Minutes of Meeting of the Highland and Western Isles Valuation Joint Board held in Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness, on Tuesday 3 April 2012 at 11.00 a.m.
Representing The Highland Council
Mrs H Carmichael
Mr L Fraser
Mr J McGillivray (By Video Conference)
Representing Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Mr K Murray (By Video Conference)
Officials in attendance
Mr D Gillespie, Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer
Mrs M Grigor, Treasurer’s Office
Mr A MacInnes, Clerk’s Office
Also in attendance
Ms M Bruce, Senior Audit Manager, Audit Scotland
Mrs H Carmichael in the Chair
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr M Macleod, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and Mr S Black, Mr R Rowantree, Ms M Smith, Mr P Cairns and Mr J Gray, The Highland Council.
2. Declarations of Interest
The Board NOTED that there were no declarations of interest expressed.
3. Minutes of Meeting of 5 January, 2012.
There had been circulated and APPROVED the Minutes of the Board Meeting of 5 January, 2012.
Arising from the minutes the following matter was raised:
i. Postal charges – it was confirmed that provision had been made in the
budget for significant increases to postal charges by the Royal Mail.
However given the uncertainties surrounding the new individual registration
scheme the full impact on postal charges could not be quantified at
4. Revenue Budget Monitoring Statement 2011/12
There was circulated, for noting, Report No VAL-3-12 (13kb pdf)|Appendix (21kb pdf) dated 27 March, 2012 comprising a statement and commentary by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer on Revenue Expenditure and Income for the period to 29 February, 2012. The report showed actual net expenditure of £2.385m as against anticipated expenditure for the period of £2.429m. The report advised that an overspend was predicted on the Valuation Appeal Committee expenses, noting that expenditure under this heading was outwith the control of the Board and therefore it was difficult to predict a year end outturn on this heading; compensating under spends were anticipated to balance the position and for the Service overall a year end nil variance was therefore expected.
The Board NOTED the report and AGREED the proposed management action to closely monitor all expenditure in an attempt to find compensatory savings to bring the final outturn in on budget.
5. Annual Audit Plan 2011/12
There was circulated Report No. VAL-4-12 (312kb pdf) by Audit Scotland which presented the Highland and Western Isles Joint Board Annual Audit Plan 2011/12, which set out the planned work based on an analysis of the risks facing the Board, and included an audit of the financial statements and a review and assessment of the Board’s governance arrangements in a number of key areas.
Following consideration, the Board NOTED the Highland and Western Isles Joint Board Annual Audit Plan 2011/12.
6. Risk Profile Review and Audit Update
There was circulated Report No VAL-5-12 (85kb pdf)|Appendix (193kb pdf) by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer setting out the current position as regards outstanding audit actions and providing an update on the risk profile that forms part of the governance arrangements. It was intended to submit the risk profile to the Board annually.
In relation to the risk profile it was advised that the biggest risk was insufficient resources to fund activities of the Service. There would be a significant amount of work to do over the next two years at a time of unprecedented public sector financial stringency. Also risks occurred when legislation was passed late relative to operational deadlines.
In relation to a potential catastrophic failure or fire which destroys paper records the Board were advised of the arrangements in place to address this including strict data backup routines, development of recovery routines, long term transfer of records into data format and development of detailed plans to deal with business disruption. In relation to the uncertainty in the voting age at the referendum and how this would impact on the Service, it was confirmed that Assessors were working on the technical issues associated with this.
The Board NOTED the report and that it was intended to submit the risk profile to the Board annually.
7. Departmental Report
There was circulated Report No. VAL-6-12 (84kb pdf) by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer advising on the current position of the main activities of the Department. The main business of the Department had been in relation to preparations for the May local government elections, the disposal of 2010 rating appeals and the on-going maintenance of the Council Tax list and Valuation Roll.
Following a summary of the report by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer, the Board NOTED the report.
8. Recess Powers
Members were advised that the legislation establishing the Board provided that, if re-elected to their respective authorities, the Convener and Vice-Convener would each continue in post until the first meeting of their respective authorities following the local government elections, at which meeting each authority would appoint its new Board members.
There would then be a period before the new Board meets on 21 June 2012 and appoints its office bearers when each office will necessarily be vacant.
Should the Convener or Vice Convener be not re-elected to their respective local authority, their office will be deemed vacant from the date of the Election.
The Board AGREED that:
i. between the Election and the first meeting of the Board, powers to deal
with urgent business requiring Board approval, or consultation with the
Convener and/or Vice-Convener, be exercised by the Clerk, in consultation
with the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer (or, in his absence, the
Depute Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer), and, where still in post,
the Convener and/or Vice-Convener, and
ii. any use of such recess powers be reported to the first meeting of the new
Board following the Elections
As this was the last meeting of the Board prior to the Local Government Election, the Chair expressed her appreciation to Members and Officers of the Board for their support and hard work over the last 5 years.
The meeting closed at 11.55 a.m.