordance with the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations.’

 

Section 25-27 of Local Government Accountability Act 2014 contain provisions giving interested person rights of inspection of accounts and records.  In making this assertion members noted the Council makes its accounts accessible for 30 working days during which time there is a mandatory full 10-day period from beginning of July (although this has been extended for 2019/20 accounts), and throughout the year by arrangement.

 

The accounting statement is published on the website.

 

Assertion 5 – Risk Management

 

‘We carried out an assessment of the risks facing this smaller authority and took appropriate steps to manage those risks, including the introduction of internal controls and/or external insurance cover where required.’

 

Members asserted the Council has compiled and reviewed the assessment of risk, and maintains a risk register which records the identification of risk e.g. financial loss of money/damage to property, and management of risk e.g. through insurance, added security measures, internal controls

 

Assertion 6 – Internal Audit

 

‘We maintained throughout the year an adequate and effective system of internal audit of the accounting records and control systems.’

 

In making this assertion members noted the appointment of an internal auditor who undertakes an effective audit.  The Responsible Finance Officer gives the internal auditor access to all documents and records, supplying any all required information and explanations.

 

Assertion 7 – Reports from Auditors

 

‘We took appropriate action on all matters raised in reports from internal and external audit.’

 

Members consider all reports from the internal and external auditors and resolve any actions that might be required.

 

Assertion 8 – significant events

 

‘We considered whether any litigation, liabilities or commitments, events or transactions, occurring either during or after the year-end, have a financial impact on this smaller authority and, where appropriate have included them in

the accounting statements.’

 

In setting the budget and when authorising year end statements, the council consider any events occurring during the financial year (or after the year-end), that have consequences, or potential consequences, on the authority’s finances.

 

 

Assertion 9 – Trust Funds

 

Not applicable

 

 

11.4    Members considered the accounting statement for the year ended 31 March 2024

 

RESOLVED:

 

  1. Having noted the completion of the annual internal report from the internal Auditor, members considered the annual governance statement and accounts.
  2. Members considered the annual governance statement and determined that to the best of their knowledge and belief that they have satisfied their responsibilities in relation to assertions 1 to 8 inclusive.
  3. Members noted that section 9 of the statement was not applicable as the council does not act as the sole managing trustee of any local trust or similar body.
  4. Members received and approved the accounting statement and supporting documentation for the year ended 31 March 2024.
  5. The Chairman of the meeting and the Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer were authorised to sign the statements contained in the Parish Council’s annual return for the financial year ended 31 March 2024.
  6. The signed AGAR to be displayed on the Council’s website before 3 June 2024.

 

Agenda – Part 2.  There were no matters referred for consideration from part 1 of the agenda.

 

There being no further business the meeting concluded at 19.25.