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19 June 2003 Minutes

Board of Scrutiny

Minutes of the Meeting Held at Noon on

Thursday 19 June 2003 at Selwyn College

 

Present: John Spencer (Chairman), Christopher Forsyth, Robin Lachmann, Elisabeth Leedham-Green, Timothy Milner, Oliver Rackham and Jennifer Rigby.

 

Apologies:  Stephen Cowley, David Howarth, Susan Lintott, Jack McDonald and Helen Thompson.

 

1)          Minutes of the meeting held on 5 June 2003. These were approved.

 

2)          Matters arising.

 

a)          Elections to the Board.  The Chairman noted with satisfaction the high turnout in the recent election, which with 1,280 votes cast was almost exactly comparable to the last Council election.  Those elected to serve for four years from 1 October 2003 were Professor David Phillipson, Dr Nicholas Holmes and Mr Roger Salmon.  Dr Mantas Adomenas had been elected unopposed as the under 35 candidate.

 

b)          Finance Working Party: Special Studies.  The Chairman reported that he had been to a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor that morning.  The V-C had informed him that the Board would now be given access to the Special Studies, so that no further representations on this matter were necessary.  The V-C had then delivered a trenchant attack on the Board and its work, accusing it of having done great damage to the University.  The Board stood accused of encouraging damaging publicity about the University and especially of promoting the suggestion that the University was facing bankruptcy.  The Chairman strongly denied these charges and pointed to cases in which the Board had clearly exercised discretion when in possession of sensitive information.  The Chairman also denied that the Board perceived itself as an alternative “government” of the University and emphasized that the role of the Board was reactive and investigatory, not executive.  The criticism seemed to be an attempt to “shoot the messenger” because the Board had identified things that were going wrong and had brought them to wider attention in its reports to the University.

 

3)          Allocations Report.  The Board noted that this had just been published in the Reporter and it was noted that one member of Council, Ross Anderson, had not signed it.  Although not all those present had yet read the Report, the following comments were made.

a)          The Board should write to the Registrary, asking for a copy of the Approved Development Plan for the UAS, a draft of which had gone to Council in February 2002.

 

b)          It was noted that a number of extra Finance Officers were being recruited to serve in the Schools and that funds were being made available to recruit extra staff for English and Criminology.  The allocation for building maintenance had also increased.

 

c)           The Board observed that the projected deficit for the year ahead was to fall from £8.2 to £5.0 million, while endowment and investment income was projected to rise by 22.2%. 

 

d)          Only £200,000 had been allowed for severance payments and under-funded pensions.

 

e)          It was agreed that the Finance Sub-Committee would examine the Report in more detail.

 

4)          The East Forum.  The Board noted the publication of a Report on this proposed development.  Various questions were raised about details and in particular the funding arrangements and the ownership of IPR.  The Chairman resolved to speak to a colleague about the IPR question.

 

5)          The Eighth Report.  The Chairman commented on the urgent need to get this into draft form.  Members were reminded that the final draft had to be ready by 14 July for comment by the principal officers, so that it could then go to Council on 21 July.  It was suggested that the section on governance should comment on the OPM Report and the problem of the accountability of committees and officers.

 

6)          Any Other Business and Date of Next Meeting.   In view of the low attendance and the need to concentrate on writing the Board’s Eighth Report, no other business was discussed.  The next meeting would be on Thursday 3 July.  The meeting closed at 1.25 p.m.