The Environmental Health Manager presented the report which outlined the current position of the Council’s business continuity arrangements, summarised progress made since the last update on 11 March 2020 and described work that was planned to be undertaken over the coming months.
The key issues were outlined as set out in the report.
The Committee was informed that the responsible officer for business continuity in the authority was an Executive Director, assisted by a group of officers from across the council – the Business Continuity Corporate Officer Group.
In conclusion, the Environmental Health Manager advised that the Council’s business continuity arrangements were aligned to the principles of ISO22301 – which aimed to minimise the impact of disruptive incidents. Business continuity was not a static process; it is therefore important that, as the nature of the organisation changed, the council’s business continuity arrangements reflected those changes.
In response to a question from Councillor Ryves on the situation regarding make any permanent changes on the management workflow and officers working from home, the Environmental Health Manager explained that working from home was under review. The current arrangements would remain in place until 31 March 2022, at which time Management Team would review the situation and that no permanent decision had been made. The committee was informed that officers worked on a rota basis with days in the office and at home which was a flexible arrangement.
Following questions from Councillor Collingham on social distancing and Covid measures in place for staff working in the office, the Environmental Health Manager outlined the measures which had been put in place and advised that some staff were located in other buildings and gave examples of the Town Hall, Fairstead and South Lynn Community Centre. It was explained that screens had been installed to allow staff working in the office to be spaced out more.
In responses to questions from Councillor Morley on the significant incident team, forward work plan, direct relationship and outcome, the Environmental Health Manager provided an overview of other items which had been included on the work plan which were not directly related to the significant incident team. The Environmental Health Manager drew the Committee’s attention to Appendix A which set out a flow chart summarising the overview of response to an incident.
Councillor Morley referred to his Councillor ID Card and the information on how to access the business incident portal and explained that an error had occurred. In response, the Environmental Health Manager undertook to check if there was an error and advise the committee accordingly.
Councillor Devereux asked what was the relationship between the business continuity work and the risk register, what were the business critical features and vice versa, the Environmental Health Manager commented that it was his understanding that there were a myriad of issues which may impact upon the council and there was some crossover. He added that if there was a particular issue in relation to business continuity it would remain on the Risk Register until it had been resolved.
The Chair thanked the Environmental Health Manager for presenting the annual update report.
RESOLVED: The Audit Committee:
1) Reviewed progress and endorsed the approach being taken to the Council’s business continuity arrangements.
2) Confirmed it wished to receive annual updates.