Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Municipal Offices

Contact: Democratic Services 

No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillors Willingham, Joy, Beale and McCloskey.



Declarations of interest


There were none.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 152 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 31 January were approved as a true record and signed accordingly.


Public and Member Questions

These must be received no later than 12 noon on the seventh working day before the date of the meeting


There were none.


Interim Auditor's Annual Report, 2021-22 and 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 5 MB

Report of Grant Thornton, external auditors


Peter Barber of Grant Thornton introduced the combined report for 2021-22 and 2022-23, explaining that the role of the external auditor is to give an opinion on the financial statements and a conclusion on value for money (VFM), based on the National Audit Office (NAO) code and focussing on three areas:

-       financial sustainability – how CBC sets, monitors and delivers its budget and savings, an increasingly challenging position to deliver 13-14 years into austerity;

-       governance – how CBC makes decisions, whether these are based on complete and accurate information, and how these can be challenged in an appropriate way;

-       economy, efficiency and effectiveness – how services are delivered and how delivery is prioritised, given limited resources.


The report was deliberately detailed, with two years’ coverage (2021/22 & 2022/23) as required under NAO code. 


Peter ran through the three types of recommendation that can arise from the external auditor’s VFM work as set out at Appendix B:

-       statutory – reserved for the most serious concerns – CBC has none;

-       key – where auditors consider appropriate arrangements are not in place – CBC has none;

-       improvement – where some strengthening and refining of what is already in place is required – CBC has eight.


The overall message is positive, reflecting the council’s current position, and the huge changes it will undergo in the next 18 months. The complex and ambitious projects offer great opportunities but inevitably bring risks – it is crucial that these are carefully managed - risk aware rather than risk averse.


At the Chair’s request, he explained why two years are being taken together, and that following a significant delay in reporting for 2021-22, that report is combined with the 2022-23 report – it cannot be called ‘final’ as the 2022-23 opinion has not been concluded, but 2021-22 can be closed once the report is presented as ‘interim’, and a certificate issued to confirm closure.  Accounts for 2022-23 still have to be published, and auditors have to complete a backstop opinion by the end of September 2024 – at which point the 2022-23 audit can be closed and the new auditors can start on 2023-24.


The Chair welcomed the progress to date, and that CBC has no issues in the significant or key categories.  He then turned to the first recommendation concerning economy, efficiency and effectiveness and the use of resources.


The Deputy Chief Executive thanked Peter Barber and his colleagues for their hard work, and welcomed the largely positive report, but said it would be naïve to think there would be no areas where improvement was required, particularly given the financial climate and the recognition of the exciting initiatives ahead, with the transition of Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) and some high-profile asset disposals. He accepts that CBC needs to keep working to financial sustainability – the Number 1 priority of the Golden Valley project, and from a financial perspective the need the mitigate the risk from a number of economic factors to have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Any other item the chairman determines to be urgent and requires a decision


There were none.


Date of next meeting

17 April 2024


The next meeting will be hold on Wednesday 17 April.