Minutes of the Brue Catchment Meeting

Held at 1 Church Street, Highbridge on Tuesday 02 September 2014 at 10.30 am

Chairman: Mr Ray Adlam

  1. Attendance and Apologies: as per register appended
  2. Items additional to the agenda: MW- Request from Mr John Wall regarding Wainbridge and Tilehouse Rhyne to share the burden of the spoil from maintenance operations.  He has asked for a commitment from the Board to maintain the rhyne and place the spoil on the other bank for the next five years.

MW – Mr Stuart Clatworthy – unconsented fencing.

  1. Declarations of interest: – members will declare an interest should it arise in the meeting.
  2. Opportunity for the public to address the meeting: no members of the public present.
  3. Minutes of the Brue Catchment meeting held on 27 May 2014: (appended) having been previously circulated, two amendments were made. Item 6 query on Dog Leg ditch.  With these amendments the minutes were signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record of the meeting held.
  4. Matters Arising: A members site meeting had been held at Back Lane Rhyne Mark with Matthew Wall (MSW). The meeting decided that the desilting of the rhyne was required and that it should put out to tender.

Tenders had now been received from three contractors and that following assessment it was agreed to award the work to J D Pope & Sons.

The two dips in the road at Tealham Moor – the one to the west is in Dyer and Butlers remedial work to be done, the second one has been partly repaired by the local highway authority.

Spratts will be returning to West Drove Rhyne Burtle which will be taken into view when work is complete.  Work has started on Stoning Pound Rhyne.

Anthony Dowden (AJD) reported that the price of the tractor which was purchased from the Parrett IDB was £27000.  Following a tender process the old Axe Brue tractor was sold to a local landowner..

  1. Board Resignations – Resignations had been received from Mr J Reason and Mr G Chinnock. Nick Stevens (NWS) confirmed that new members could be co-opted to the Board from any part of the Board’s area until the next election and asked current members for their suggestions.  More discussion would take place at the next full board meeting.  AJD reported that George Chinnock is quite unwell and is now in Brunel Care in Glastonbury.  George had written to Jeff Fear (JF) who had replied sending his best wishes.
  2. Finance – overview of expenditure and budget: (appended). NWS presented the agenda item as the Finance Officer was on leave, It was observed that figure for the work at Middle Rhyne should be included in the budget for the Axe catchment.  NWS explained the costs for the telemetry as being costs for maintenance and repairs.  Costs are quite high as contractors are finding it increasingly more expensive to carry out site visits.  Local contractors are being sought to try and reduce costs.

Iain Sturdy (IDS) reported that work is coming to an end on favourable conditions and is currently £30k under budget.  This will not be reported to the Agency/Defra until all scheme work is completely finished.  Officers were asked to investigate if the residual budget could be used for de-silting in the scheme areas.

The H&S work across the Board area has been carried out more cost effectively than in the PAR application.  A report has been complied for the Agency to support the case for the Board to carry on with the safety works beyond the Phase I and extended into the upper areas.

JF advised that there were a couple of items on the report that are not in the Brue catchment area, May Ditch culverts, invasive weed control and Middle Rhyne.  Officers agreed and the amendments would be made.

Martin Watts (MW) had received complaints from contractors who stated they were not being paid on time and had been waiting for 3 months.  Officers were surprised to hear the information and did not believe that it was a widespread problem. A delay in payment can sometimes occur when board members are asked to walk their area to check that work has been carried out correctly.  The details are then passed back to the officers for collation, approval and payment.

Maintenance Programme: AJD advised that in the upper region Ducketts had completed the Butt Moor area, John Tucker is finishing Street/Butleigh area and completed a proportion of Long Drove and Queen Sedgemoor, the Board machine is flailing hedges and banks so is slightly behind on the weed cleaning.

MSW reported that Spratts had started the maintenance work at Catcott and should be complete within 5-10 days. De-silting will be carried out in Ladies Drove as extra work.  Andy Tucker has finished work in Mark. Richard Duckett has completed Huntspill work and will be going on to Tealham and Blackford Moor next week. Additional work has been requested by a local landowner Steve Cox which is outside the Board’s area. Members agreed that this work should be undertaken. All in favour.

  1. Improvements and capital works programme – IDS reported that work on Favourable Conditions (FC) is now coming to an end. Nancy Collins is now the only engineer employed on these works and she will also be completing works on Parrett and Axe Brue projects.

The remaining FC work will be carried out under one umbrella project. Tenders were invited for the works which was subsequently awarded to John Porter.  In the Brue area this will include a small piece of work on North Drain, Gaultons Canal Culvert and on the South Drain there work on bunds, a tilting weir, collapsed culvert and flaps and valves on the Back Ditch tilting weir structures.  Alan Franks declared an interest and reported that the Boundary Ditch needs investigation under the Favourable Condition projects.

Phil Brewin (PB) showed slides of the East and West waste project and reported that this year’s work was almost complete. Grant aided is available for this work at a rate of 50%. The contract was managed by Peter Struck with assistance from Anthony Dowden.  The contractor cost was £23,000 which does not include the cost of the tilting weirs at £7000.  A brief management plan will be compiled over the winter months.  AJD also explained the structures and the repair work that had been carried out.  In response to concerns, a trial of a cattle guard will be tested on some of the structures in the water as there have been incidents where cattle have become stuck in the tilting weir.

JF reported an issue at the entrance to Stotts Farm.  AJD advised that this is being dealt with.

AJD reported that East Backwater used to be a viewed rhyne and asked whether it should be brought back into view as a feed route.  AJD advised he would monitor the situation.

IDS reported that an application had been submitted for the funding for a flood and land management project in the catchment of the upper Brue. The project includes an element of de silting on the Brue downstream of Westhay Bridge. This was accompanied by a technical report which outlines the Board’s proposals. Written support is needed from the various land and water management organisations in the area. The dredging element is estimated at approximately £500,000.  Natural England have been very supportive.

Ray Adlam (RA) stated that there are problems occurring at present with cattle accessing main rivers due to the condition of the banks and work needed to resolve this problem.  Mr Adlam went on to advise that if the Somerset Rivers Board (SRB) goes ahead then the concept of the Board is to raise money from a wider catchment to carry out more work across the whole of Somerset where it is currently unaffordable.

NWS provided information about Public Sector Co-operation Agreements which are likely to be the mechanisms by which additional work is undertaken that is funded by the new SRB. NWS will bring the matter to the next full board meeting where copies of the agreement will be available for members to view.  These agreements have been developed by the Agency following the enabling legislation in the Flood and Water Management Act will aloow compliance with EU procurement regulations.  Funding may be available as a result of these agreements to carry out work on channel maintenance and structures.

MSW showed slides of work carried out at Cote Corner and gave members an update.  Noel Lukins (NL) suggested a new scheme to enable the flow of the water and recommended that MSW investigate the area.  A site visit will take place with MSW, NL, JF, Adrian Chidgey (AC) and Pam Thorne (PT).

MSW had received a request from Mr. Sweet to take a section of a rhyne into view.  The Board had agreed at a previous meeting to investigate the culvert on the current feed route but MSW was not able to locate a reported critical inspection chamber.  It had been hoped to build an extension onto the existing chamber to enable any blockages to be cleared.  As there have been no irrigation problems this summer MSW recommended to leave the site as it is.  Members all agreed.

MSW showed slides of Coombes Cider Farm where de-silting work is proposed.  Tenders were invited and the work was awarded to J D Pope & Sons.  De-silting and tree work are due to start in November/December.

MSW had received a request from a landowner Mr John Werly asking that arisings removed during maintenance is placed on the opposite bank for the next 5 years.  Matthew and NWS considered the request but are advising the Board to refuse and will write to landowners confirming this. The application had identified that the Board had no formal policy/procedure on the matter and propose that a procedure and approach should be established for the future.  Members decided against granting the request at present and agreed to the establishment of a more formal approach.

Slides were shown of unconsented fencing on Stoning Pound Rhyne, Woolavington.  Maintenance needs to be undertaken from the field not the roadside for safety reasons.  The landowner/occupier, Mr S Clatworthy, was asked to remove the fence and has advised that it is a temporary fence and will be removed from 31 October.  NWS suggested that a policy is provided that will need to be approved at the next meeting.  Alan Franks (AF) proposed that notice is given to the landowner to remove the fence to enable the maintenance to be carried out.  All in favour.

  1. Development Control: (appended). IDS reported the Board has now registered with National Grid as a consultee for their Hinkley Point Connection Project.  NWS advised that the Board had received a draft Development Consent Order and within it there was a proposal to ‘disapply’ certain sections of the Board’s and EA byelaws.  An objection was forwarded to National Grid who are considering the removal of that section.
  2. Special Correspondence: – NWS had attended a large number of meetings to discuss the 20 year action plan. Workstream 7 is the Somerset Rivers Board proposal which looks at 3 areas –  the extent/activity the SRB will be undertaking, how is it funded and  the governance structure.  It is hoped to have the Board in place and formalised by April 2016.  JF commented that the process was not going well and felt it is not improving.  RA gave an overview of the developments over the last few months after an initial meeting with Owen Patterson.  JF reported that Tony Bradford has been in touch with Henry Cator and read a paragraph from a letter that had been drafted to the Minister.  He also expressed his concerns regarding funding.  NWS believes there would not be any changes made to the special levy funding right or existing legislation, the proposal might be that special levy is not sent to district councils but sent to the new Somerset Rivers Board who will raise the funding from the districts across the catchment by a precept.  MW asked how the SRB would be made up.  The Secretary of State has suggested there should be 10 members – Districts, County, 1 from each board and the EA.  JF read from the correspondence he had received that the numbers would be – district councils 5, County Council 1, EA 1 NE 1 Parrett Tone 1 and Axe Brue 1.  Members would prefer 2 from the Parrett and 2 from the Axe Brue.  Also 2 from the EA as the Board would have to work with them in the future.
  3. Any Other Business: – Mr Churches reported waste had been left in the river. The EA have been informed.

JF had received a letter from Rachel Burden (EA) regarding dredging which listed 4 sites due for further dredging and includes the Glastonbury Mill Stream.

Bradbury House – now in week 4.  The work is going well with few problems.  The shop front has been started and the roof insulation is going on.  The traffic lights will be in place until the end of November and the move could possibly take place in January 2015.

  1. Date of next meetings: – Tuesday 11 November 2014 – Full Board meeting

Friday 28 November 2014 – Axe Catchment Meeting

Tuesday 2 December 2014 – Brue Catchment meeting


There being no other business the Chairman thanked members for their attendance and closed the meeting at 13.20pm.