Minutes of the Axe Brue Full Board Meeting held at Edington Village Hall, Edington on Tuesday 11 November 2014 at 10.30am.          

Chairman: Mr J Fear

The Chairman welcomed members to the meeting, introducing Cllr John Denbee as a newly appointed member from Sedgemoor District Council and Mr Chris Gunn of South West Audit Partnership.

A two minute silence will be held at 11am to commemorate Armistice Day and George Chinnock, elected Board member.

1.  Attendance & Apologies for Absence: as per register appended.  

2.  Items Additional to the Agenda: (1) Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) and membership – Item 9 (2)   (2) visit to Lincolnshire Boards to review procedures and practices – Item 17  (3) Chris Gunn, internal Audit – between Item8 and Item 9

3.  Declarations of Interest: Cllrs Gilling and Smout – Planning

4.  Opportunity for the public to address the meeting: One member of the public present, who did not wish to address the meeting.

5. Minutes of the Sub Committee Meeting held on 13 June 2014: (appended) Item 14, sentence 5 of resolution 4 should read ‘…changes to agricultural holdings over a two year period…’ With this one amendment, and having been previously circulated the Chairman signed the minutes as a true and correct record of the meeting held.  All in favour.

6. Matters Arising: None

10.35am Cllr L Scott joined the meeting

7. Draft minutes of the meetings of the Axe, Brue and Coastal Catchment Committees: (appended) having previously been circulated the Axe, Brue and Coastal draft catchment minutes were noted by members.

8. Draft minutes of the Finance & Governance sub-committee meeting on 14 October 2014: (appended) having been previously circulated the draft minutes were noted by members.

Staff Audit – SWAP: C Gunn advised members that information had been collected on the matter including composition of other Boards, use of staff and skills and comparison of roles and responsibilities, which will be presented at a future meeting. CG thanked members and staff for their time and assistance in providing the required information.
The Chairman thanked Mr Gunn for addressing the meeting.

9.  Elected member vacancies for co-option – Glastonbury and Mark: members and officers discussed prospective co-option of two elected member vacancies due to the resignation of John Reason and George Chinnock.
R Adlam proposed, C Ainge seconded ‘that Mrs Phoebe Judah be co-opted as an elected member for the Glastonbury area for the remainder of the current term.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 1

Addendum: subsequent to the meeting, it was noted that Mrs Judah is a full member of the Axe Brue Board by appointment of Sedgemoor District Council: no action to be taken.
Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) and membership: N Stevens (NWS) advised members that a Leaders meeting had been held recently with Cllr.D McGinty and D Bamsey of Sedgemoor District council (SDC) at which correspondence from Secretary of State E Truss MP had been discussed in which it is suggested that Somerset sets up a SRA without resolution of the funding issue. Somerset County Council (SCC), SDC and the Parrett IDB are not satisfied with this suggestion however caution was advised so as not to damage relationships with the SoS or Defra.

SCC will hold a cabinet meeting on 12 Nov and a full council meeting on 19 Nov.
Members were advised that an SRA may have a governing committee of 13 members to include a representative from each FRM body and Natural England; but with the IDB’s contributing two members each from the Axe Brue and Parrett. A full discussion was held on membership and deputy arrangements.
Cllr Gilling proposed, J Healey seconded ‘that delegated authority be given to the Somerset Rivers Authority Working Group at its scheduled meeting of 24 November 2014 to appoint two members and two deputies to represent each of the Axe Brue and Parrett Internal Drainage Boards.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 2

10. Brue Catchment Sub-Committee – vacancy: as Item 9 – Mrs Judah to sit on the Brue Catchment sub-committee.

Addendum: Mrs Judah is a member of the Brue Catchment sub-committee by appointment of SDC.
11. Finance Reports: Accounts to 31 October 2014 (appended) S Gee (SMG) briefed members on the reports:

·         Bradbury House costs could be capitalised once the Board is in occupation

·         Maintenance costs have increased due to M Andrews, Tractor Operative now working 4 days per week; 3 days per week in budget.

·         Scheme costs: underspend of committed reserve to be carried forward

·         Favourable Conditions: North Drain – funding fully committed, South Drain – under budget as the scheme has developed overtime and some work, in agreement with farmers/landowners, was not carried out.

·         Any remaining Favourable Condition funding allocation will be returned to the Agency; approx £300k.

Consortium Budget 2015/16 (appended) the report was subject to discussion at the SDBC Management meeting of 30 September 2014, at which time it was recommended for approval by the Axe Brue and Parrett Full Boards. A full discussion was held, including the following issues (the following is not exhaustive):

·         SRA: The SCC has requested interim funding of £2.7M to fund the SRA in 2015/16 before precepting arrangements are in place. This funding will include a sum for backfill costs for senior IDB officers in the formation of the SRA. Current costs this year for senior IDB staff is not being met by the FAP/SCC however SCC have agreed for the project to fund any work on the Enhanced Work or Common Works programme undertaken by the SDBC..

·         If reimbursement is not forthcoming by way of SRA funding, members would request reimbursement from SCC

·         Alpha House: notice has been given to SDC to cease the lease on Alpha House as at 312 January 2015

R Adlam proposed, Cllr Williams seconded ‘that the Axe Brue IDB accepts the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium budget 2015/16 as recommended by the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium Management Committee.’ Vote: 25 for, 0 against, 1 abstain – motion carried RESOLUTION 3
Authorisation to institute court proceedings on behalf of the Axe Brue IDB: members were advised that at present S Gee is authorised to institute court proceedings, however at the recent court hearing undertaken for outstanding rate collections, although able to assist, C-A Porter was unable to address the court.
N Lukins proposed, R Cook seconded ‘that Carrie-Anne Porter Assistant Clerk to the Axe Brue Board be authorised to institute court proceedings on behalf of the Axe Brue IDB.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 4

 12. Engineering Report: (appended) M S Wall (MSW) briefed members on maintenance undertaken to date for the lower catchments and A Dowden (AJD) for the upper catchments.
Contractor, M Lunnon has yet to begin his maintenance contract, it was agreed that AJD would investigate.

(1)   Water levels: Water levels will be monitored prior to setting winter penn at 1st December; the Board will be pre-emptive where possible rather than reactive. Water levels can be retained where necessary with tilting weirs. Concern was expressed for water levels during heavy rainfall; A Franks requested clarification of agreement for operation of tilting weirs in the raised water level areas.

(2)   ROF outfall: N Lukins asked that the Board give consideration to serving an enforcement notice on the operating body to resolve maintenance issues, to an outfall believed to be owned by BAE, operated by the Agency; it is understood that the structure is seized and inoperable. It was agreed that officers would discuss this matter with the Agency at a forthcoming meeting.

(3)   Maintenance contracts and revisions to conditions of contract: (appended) MSW briefed members; a full discussion was held including the following (this list is not exhaustive):

·         Fuel price escalator 5.2 – Price Increase of Costs: N.B. This section is not applicable to one-year contracts

·         If there is an annual increase of more than 2% in the inflation index from May 1st in the first year of the contract period the Contractor shall be entitled to claim such additional percentage on the price payable for the year in question. In addition, the Contractor may claim a compounded increase in year three of the contract.

·         Work specifications – To include the additional works specification (8) below:
Undertake the reinstatement of minor bank slips and poaching as part of the routine maintenance work to ensure the cross-sectional area of the channel is retained.

·       Invoices – contactor invoices are to include date when the maintenance was undertaken.

D Tratt proposed, R Adlam seconded ‘that the Axe Brue Board adopts the revisions to the maintenance contract conditions of contract as submitted to allow contracts to be let for three years and to adopt amendments to the Conditions of Contract sections 5.2 Price Increase of Costs and 7.5 Termination by Contactor account and payment and Works Specification additional item 8.’ Vote: 23 for, 0 against, 3 abstain – motion carried RESOLTUION 5

(4)   Northwick Road, private work, Mark (map ref M12): (as per report) MW outlined the approach and actions taken with the non-compliant landowners of riparian maintenance works on road side ditches required to reinstate the drainage system.

R Cook Proposed, R Wilcox seconded ‘that the Axe Brue Board serve Notices of Entry and undertakes maintenance work on the road side ditches of non-compliant landowners to reinstate the drainage system and re-charge costs accordingly,’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 6

(5)   Huntspill Moor, unconsented works infilling of ordinary watercourse (map ref M15): (as report) after discussion it was agreed that a letter is sent from the Board written by the Clerk advising the landowner that infilling of a watercourse is contrary to the Land Drainage Act1991 Section 23 and Axe Brue Byelaw no. 6, and that the offender, Mr Clatworthy, should undertake no further in-filling of ordinary watercourses without prior consent of the Board.

A Franks Proposed, N Lukins Seconded ‘that the Axe Brue IDB serve on Mr Clatworthy a warning letter for actions contrary to the Land Drainage Act 1991 Section 23 and Axe Brue Byelaw No. 6 of in-filling of a watercourse without prior permission of the Board.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 7

(6)   Biddisham, Old River Axe Outfall and Weed Screen: (as report) I Sturdy (IDS) advised that tenders have been received for works to increase the size of the outfall into the River Axe as part of the Boards planned expenditure following the 2012/13 flooding.

N Lukins Proposed, D Watts Seconded ‘that the Axe Brue IDB awards the contract for post flood work to increase the size of an outfall in the River Axe at Biddisham to J D Pope & Sons at the tender price of £46,989 to be funded from 2012/13 post flood allocation.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 8

(7)   River Brue de-silting: IDS advised that the Board has been involved in changes to the bid for funding by the Bath and West Somerset Levels Relief Fund to a major environmental fund. The bid would fund the Board’s proposal to de-silt the River Brue from Westhay Bridge to the North Drain Pumping Station.

(8)   BK01 (map ref S8): IDS advised that design work for the provision for site protection and evacuation of water on the lower part of Wick Rhyne will begin shortly.

(9)   Mill Green: members were advised that notes of a meeting held were available for perusal, and that Mill Green will be surveyed and de-silted during the first week of December, weather permitting.

(10) Favourable Conditions: P Brewin (PAB) advised that FC is at the end of a 5 year project; however some schemes are on-going as per report.  The Board is working with landowners regarding the restoration of Dog Leg Ditch. Preliminary designs are being discussed with landowners.

Development Control – Fencing applications: MSW advised that two Land Drainage Consent applications had been received for fencing adjacent to a watercourse; Mr Bowden a temporary fence and Mr Hopkins a permanent fence.

·   The site of the applications is Dulhorn Rhyne which is a viewed rhyne

·   The relevant Byelaw is Byelaw No 17 (d) No person shall without the previous consent of the Board erect or construct…any fence, post…in, over or on any bank of any watercourse

·   Board policy requires that approval must be received from neighbouring landowners where future work can only be undertaken from the opposite bank; neither landowner approves the application of the other

·   Mr Hopkins has stated his farm has a High Health status accreditation; value of stock may decrease without fencing

·   Mr Hopkins: application for pig wire/barbed wire and posts

·   Officers observed that there are other ordinary watercourses and viewed rhynes located within Mr Hopkins’ land holding that are not currently fenced or with proposed fence applications

·   Mr Bowden: application for temporary electric fence on wooden stakes

A Franks Proposed, R Cook Seconded ‘that approval be awarded to Mr Bowden for the erection of a temporary electric fence with wooden posts set back 1m from the top of the bank 5m centres and to be removed upon request for rhyne maintenance operations with agreement that there will be no damage liability on the Board for any and all damage caused during routine maintenance operations.’ Vote: unanimous. RESOLUTION 9

M Watts Proposed, E Badman Seconded ‘that a Land Drainage Consent application from Mr Hopkins to erect a permanent pig wire/barbed wire fence with posts be refused.’ Vote: 20 for, 1 against, 2 abstain – motion carried. RESOLUTION 10

Otter Fence, Lewis’s Drove: a Land Drainage Consent application has been received for the erection of an otter fence along a view ditch within 3 metres of the watercourse. A full discussion was held with reference to Byelaw No. 17 (d) that states that no fence should be erected in or on the bank of the watercourse.

A Franks Proposed, R Frost Seconded ‘that a Land Drainage Consent application to erect an otter fence within 3 metres of a watercourse is refused however if the applicant is willing to erect the fence 6 metres from the watercourse approval would be granted.’ Vote: 20 for, 0 against, 1 abstain – motion carried. RESOLUTION 11
13. Update of Bradbury House, Market Street: formal notification has been received requesting two weeks extension of the contract period, to hand over Bradbury House on 28 November. The refurbishment work is within budget, and a progress meeting will be held with Melhuish & Saunders on 20 November. The financial implications of the extension are not yet known; liquidated damages to be reviewed.

Members were advised that relocation from Church Street and Alpha House offices is intended to take place mid-December.
14. Assessment of the impact of water level management of flood risk: (appended) PAB advised that the information and presentation, shown today, was well received at Sedgemoor District Council’s recent scrutiny meeting.

15. Special Correspondence and meetings: NWS advised that through P Maltby, SDBC had written to the Prime Minister and Environment Agency congratulating them on the dredging work; an acknowledgement has been received from Downing Street.

16. Meetings Calendar 2015/16: (appended) after full scrutiny, it was agreed that the calendar would be reviewed to give consideration to catchment meetings during December 2015 – February 2016.

17. Any Other Business: Water levels are currently at winter penn and below winter penn at some Environment Agency structures; members were advised that the Agency are acting pro-actively to reduce flood risk and that all changes are made in discussion with the Board when possible.
IDB structures are being operated appropriately, with guidance from local landowners.

18. Date of next meeting:  SWADA 10 December, Oaktree Arena at 10am

SRA Working Group 24 November, Church Street at 7pm.

 

 

R Adlam has requested that the Board give consideration to funding a small contingent of members in a visit to Lincolnshire to review the operation and function of the Welland & Deepings Drainage Board during 2015.  This matter was not resolved but would be referred to an SDBC Management Committee meeting in mid-December

There being no other business the Chairman thanked members and officers for attending.

The meeting was closed at 13.35pm