Bleadon Accountability Statement AGAR Guide

Posted on 20th August, 2022


The AGAR process ensures that all councillors’ agreed decisions, and associated income and expenditure have been properly recorded. Also, that all associated documentation has been made accessible to members of the public to view.

For BPC The viewing period for Bleadon residents ends 07 September 2022.


Every year parish councils submit a statement (aka AGAR) to an External Auditor. How can the officially signed Annual Governance and Accountability Return help members of the public view the records? What documents are available to view?


The AGAR Notice (pg1) states, “Any person interested has the right to inspect and make copies of the accounting records for the financial year to which the audit relates and all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers, receipts and other documents relating to those records must be made available for inspection by any person interested”. See BOB’s August viewing pre-queries awaiting answers and an Inspection date. Also, July questions & BPC official response.


The Right to Inspect the council’s records is enshrined in law (AGAR Notice pg2). In July the External Auditor stated that they had, "... written to … [Bleadon] Council about the need to restart the public rights period since the approved AGAR has not been published on the website. Members of the public will therefore have the opportunity to inspect the accounting records and ask questions of the clerk for a further 6 weeks. If any concerns remain after the Council has responded to queries, electors may wish to consider raising objections to the AGAR with the appointed auditor"






AGAR Form 3

BPC email July 22, “The public Inspection period can only commence once the AGAR has been approved, published and submitted to the external auditor”


There are six main parts to this document:

Guidance Notes (pg1&2)

Annual Internal Audit Report (pg3)

Section 1 Annual Governance Statement (pg4)

Section 2 Accounting Statements (pg5)

External Auditor’s Report and Certificate (pg6)

• Associated Appendices (pg7 onwards)


BPC’s AGAR Form 3 is available on its website or here. It was agreed, approved and signed by BPC on 13 June 22 (Min 354.7.1) but was only made accessible to the public via the BPC website around 26/27 July.


NB BPC's Financial Regulations 1.13 states, "The council is not empowered by these Regulations or otherwise to delegate certain specified decisions. In particular any decision regarding:

  • setting the final budget or the precept (council tax requirement);
  • approving accounting statements;
  • approving an annual governance statement;
  • declaring eligibility for the General Power of Competence; and
  • addressing recommendations in any report from the internal or external auditors, shall be a matter for the full council only"
AGAR Notice

This is the official notice inviting members of the public to Inspect BPC’s records and ask questions during a strict 6 week period (BPC’s viewing period ends 07 Sept 22)


It states, all related documentation must be made available for inspection.

For maximum public engagement the AGAR Notice should ideally be published on Bleadon’s five community noticeboards as well as on the BPC website. This year BPC published four AGAR Notices, the current one is the BPC website and here.


Pages 2 and 3 of the AGAR Notice give a ‘Summary of Your Rights’ (can only be used to view BPC records before 07 Sept 22 in BPC’s case) including:

  • The basic position
  • The right to inspect the accounting records and ask BPC questions
  • The right to ask the auditor questions about the accounting records
  • The right to make objections at audit

[BPC AGAR Notice V1, V2, V3, V4]


11 Oct 21 (Min 346.7.3) "To note the receipt of the 20-21 AGAR Interim Report and the posting of the right to inspect notice. Noted"?


Guidance Notes (pg1&2)

 Includes general guidance and an AGAR Completion Checklist


 See AGAR Form 3 pg1&2
Annual Internal Audit Report (pg3)

 The Internal Auditor undertakes a “…Selective assessment of compliance with the relevant procedures and controls in operation.” Includes:

 BPC councillors have decided not to publish appendices, reports or working group notes, so these Internal Auditor reports are only available on request to BPC and should be present at the AGAR viewing e.g. (The public have access to the last 5 years full Internal Audit reports?)




31MAY2120FEB22 (13 Feb 22?)  Internal Report (Min 350.7.6 & Mar Min 351.7.5) 11 June 22 Report requested but not received yet (Min 354.7.1.a) and 14 June 21 (Min 343.7.4) 


11 Oct 21 (Min 346.7.3) "To note the receipt of the 20-21 AGAR Interim Report and the posting of the right to inspect notice. Noted"?


Section 1 Annual Governance Statement (pg 4)

 This is where BPC officially acknowledges its “…responsibility for ensuring that there is a sound system of internal control, including arrangements for the preparation of the Accounting Statements”. Includes:

 AGAR Section 1 Approved and signed by full council 13 June (Min 354.7.1b)
Section 2 Accounting Statements (pg5) States summary of BPC income, expenditure, reserves, staffing, assets and Trustee responsible for managing Trust funds or assets

 AGAR Section 2 Approved and signed by full council 13 June (Min 354.7.1c) Includes current and previous precept (also see Historic Precept values)


Hows does BPC expenditure relaate to any BPC financial powers e.g. S137 and/or any General Power of Competence (GPC)? When was BPC's GPC postition last declared (e.g.20Aug19 Min 325.7 and associated BPC GPC Policy? Do GPC declarations need to be made annunally, or when gained/lost? How does GPC relate to BPC giving any grants, payments, donations, contributions, gifts, etc. to independent organisations, community groups etc? How do BPC manage the associated risk, e.g. via the Risk Register or Financial Regulations e.g. 1.13?  For example payments to Trusts, or projects) 

Last pulbic election was May 2015?Last assumed full re-election was 2019? Cllr appointment dates here.


Why doesn’t the ‘Total Fixed Assets’ match the published Asset Register values?


External Auditor’s Report and Certificate (pg6)

 External Auditors undertake a limited assurance review. The public can use the AGAR period to ask BPC questions relating to the AGAR period (this year for decisions and expenditure for Apr21-Mar22). If no clarity is received then, from the AGAR Notice, members of the public have:

  • The opportunity to question the appointed auditor about the accounting records; and
  • The right to make an objection which concerns a matter in respect of which the appointed auditor could either make a public interest report or apply to the court for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful. Written notice of an objection must first be given to the auditor and a copy sent to the smaller authority.

The External Auditor’s Report and Certificate is published on an updated AGAR Form 3 after the AGAR period ends.


The public should have access to the last 5 years full External Audit reports? The info currently published on the BPC website for past years is only the overview information, not full reports, and some info is missing E.g. 2018/19 doesn’t contain a signed External Auditor overview report or certificate at all? Last year’s is awaiting External Audit review.


AGAR Appendices (pg7 onwards)

 Additional information such as Explanation of variances, Bank Reconciliation.


 AGAR Form 3 Appendices are on the BPC website and here.
Precept, Budget & Reserves (Internal Audit Report – D)The precept or rates requirement resulted from an adequate budgetary process; progress against the budget was regularly monitored; and reserves were appropriate”

 This year BPC precept rose 8% from £50K to £54K (27 Jan 22 Min 349.4) the Budget was set at £64K (Min 349.3) See Precept Banding Info 2022/23.


For this years 2021/22 AGAR the Precept was £50K (Jan 21 Min 339.7.4) and Budget of £69K (Dec 20 Min 338.7.4)


How do BPC monitor the Budget? Why aren't the montly reports available to the public either via the minutes and/or at AGAR viewings? How does the current BPC apporach comply with the BPC Risk Register e.g. Reporting & Auditing? and Financial Reguations Section 3 Annual Estimates (Budget) and Forward Planning?


BPC do not publish an itemised budget at the time the precept and budget is set, only a budget overview.Therefore, the first public view of the itemised budget is 3 months later via the Q1 quarterly financial info published in June e.g. new format Q1 for 2022/23 or former format e.g. Q4 2021/22


See also BPC July AGAR response. BPC is yet to confirm the purpose of some of the reserves.


Risk Assessment/Register (Internal Audit Report - C) “The authority assessed the significant risks to achieving tis objectives and reviewed the adequacy of arrangements to manage these

 The current BPC online Risk Assessment/Register is dated 2020 Draftv3 as seen here? (See 05 May 2021 Min 342.13.2 and Jun 2020 Min 333.9.m.a.i/ii?)


All reference to the Finance & Personnel Committee were removed as compared to the 2019 version.


BPC has given no explanation as to why the quarterly Finance Committee was disbanded as the workload is still the same regardless of the number of councillors present? Nor for disbanding the monthly Planning Committee (still referenced in BPC’s current Standing Orders?), nor for disbanding the quarterly Open Spaces Committee (2021/22 Budget of £27K in Summary Receipts)?


The removal of these three committees has removed a potential 20 meetings and associated Q&A sessions from the public. It also reduces the ability for councillors to have more in depth discussion on the related topics. These disbanded committees seem to have ‘fallen off’ the agenda in July 20 (Min 334.7) compared to May 19 (Min 322.13), without any recorded explanation as to why this new approach, with less time allocated and less public interaction, would reduce BPC's governance an accountability risk rather than increase it? (See councillor appointments)


Asset Register (Internal Audit Report – H) “Asset … registers were complete and accurate and properly maintained

 The current BPC online Asset Register is dated June 2020 Draft as seen here, Reviewed 05 May 21 (Min 342.13.2). Also Updated Draft 12 July 2021 Min 344.7.1, Insurance Revision - 13 Sep 21 Min 345.4.12 and Hall insurance 13 Dec 21 Min 347.4.8?


How does the Asset Register relate to the Maintenance Schedule, if any, and future budget setting? How does it relate to BPC Financial Regulations e.g. 12.6?


How should Trust items be listed? e.g. The Village Halls are not noted as 'in Trust' and appear as a BPC asset of £1.1 million, yet previously residents were told it should be 'nil' value? See change in recording building assets May 21 (Min 342.13.3)? Also previous AGAR returns.

Painting of Halls £2.6K (14 Feb 22 Min 350.7.7 & 14 Mar 22 Min 351.7.11) Is this a grant from BPC to BPC as Trustee? See 23May11 (Min 233.22.1 Also see Section 2.


Various items are missing from online 2020 Asset Register e.g. 9 councillor Samsung tablets? Church Clock? Defibrilator? Coins as indicated in Sep20 (Min 335.5)?


13 Sep 21 (Min 345.12) "...revisit the Asset List to revise some of the insurance bandings" & 13 Dec 21 (Min 344.7.5) reinstatement values

On 25 Jul 21 BPC sent BOB an updated, unapproved new version of its Asset Register waiting for councillor approval (i.e. sent after AGAR first submitted to Audit see AGAR Notice v1 that ended 22Jul22? Church Clock valued at £200 but BPC has started a £12K reguidling project (BVN#121 insert last page)? What money has been raised for the Clock so far, where is this documented? How does minuted expenditure match Asset Register entries? See Reserves allocated to church.


Website Information & Transparency (Internal Audit Report – L)

 “The authority publishes information on a free to access website/webpage up to date at the time of the internal audit in accordance with any relevant transparency code requirement”


AGAR Box ‘L’ is Ticked as not covered – “If the response is ‘not covered’ please state when the most recent internal audit work was done in this area and when it is next planned; or, if coverage is not required, the annual internal audit report must explain why not…

 Unlike some parish councils, BPC councillors have decided that the public will not have access to their monthly meeting supporting/ decision-making documentation e.g. no monthly minute appendices, reports, working group notes, reports to council including inspection reports, detailed financial reports, etc.


See ICO Transparency Overview.. In May21 (Min 342.13.8) Councilllors reviewed BPC’s Publication Scheme see comparison with ICO Template Publication Scheme


Each BPC agenda refers to the “Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014


AGAR Form 3 pg9 – the Internal Auditor states that BPC “… is not required to comply with the Transparency Code for Smaller Authorities 2014”?


Website duties were upwardly delegated to a councillor 14 Mar 22 (Min 351.7.9) .

Trustee responsibilities (Internal Audit Report – O) “The Parish Council is directly responsible for the … Coronation & Jubilee Halls as Custodial Trustees [Protocol]– Operated by an independent Management Committee. Youth Centre land as Custodial Trustees [see Lease] Coronation Hall Car Park … ” and “Play Area and Equipment”

 Each Trust appears to be run as a charity.


NB Halls changed from 'N/A Trust' 2020 AGAR  pg3 Box 'M' to 'In Trust' 2021 AGAR and 2022 AGARs Box 'O'. See Asset Register Trusts.


A record of submitted annual returns, accounts and trustees' annual report (TAR) for the last five financial periods can be found on the Charity Commission website – (although there appears to be none for BPC as a Custodial Trustee of the Coronation & Jubilee Halls, Car Park or Land under Youth Club?)


- Independent Halls Management Committee (Charity No: 1042602), and related 2010 Protocol to hold quarterly public meetings? Where are these minutes published)


- The Park is managed by BPC as a Playground Charity (Charity No: 304491) who appear to have recorded/spent nothing on the park in the last 5 years but instead record this Trust expenditure in BPC accounts? Dec 21 (Min 347.10.1) “…required formal annual meeting of the Playground Charity”, Where are the last 5 years’ meetings noted in Full council? Where are the minutes published? Park AGM 14FEB22 (Dated 2020?) Minutes received via Clerk 25July22 AGAR Response 


- The Youth Club is managed and financed independently by the Bleadon Youth Club (Charity No: 304492) and has a Lease with BPC, see Notes


AGAR Form 3 'O' Trustee Responsibilities statement was changed to ‘YES’ in 2021 from ‘NO’ in 2020? Which Trusteeships are included? See Trustee Responsibilities


Declaration of Interests Pecuniary Interests (Appendix A) and Other/Non-pecuniary interests (Appendix B) Commitment to the Nolan Principles via Code of Conduct

 Councillors’ Declarations can be found on the BPC website (at the bottom of the page), along with a short biography/statement for each councillor.


Are these declarations reviewed annually as each have different dates? Some are incomplete? Does ‘Land’ include property?


During council meetings, Cllrs appear actively discouraged to ask for clarification about potential conflicts of interest. This is indicated in BPC’s Revised 2020 Risk Register Section 4 “… it is not the responsibility of members or the Clerk to cajole the member with a potential interest to actually declare one”



 Minutes should record all BPC decisions and associated income and expenditure, including precept, project budget setting, awarded and received grants, tenders & contracts, etc.


All expenditure is authorised by two councillors.

 Councillors have decided that the public will not have access to their supporting/ decision-making documentation e.g. monthly minute appendices, reports, working group notes, detailed financial reports, etc. Public quarterly finance information has been reduced without explanation.


NB: Neither Income nor Reserves are noted on the monthly minutes (despite Sep21 Min 345.7.7)? Can councillors authorise their own project expenditure? What if there is expenditure/payment that has not been officially noted and authorised in the minutes, should it have been paid? (15 July BOB email to BPC)


See transparency section



 BPC only has one part-time staff member – the clerk, who is also the designated Proper Officer and Responsible Financial Officer (RFO)


All other services are contracted out (see Contracts)

 BPC has not released any signed contract for the clerk post (confidential?), nor job specification or job description (both part of the recruitment process so should be in the public domain and also used for annual clerk performance reviews?) Does this comply with BPC's Risk Register e.g. Salaries & Associated Costs and Financial Regulations e.g. pg10-12?


BPC has not explained how this clerk post advertised 31Jan20 for 18 hrs at £24-27K (SCP 18-23) became 14 hrs at £42K (SCP 39) clerk post one month later on 09 Mar 20 (Min 332.7.5) with reduced duties (and not including homeworking/ training/ expenses/etc. nor any potential increments since)? Then an 18hr post on 14 Jun 2021 (Min 343.7.1.a), did this require a new contract and/or job description, where is this published? See Notes and National Association of Local Councils Scales SCP39


14Mar22 (Min 351.7.9) Traditional clerk website duties upwardly delegated to a councillor


Service Contracts All services other than that of the Clerk are contracted out (see Staff)

 Contracts are stated to be reviewed annually by the Personnel Committee TOR, on the BPC website, yet last published minutes on the BPC website are Aug20 and here? How do contracts comply with BPC's Parish Council Risk Assessment and Financial Regulations e.g. pg10-12?


Some contracts are available on the BPC website (at the bottom of the policies page), some are signed some are draft/unsigned:

Grass Cutting signed contract - £4K (Nov20 Min 337.7.10),

Village Ranger signed contract - £6.7K (Nov20 Min 337.7.12)

Toilets unsigned contract – £1.7K (Nov20 Min 337.7.11) See Notes


Independent Village News Editor unsigned contract – salary undeclared in minutes – now assumed to be £400 per edition/£1.6K per annum? Jul20 (Min £350 for one edition, Sep20 Min 335.7.5 Regularise Editor appointment? Nov20 (Min 337.7.2) TOR? Dec21 (Min 347.9.f) Review of Newsletter arrangements, what was the agreed/recorded outcome? See Notes


Quarterly Financial Reports - Budget by Cost Centre BPC post quarterly financial reports except Q4/Mar – this is published in June after the accounts have been finalised?

 All quarterly reports for the current AGAR period 2021/22 have been removed from the BPC website?


The format for Q1 for the current financial year has been changed without explanation at Full Council? It now has significantly less information, for Cllrs and residents, when compared to last year quarterly reports? How are potential reporting errors managed via the Risk Register e.g. Financial Reporting and/or Financial Regulations e.g. 2.2? (Compare Q3, Q4/Final, May22 and Q1-2022/23 for this AGAR period - e.g. Platinum Jubilee Project)

Summary Receipts and Payments



  • Income,
  • Staff Costs
  • Administration, Grants, Open Spaces Special Projects
  • All named Ear Marked Reserves (EMRs) and their start and end balances

 The Summary Receipts and Payments document is available on request to BPC and here. BPC are yet to clarify its role and responsibilities with regards to stated grants, contributions, project funding, etc. Which categories are BPC responsibilities and which are effectively grants/public money given to other independent projects, businesses, charities and trusts? Where are grant applications minuted and published? NB BPC Grant allocation for the year only stated to be £500? How do these type of 'Grants' comply with BPC's Risk Register and Financial Regulations e.g. 1.14?


Example: The Independent Group ‘Bleadon in Bloom’ (BIB) Project BPC Project Grant 2021-22 £10.1K (including £8,466 + £1,661 carried forward?) Compare to Open Spaces 2021/22 figure.of £8,466 + £1,653 overspend 2020/21? No grant application was submitted? (Portfolio) Did BIB apply for Heritage Lottery Funding - May 21 (Min 342.13.15)? If so, where is the outcome minuted?


Where is BPC's Platinum Jubilee Project budget publicly stated? Is it £7.8K as in Q1-2022/23 overview and 31May22 quarterly info section 250 breakdown? (Why is this info not in Q4 Final 2021-22?) Is some/all the budget held in the Village Celebrations EMR of £1K?

BPC don't produce any Working Group minutes, so how are the project decisions agreed and noted? Why is this informaton and parish recommendations not publicly available? (e.g. Jun 21 Min 343.7.3) How is the 2021/22 individual Jubilee Project expenditure identiffied in the minutes? NB 11 Oct 21 (Min 346.7.7) "... illegal under Local Government Legislation for any individual member to act in isolation." (Notes)


BPC's Reguilding Church Clock Project 14 Feb 22 (Min 350.7.5) 'Contingency EMR' to be used for any shortfall?


Itemised Expenditure per Budget Line item

 This report should indicate exactly what was spent on each project, service, etc.


 Indicated by Audit to be available on request to BPC during AGAR process (Locking PC itemisted accountable budgeting)


Individual Invoices and supporting Receipts for each item of expenditure 

 Individual invoices and receipts should be present at the AGAR viewing. 


Council Policies

 E.g. Standing Orders

Financial Regulations


 Polcies on BPC website 



See also:





12 Feb 18 (Min 305.5) Unqualified clerk Marian appointed, no salary noted. Resigned Sept 2019 (Min 326.6)

06 July 2019 – Ad (by Marian) for 18 HOURS PER WEEK, HOME BASED SALARY: SCP 18-23 (£24,313 - £26,999 pro rata). Job Description including website duties and Job Specification publicly published.

20 Aug19 (Min 325.6) Fully qualified clerk, Naomi appointed, “Starting date 1st September, starting salary SCP21”, 09 Dec 19 (Min 329.8.1) resigned 15 Nov 2019.

09 Dec 2019 (Min 329.8.3) – Fully qualified Locum Clerk Bruce appointed, no salary or hours stated?  (Later employed as clerk from 01 Mar 2020.)

13 Jan 2020 (Min 330.8.2) “To give consider a process for the appointment of a Parish Clerk. Resolved that a process for appointing a new Parish Clerk should be put into immediate effect. Agreed to place adverts with both ALCA and SLCC”

31 Jan 2020 - Ad (attributed to Marian not locum clerk Bruce?) for 18 HOURS PER WEEK, HOME BASED SALARY: SCP 18-23 (£24,313 - £26,999 pro rata). No Job Description or Job Specification published.

09 Mar 2020 (Min 332.7.5) Bruce appointed "... as the Parish Council’s Proper Officer as from the 1st March 2020. The appointment to be set at LC3 – SCP 39 at an annual salary of £41,675.00 per annum - pro-rata £17,781.00 for 18 hrs pw.” Yet councillors, “Resolved to confirm the appointment of Mr B Poole as the Parish Council’s Proper Officer and Responsible Finance Officer as from 1st March 2020. The agreed hours to 14 hrs per week set at LC3 – SCP 39”. Was this post readvertised at the higher salary? No explanation of significant increase in salary, especially as website duties removed from post? (See monthly update payments to website provider Webglu in the minutes) along with reduced admin duties due to the later removal of 3 standing committees and associated potential 20 public meetings in July 20. No official explanation has been given as to why the 3 standing committees are still removed as at Aug 2022, despite councillor requests to reinstate them. See 13 Sep 21 (Min 345.7.7).

14 Jun 2021 (Min 343.7.1.a) “…increase the Clerk’s weekly working hours from 14 pw to 18 pw backdated to the 1st March 2021” Was a new contract signed with agreed new Job Description? (Website duties still removed from post, the 3 standing committees still not reinstated?) NB: related May21 Personnel Committee Minutes still not published (yet accepted by Full Council?) No public explanation of the need for increased hours? Presumably also related somehow to Risk Register Section 1 Finance - Salaries & Associated Costs – Record of hours worked? Staff Costs were £17.6K for 2020/21 and £25.1K for 2021/22 

14 Mar 22 (Min 351.7.9) The clerk’s website duties, that were being undertaken by contractor Webglu, now upwardly delegated to a councillor. “Resolved that until further notice Councillor Graham Getty be responsible for posting items on to the Parish Councils Website.”

14 Mar 22 (Min 351.7.10) “To note the recent announced salary increase for parish council employees of 1.75% backdated to the 1st April 2021 Resolved to note”

How does this approach fit with BPC’s Financial Regulations and Risk Assessment/Register?

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