Minutes

CONFIRMED MINUTES OF THE FOURTH MEETING OF THE JNCC SUPPORT CO. BOARD HELD THURSDAY 8 DECEMBER 2005 AT MONKSTONE HOUSE, CITY ROAD, PETERBOROUGH, PE1 1JY

 
 

Present:

In attendance:

Dr Blakiston Houston
Mr Burton
Mr Darby (Chairman)
Mr Lawrence
Professor Doyle
Mrs Quince
Professor Ingram
 
Mr Lloyd Jones
 
Dr Moser
 
Mr Riddleston
 
Professor Sprent
 
Mr Steer
 
Dr Vincent
 
Mr Yeo
 
 
 
 

Apologies:

Sir Martin Doughty
Ms Fowler
Dr B Brown
 
 
 
 

Contents:

 
4.     Matters Arising.
7.     Report from the ARMC - Oral
8.     JNCC Finance Report: Quarter 1 2005/06 (BD05P09)
                                                                                                           
 

1. Chairman's Opening Remarks

 
1.1 Chairman informed the Board that Sir Martin Doughty had been appointed Chair Designate of Natural England and therefore tendered his resignation as Chair of English Nature. Dr Moser would be Acting Chair of English Nature until the formation of Natural England. On behalf of the Board, Chairman thanked Sir Martin for his work on the Committee and the Board and congratulated him on his new appointment.
 

2. Declaration of Interests

 
2.1 Nothing was declared.
                       
3. Minutes of the Third Board Meeting (BD05M02)
 
3.1 The minutes of the third Board Meeting were agreed without amendment.
 

4. Matters Arising

 
4.1 Nothing was reported.
 

5. Report from the Company Secretary (Oral)

 
5.1 Mr Burton gave an oral report.
 
5.2 The Board welcomed Mr Bryan Riddleston to his first meeting as member and director of the company.
 
5.2 Board members were reminded to advise the Company Secretary of any directorships or changes to personal details. This will ensure the register of members' interests is maintained accurately.
 
5.3 The Board formally approved the appointment of new directors Dr Bob Brown and Mr Bryan Riddleston.
                       
6. Report from the Executive Management Board (BD05P13)
 
6.1 Mr Yeo presented the report.
 
6.2 The Board were informed that the first meeting of the JNCC Sponsors Meeting was held in November with officials from Defra and the devolved administrations, together with staff from JNCC and the country agencies. Members were advised that these meetings would be held every six months. The first meeting discussed the future funding arrangements for JNCC and priorities for the 2005/06 business plan.
 
6.3 The Board acknowledged point 4 of the report and noted the need to maintain an overview of emerging issues that could affect business continuity, in particular, the establishment of Natural England. The Board requested that consideration be given to those services currently bought from English Nature which would no longer be available once Natural England is established. In particular the Board's attention was drawn to the financial services, which Natural England will no longer be able to supply to the company as they will be using the shared services of Defra. It was confirmed that an option appraisals exercise for JNCC's financial services had already begun and the findings would be reported to the Board at its next meeting.
 
6.4 The Board were informed that the Managing Director had recently had cause to suspend a member of staff. The Board would be kept informed of developments and an update would be provided at the next meeting.
 
AP1 The findings of the option appraisals process for JNCC's financial services to be reported to the Board at the next meeting.
 
AP2 The Board to be updated at their next meeting regarding the suspension of a member of staff.
 
7. Report from the Audit and Risk Management Committee (ARMC) (oral)
 
7.1 Professor Ingram gave an oral report of the meeting which had taken place the previous day. The report would be circulated to members after the meeting.
 
7.2 The Board were informed that Ms Sarah Fowler, as English Nature's second member on the Joint Committee, now had full voting rights on the ARMC. Mr Riddleston as CCW's second member now became an internal member of the ARMC.
 
7.3 The Board were informed of the good progress made so far on the action plan drawn up following the NAO Management Letter for 2004/05. A six month closure of the accounts had been undertaken successfully, with a few problems identified, but solutions had been found. Addressing these problems would ensure a smooth closure of the accounts at the year end.
 
7.4 The ARMC had considered two audit reports this time, one on Performance Management and one on Procurement. The Board were informed that substantial assurance had been given on both. The Board were informed that the term 'agreed in principle' had been given in response to some of the recommendations. For clarification, this term is used where careful consideration is required as to the most efficient way to implement the recommendation, taking into the account the size of the company and the resources available.
 
7.5 The ARMC were afforded the opportunity to comment on draft copies of two documents:
 
i. the draft Final Assurance Report for 2005/06; and

ii. the draft Internal Audit Strategy and Operational plan for 2006/07.
 
7.6 ARMC agreed:
 
i. the importance of keeping the three-year plan flexible to allow new and emerging risks to be taken into account; and

ii. the audit scopes should take into account value for money considerations to ensure that real efficiency savings are delivered.
 
7.7 The Board were informed that the ARMC had been presented with a draft Anti-Fraud and Corruption policy. Subject to some minor amendments the ARMC had endorsed the policy for implementation.
 
7.8 The Board were informed that the ARMC had been presented with the FMPR post-implementation review report, which had been compiled by Mrs McQueen. The ARMC welcomed the report and commended Mrs McQueen on producing such an excellent report. The ARMC had noted the costs of implementing the review were lower than had been forecast, but that this was as a direct result of diverting funds and staff from the core business. They agreed that this was a regrettable, but inevitable, situation. The ARMC agreed:
 
i. the action plan be implemented as suggested in the report; and

ii. the report should be circulated to the Joint Committee.
 
7.9 The Board were informed that a system for assessing ARMC's effectiveness had been agreed and would be implemented over the coming months.
 
7.10 The Board were informed that two closed sessions at the end of each ARMC meeting had been agreed. This would afford both management and the auditors the opportunity to raise concerns. The closed sessions would be added to the agenda as standing items. The two closed sessions would be:
 
i. ARMC with management only; and

ii. ARMC with internal and external auditors only.
 
9. Second Quarter Monitoring Report 2005/06 (BD05P12)
 
9.1 Mr Lawrence introduced the report and explained that the report provided information on the progress against targets and on the financial position of the company for the first half of the year to 30 September 2005.
 
9.2 The Board were informed that an amendment had been made to the first quarter figures presented in September. This was due to incorrect treatment of some additional income.
 
9.3 The Board were informed that the next quarterly monitoring report, which would be produced in January, would be circulated before the Board meeting. This would afford members the opportunity to raise any concerns immediately and would ensure that members received timely information.
 
9.4 The Board noted the report and the second quarter spend of £2,627k, which was £255k below the profiled spend for this period.
 
9.5 The Board were informed that it had been decided to reduce the number of targets reported to them at each meeting. This would ensure that the Board only considered the targets essential for them to be confident that the business was meeting its strategic targets, and therefore in this report programme milestones have been reported on. Targets are now rated on a 1 to 5 scoring system rather than the 'on-track', 'not on track' or 'at risk' system.
 
9.6 The Board were informed that there were several recurring reasons why some targets may be at risk of slipping. These included resourcing difficulties, conflicting priorities and the performance of other organisations. Milestones for the 'UK's global impact' programme were to be revised due to the rapid development of the programme.
 
9.7 The Board were asked to note the report and the attached tables.
 
9.8 In discussion the Board noted:
 
i. the report fulfilled the Board's requirement for financial information;
 
ii. the report highlighted areas of concern, enabling the Board to recommend swift action;
 
iii. the next report should have an additional column added to Table 4, to indicate whether a programme performance rating had risen or fallen;
 
iv. the addition of a simple graph to the next report depicting the predicted and actual profile of spend would be helpful;
 
v. some disappointment that the communications strategy had not been implemented as quickly as expected. It was agreed this should be given a high priority; and
 
vi. a more strategic approach to surveillance should be given a high priority. The Board were assured that a draft strategy for surveillance would be ready by spring 2006.
 
9.5 The Board noted the report and tables.
 
AP3 An additional column to be added to Table 4 in the next report to indicate whether a programme performance rating has risen or fallen.
 
AP4 A simple graph to be produced for the next report depicting the predicted and actual profile of spend.
 

10. Any Other Business

 
10.1 Chairman advised the Board that work on an induction programme for Committee members was nearing completion. A CD induction pack will be circulated to all members of the Joint Committee, explaining their roles and how they can best contribute as members. If members feel they require more detailed information, this can be supplied by arrangement.
 
10.2 Chairman informed the Board that a series of informal appraisals for independent members of the Joint Committee had been arranged and notes of such meetings kept. The meetings also afforded members the opportunity to appraise the organisation and Committee.