Agenda and minutes

Corporate Governance and Standards Committee - Thursday, 19th November, 2020 7.00 pm

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No. Item


Apologies for absence and notification of substitute members

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An apology for absence was received from Tim Wolfenden.



Local code of conduct - disclosure of interests

In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda.  Any councillor with a DPI must notparticipate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must also withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.


If that DPI has not been registered, you must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.


Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.


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No disclosable pecuniary interests were declared.


Councillor Deborah Seabrook declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to agenda item 4 on the basis that she was a patient of the chiropractor firm which currently leased Burchatts Farm Barn.  On the basis that the firm was not the subject of the governance report, and in the interests of transparency, Councillor Seabrook confirmed that it would not affect her objectivity in relation to the matter.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 307 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Corporate Governance and Standards Committee held on 24 September 2020.


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The minutes of the meeting held on 24 September 2020 were approved as a correct record.



Summary of Internal Audit Reports - 1 May 2020 - 31 October 2020 pdf icon PDF 220 KB

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At the request of the Chairman, Councillor Nigel Manning and in the interests of transparency, the Vice-Chairman took the chair for the consideration of this item on the basis that he had been a member of the Property Review Group when the Burchatts Farm Barn matter had been considered previously.


The Vice-Chairman, Councillor Deborah Seabrook declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to this matter on the basis that she was a patient of the chiropractor firm which currently leased Burchatts Farm Barn.  On the basis that the firm was not the subject of the governance report, and in the interests of transparency, Councillor Seabrook confirmed that it would not affect her objectivity in relation to the matter, her ability to chair the committee in respect of this item of business.


Prior to the formal consideration of this item, Mr Gavin Morgan, on behalf of the Guildford Heritage Forum, addressed the Committee in respect of the governance review of Burchatts Farm Barn. and a statement written by Honorary Alderman Gordon Bridger in respect of that matter was read out to the Committee.


The Committee considered a report setting out a summary of internal audit reports produced by KPMG for the period 1 May 2020 to 31 October 2020, which related to the review of the operation of Treasury Management controls and the design and operating effectiveness of payroll controls, together with remedial recommendations which had been agreed with management.  It was agreed that an update on the implementation of the recommendations would be presented to the Committee at its meeting in January.


The report also contained draft reports on two governance reviews completed by KPMG, on Burchatts Farm Barn and North Downs Housing Ltd, which had been due in March 2020 but had been delayed until after the lockdown in August.


The Committee noted that the Burchatts Farm Barn review had addressed the process by which the Council had let the venue, which had been a contentious issue and the scope of the review was to examine whether due process had been followed and the lessons to be learned for the future.


The draft governance review in respect of North Downs Housing Ltd had identified a number of areas for improvement in terms of reporting structures, clearer terms of reference, and monitoring and action tracking of decisions.


The Committee noted that, as the two KPMG reports were still in draft, it was intended that the reports would be updated following consideration by officers and councillors. 

In particular it was anticipated that additional information would be included within the Burchatts Farm Barn report which would lead to an additional recommendation(s) being made by the auditors in relation to the need to review the classification of assets. 


Although the reports had been included in the agenda in draft for the Committee’s discussion at this meeting; it was not appropriate for further comments on the reports to be made by the auditors at this stage. 


During the debate on the Burchatts Farm Barn  ...  view the full minutes text for item CGS32


Planning Appeals Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 361 KB

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Councillor Manning resumed the chair.


The Committee considered the first monitoring report providing a factual overview of Planning Committee decisions and appeals data for two calendar years, 2019 and 2020 to date, which had been requested by the Chairman. The data focused on Planning Committee member overturns, which overturns ended up at appeal and whether any costs were sought and awarded. The report also looked at general appeals data for each year and the number and type of appeals received.


The report had also identified costs both for and against the Council and the quantum of costs where they had been settled. It was noted that these may well be from different years as the agreement on the final costs settlement could occasionally take a long time to resolve and often involve a costs draughtsman should the expectations of both parties be far apart. The report also highlighted the high success rate the Development Management team has had at appeal in both 2019 and 2020.


The Committee noted that, in 2019, 73 planning applications of varying complexity had been determined by the Planning Committee and, of these, 15 officer recommendations had been overturned by the Committee. These had mostly been from approval to refusal but occasionally vice versa.  Eleven applications were appealed, of which seven had subsequently been allowed by the Planning Inspectorate, but no costs had been awarded against the Council in respect of any of them.  Overall, the percentage of appeals dismissed in 2019 had been 72%.


The Committee noted that in relation to the plot 23 RSCH Hearing, the cost of the Council’s barrister had been £9,200 and the transport engineer’s costs were £1,600.  The cost of officer time was charged at between £50 and £125 per hour depending on the seniority of the officer involved.  It was suggested that information on such costs should be included in future reports.


In 2020, there had been 80 appeal decisions, of which 66 had been dismissed overall (82.5%), with 12 appeals allowed and two mixed decisions.  Up to the November Planning Committee meeting there had been twelve member overturns, but it was too early to advise on appeal outcomes and any associated costs.


The Committee noted that, at the Chairman’s request, the next report to the Committee would include data from 2018.


During the debate, the following points were raised:


·       The report was welcomed and the Council’s overall performance commended

·       The need for ongoing practical and collaborative training for Planning Committee members and officers was emphasised looking at specific examples of appeal decisions and learning points for the future

·       Regular (six monthly) update reports were requested

·       Details of officer appeals should be set out separately from member overturns at the Planning Committee in future update reports


Having considered the report, the Committee




(1)    That the contents of the report be noted.


(2)    That the next update report to the Committee on 22 April 2021 shall include comparative data for 2018 and set out details of appeals against officer  ...  view the full minutes text for item CGS33


Work programme pdf icon PDF 109 KB

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The Committee considered its updated 12 month rolling work programme.  In view of the business proposed to be transacted at the January and March 2021 meetings, the chairman and vice-chairman had requested that an additional meeting of the Committee be held in April 2021, in order to see whether the business could be spread more evenly across three meetings for more manageable agendas. 


It was suggested that this additional meeting be held on Thursday 22 April 2021.


It was also suggested that, on the basis that much of the business in the Committee’s work programme each year tended to be front-loaded in the first six months of the calendar year, in order to meet key deadlines, an additional meeting be programmed in April each year to help spread the business more manageably.  This would be addressed in the report to the next Council meeting on the timetable of meetings.


The further report on Planning Appeals Monitoring that was scheduled in the work programme for June 2021 would now be brought forward to the 22 April meeting.


The Committee




(1)            That the updated 12 month rolling work programme, as set out in the Supplementary Information Sheet circulated at the meeting, be approved.


(2)            That an additional formal meeting of the Committee be convened on Thursday 22 April 2021 at 7pm.



To allow the Committee to maintain and update its work programme.