Minutes of the Axe Brue Drainage Board Meeting Held at Cossington Village Hall,

Friday 13 June 2014 at 10.30am

Chairman: Mr Jeff Fear

 Attendance and Apologies: as per register appended. The Chairman, Mr J Fear, welcomed Matthew Boley to the meeting.

  1. Items additional to the agenda: Moorview Farm, Mark Moor (Item 15 Engineering Report) and North & South Drain water levels (Item 15 Engineering Report).
  2. Declarations of interest: P Thorne: Gold Corner.
  3. Opportunity for the public to address the meeting: One member of the public present, who did not wish to address the meeting.
  4. Minutes of the meeting of the Main Board meeting on 24 January 2014 (appended) having previously been circulated; the minutes were signed by the Chairman, Mr J Fear as a true and correct record of the meeting held.
  5. Minutes of the extra ordinary meeting of the Main Board on 27 May 2014 (appended) concern was expressed that the diagram of Governance preferred options appended with the minutes lacks structure to work to a voluntary agreement, therefore should not be included with the minutes. N Stevens (NWS) advised that this diagram was taken directly from the organogram produced at the joint meeting; however this is not a final version and is therefore subject to change. It was agreed not to append the diagram to the minutes at this time. With one amendment the minutes were signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record of the meeting held.
  6. Matters Arising: Minutes 24 January 2014:

Minutes 27 May 2014: see Item 6, above.

  1. Draft Minutes the meetings of the Axe, Brue and Coastal Catchment Committees (appended) the minutes previously circulated for information only were duly noted by members.
  2. Draft Minutes of the Finance & Governance sub-committee meeting on 08 May 2014 (appended) the minutes previously circulated for information only were duly noted by members.
  3. & 11 North of Axe –vacancy co-option: it was agreed that items 10 and 11 would be taken together at the end of the meeting.

12        & 13 Finance Reports & Approval of accounts for year end 2013/14: (appended) It was agreed that items 12 and 13 would be taken together. S Gee (SMG) briefed members on the reports submitted; advising that the Finance & Governance sub-committee had scrutinized the reports provided for Section 1 Accounting statements 2013/14 and Section 2 Annual Governance statement 2013/14 fully at the meeting of 08 May 2014.

Proposed Cllr D Baker seconded J Lukins ‘that the Axe Brue IDB adopts Section 1 of the year end 2013/14 accounts as recommended by the Finance and Governance sub-committee.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 1

Section 2 Annual Governance Statement: The Chairman was asked if the sale of 1 Church Street should not have been advertised; NWS advised that the Internal Auditor had opined that the process followed was acceptable. The Board after receiving an offer of sale, acquired a full market value appraisal by an independent valuer, accepted an offer over the market value. A member of the Property sub-committee advised the meeting that the Property sub-committee was satisfied that the procedures undertaken for the purchase and sale of Bradbury House and 1 Church Street respectively were correct.

Proposed A Franks seconded D Watts ‘that the Axe Brue IDB approves Yes to all eight Governance statements on the Annual Governance Statement 2013/14.’ Vote: 20 for, 0 against, 1 abstention motion carried, RESOLUTION 2

Somerset Drainage Board Consortium accounts for year end 2013/14: SMG advised that the fixed rate bond matures at the end of June 2014; this will not be renewed, as the Board has sufficient funds for the forthcoming year and an appropriate, low risk/risk free bond cannot be secured. It was agreed that this matter be discussed further with the Chairman and Vice Chairman.

Proposed Cllr C Williams seconded D Banwell ‘that the Axe Brue IDB approves the Somerset Drainage Board Consortium 2013/14 accounts as recommended by the Finance and Governance sub-committee.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 3

S Gee advised that the Highbridge branch of National Westminster Bank will be closing in July 2014; therefore banking services will be put out to tender.

  1. Governance: Adoption of revaluation procedures (appended) Cllr A Gilling declared a personal interest in this matter. Having previously been circulated, NWS briefed members on the processes used in responding to requests for agricultural land/building revaluation.

Proposed C Ainge seconded R Cook ‘that the Axe Brue Internal Drainage Board adopts the Revaluation Procedures as Board policy, to award delegated powers to officers to undertake revaluations when necessary and produce determinations and to respond to appeals as appropriate, reporting to Finance & Governance accordingly, to review recent changes to agricultural holdings over a two period, however not to undertake a group valuation without prior approval of the Board.’ All in favour RESOLUTION 4

  1. Engineering Report: (appended) Axe Brue Operation of Water Control Structure: NWS briefed members on the paper circulated; advising that completion of this form would allow an adequate mechanism for control of both operators and structures. M Wall (MSW) advised that operators also complete an operating agreement with the Board which names the operators (two per structure) and the structures. After a full discussion it was agreed that the confirmation should read “I confirm I have read the above document and fully understand the indentified risks and agree to implement the control of appropriate safety measures put in place whilst operating the water control structure/s on behalf of the Board.”

Proposed A Chidgey seconded E Badman ‘that the Axe Brue adopts the Operation of Water Control Structure form with the inclusion of appropriate safety in the declaration section.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 5

Maintenance report and report on recent flood event: MSW advised that maintenance is due to begin in the lower area mid-July, however the upper area has commenced, mainly for cattle feed.

Replacement of Tractor: a Massey Ferguson 6485 tractor and Mastenbroek Grenadier Herder belonging to the Parrett Board, has been test driven by the Axe Brue Operator M Andrews. The Parrett Board has agreed a sale price of £27k for the tractor and associated attachments.  It has been agreed that the tractor and operator will be available for the Parrett Board to hire, by appointment a week at a time, charged at cost.  A full discussion was held regarding the Massey Ferguson 6130 currently owned by the Axe Brue Board. It was agreed that A Dowden and the Clerk should investigate mechanisms to sell at an agricultural sale and/or advertising for sale on the Boards’ website.

Proposed M Watts seconded E Badman ‘that the Axe Brue Board disposes of the current Massey Ferguson 6130 tractor and associated attachments as appropriate at an agricultural sale and/or advertisement on the Board website.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 6

Gold Corner, West Burtle Rhyne: (map ref: M11) The Board was advised that land in this area is currently for sale; would the project still be taken forward? The Chairman advised that ownership of the land is not a concern for this project and that the resolution stands.

East & West Waste: Members were advised that water is moving over the tilting weir into Division Rhyne, diverting to East & West Waste.

Tenders have been invited to install three new tilting weirs at the eastern Division outlet from the old raised water level area, mid way along the Black Ditch and to replace the old Middle Weir; the estimated cost is £50k for this year with 50% Grant in Aid funding.

Brent Knoll: members were advised that Wessex Water may contribute to a scheme to relieve flooding in Brent Street and Church Lane.  It was agreed that MSW would investigate funding streams from Somerset County Council as a joint approach.

Improvement Works & Development Control:

West Huntspill (map ref S11): as report – it was agreed that local members would be invited to view proposals for an open channel drainage scheme and associated works in due course.

Favourable Conditions: as report – members were advised that there is no timeline as yet, for completion of remedial works by Dyer & Butler.

Galtons Canal: members were advised that tenders would be invited for this project; costs would be presented at the next scheduled Brue Catchment meeting.

Water Levels: North Drain – members were advised that at 12 June 2014 water levels at the pumping station were recorded as 1.59, however the summer level is 1.86; the level was lowered approx 2 weeks previously.

Members opined that Tealham remains wet and expressed concern that if water levels were raised to summer penn this would prove problematic for the area; after discussion it was agreed to invite Natural England to a site visit.

Water Level Management Plans (WLMP) allow for adjustments appropriate to land conditions.

Somerset Wildlife Trust expressed concern that low water in the ditches will prevent matching of grant requirement.

Proposed C Ainge seconded A Franks ‘that the Axe Brue sets summer penn at or below 1.60 for an appropriate length of time to allow land in Tealham Moor to recover.’ Vote: 9 for, 3 against, 3 abstention motion carried RESOLUTION 7

12.25pm Cllr Turner left the meeting

South Drain – members were advised that at 12 June 2014 the water level was recorded as 1.51; the design level is 1.55; after discussion it was agreed that the level did not require changing.

12.30pm A Chidgey left the meeting

River Brue de-silting: I Sturdy (IDS) provided a briefing for members on national trials which may permit the Board to carry out de-silting on the River Brue from Westhay Bridge to adjacent the North Drain Pumping Station, maintaining the hydraulic conveyance of levels within the watercourse.

Fencing Policy: MSW advised that Mr J Porter has erected a temporary fence, which is contrary to Board policy; MSW met with Mr Porter at Tile House Rhyne, at which Mr Porter agreed to remove the fence for maintenance purposes, if required by the Board. The fence is a pig wire construction with two strands of barbed wire.

Proposed P Thorne seconded P Holms ‘that the Axe Brue Board permit a temporary fence to be completed subject to its removal upon request of the Board for maintenance purposes.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 8

Cleaning of Watercourses near Badger Setts: members were advised that a licence from Natural England would be required to disturb badger setts during the maintenance season. It was agreed that P Brewin, Ecologist, would undertake training with the contractors to ensure they comply with current regulations; the contractors are aware of setts and report incidents of identified setts. Contractors are required to drive around setts when conducting routine maintenance operations. Constant monitoring is undertaken during maintenance season by contractors and Area Managers.

  1. Update of Bradbury House, Market Street: (appended) draft minutes of the Property Sub Committee meeting of 23 May 2014 were provided for information purposes. NWS advised that the refurbishment works contract had been awarded to Melhuish and Saunders Ltd, who estimate a 16 week programme. As a qualified Chartered Engineer, NWS will act as Contract Administrator for the project.

Members were advised that with estimated costs of refurbishment, the Board reserves will remain within recommended appropriate levels, and that all expenses will be justified.

The Chairman was asked if formation of a Somerset Rivers Board would provide a revenue source for letting of office space; NWS advised that the SRB would be a committee, with work to be completed under a Public Sector Agreement, to which costs would be paid by the Environment Agency (the Agency), with the possibility of additional funding by extending the Board catchment.

13.05pm C Ainge left the meeting

Appointed members expressed some disquiet by the increased budget, in consideration of local authorities conducting austerity programmes.

It was agreed that a market valuation be undertaken upon completion to reflect the cost of refurbishment.

The Chairman advised that the estimated date of re-location is November 2014, however this is subject to the various approvals required for road closures and scaffolding during the refurbishment.

1 Church Street sale: draft contracts and tenancy agreement for 1 Church Street are due to be signed in the near future, with completion date to be agreed.

  1. Section 47 appeal by Mr S Warburton for land to be removed from the Register of Drainage Hereditaments: NWS advised that an application has been received from Mr Warburton (SW) under Section 47 of the LDA, which sets out powers to grant exemption from rating. SW claims that as he does not get a service from the Board for the money he pays, therefore his land should be removed from rating. NWS advised SW that the service received may be from precept or sea defences. In accordance with the Land Drainage Act 1991, the Board considered the request and agreed that the Agency is consulted; however members concurred that the application was not justified.

Proposed Cllr C Williams seconded J Lukins ‘that the Axe Brue Board refuses the Land Drainage Act 1991 Section 47 appeal received from Mr S Warburton for land to be removed from the Register of Drainage hereditaments and consult with the Environment Agency accordingly.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 9

1.25pm I Sturdy and R Cook left the meeting

  1. Guidance for Riparian Owners and a procedure for taking watercourses ‘out of view’: (appended) having been circulated, members were advised that the information sheet will be provided for riparian owners prior to a watercourse (or length thereof) being taken out of view; an appeals procedure is included within the document. Members were further advised that the Coastal Catchment region will be employing the procedures. It was agreed that this matter would be an agenda item for the next scheduled Full Board meeting.
  2. Special Correspondence and meetings: None at this time.
  3. Any Other Business: (1) Agenda items 10 & 11 North of Axe and Coastal Catchment Sub-Committee vacancy: Mr Matthew Boley was introduced to members of the Committee; Mr Boley farms land in Lympsham and has expressed an interest in Board business, with particular enthusiasm for the Coastal Catchment area.

Proposed K Smout seconded C Mowat ‘that the Axe Brue Board in accordance with the Land Drainage Act 1991 Schedule I Part III 10 (1) Filling Casual Vacancies elect Mr Matthew Boley to the Axe Brue Board and the Coastal Catchment Sub-Committee for the term remaining until election October 2016.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 10

Mr Boley accepted the appointment and thanked members for their support.

(2) SWADA: members were reminded that a meeting of the South West branch of the Association of Drainage Authorities will be held at the Oaktree Arena, Edithmead, Highbridge on Wednesday 18 June 2014; all members were invited to attend.

  1. Date and venue of next meeting: SWADA                        18 June 2014

Axe Catchment              29 August 2014

Brue Catchment 02 September 2014

Coastal Catchment        09 September 2014

Full Board                     11 November 2014


There being no other business, members and officers were thanked for their attendance. The meeting was closed by the Chairman at 13.30pm.