Minutes of an Extra-Ordinary Joint Meeting of the Axe Brue and Parrett Drainage Boards held at the Canalside, Bridgwater on Tuesday 27 May 2014 at 7.30pm

Chairman: P Maltby

  1. Attendance and apologies: as per register appended
  1. Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman for this meeting: Cllr A Gilling proposed, Cllr A Fraser seconded that ‘Peter Maltby as Chairman of the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium be elected Chairman of this meeting.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 1

There being no other nominations Mr Maltby took the Chair.

It was agreed that as this was an Extra-Ordinary meeting a vice-chairman was not required.

  1. Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman for the SRB Working Group: The Chairman read the names of the working group; C Passmore proposed, D Spicer seconded that ‘the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Working Group be elected at this meeting. Vote: 14 for, 18 against, 5 abstain. Motion not carried. After further discussion it was agreed that this item would be decided at the next scheduled SRB Working Group meeting.

Members were advised of the Working Group members; 12 Parrett and 10 Axe Brue. After discussion it was agreed that two additional Axe Brue members should be elected.

R Adlam proposed, M Watts seconded that ‘Colin Pople and Wendy Welland be elected to the Somerset Rivers Board Working Group’.

The Assistant Clerk was asked to email a list of Working Group members to members of both Boards for information purposes.

  1. Declarations of Interest: None
  1. Opportunity for members of the public to address the meeting: one member present who did not address the meeting.

D Vigar on behalf of a member of the public: Has Monks Lease Spillway been repaired, as the member of public concerned, feels vulnerable from future flood events;

N Stevens (NWS) advised that some work had been completed; however more was to be undertaken. A catch up meeting is to be held with the Agency in the near future, and at that meeting NWS will formally request a meeting with the Agency to discuss specific matters relating to Allermoor Spillway.  P Maltby (PCM) advised that there was an intention to install a concrete sill along the spillway, and that works should be completed by August 2014. NWS advised that the original scheme was a capital scheme from local levy; however no detailed assessment or design is available but details and notes of meetings of the RFCC sub committee specifically formed to address the Parrett Flood Banks are available; copy of report to be sent to D Ayers.

  1. Update on the progress of the 20 year Flood Action Plan: NWS gave a brief presentation on the Flood Action Plan (FAP). Members were advised that the FAP has priorities set within it; those matters that have an impact should flooding occur this winter will be undertaken as a priority. In addition to central government funding already received further funding has been offered by outside bodies such as the Royal Bath and West Society.

Members were advised that dredging material raised at sites in Burrowbridge have been assessed to ensure it is not contaminated and will provide betterment, in addition further  testing has been undertake on land identified  for spreading.

The Chairman was asked if the area and frequency of flooding had been defined; NWS advised that this has not been made available to date, however if Defra were approached for GIA funding, then the exercise would need to be undertaken to assess the benefit: cost of proposals.

FAP W7: Develop future governance and funding model for local flood and water management – a Somerset Rivers Board – working with local partners including EA, IDBs and relevant stakeholders; NWS advised that each of the eight FAP work streams need to be signed off individually, then held for public consultation, however it would still be subject to change.

Project Manager’s Draft Brief is pivotal; the IDB should be included in all discussions; the IDB requires assurance that it can have direct input and influence on the Project Brief. Members were advised that the Project Brief requisite is to ‘Establish purpose and scope of the SRB’, ‘How should it be governed.’ And ‘How it gets funded.’, therefore the SRB Working Group is perfectly set to join discussions. It is envisaged that the SRB would be identified by December 2014 to be operational by April 2015.

NWS briefed members on operational and governance options, providing the SRB Working Group’s preferred options; members concurred that operational option 5 should be the Boards preferred option: SRB Min A – All catchments maintenance of main rivers to head of Main River and viewed rhynes in IDB areas. Works in mid and upper catchment areas not recommended plus the issue of the inclusion of North and West Somerset. Further issues – Flood Risk Management (FRM) works by local authorities, strategic flood risk planning, flood warning, planning consultations and Land Drainage consents, callout and emergency response, as well as bank instability (e.g. Brue Banks), outfalls, trees, debris, carcasses, .

9.10pm C Passmore left the meeting

NWS advised that Axe Brue members on the SRB Working Group prefer Governance option 2c: Environment Agency plus undertaking the operational works as set out for SRB Min A: as a new additional organisation working in conjunction with all IDBs.

After discussion the Board’s Governance option: suggested 6 to 8 members of both IDBs with District Cllrs, County Council and Environment Agency representatives, to manage the maintenance for conveyance on Main Rivers within the IDB catchments as well as the new extended catchment.

Funding: NWS explained the various options available including extending IDB areas with differential rating, general drainage charge, council tax and special drainage charge.

9.40pm J Lock left the meeting

Cllr Lewis expressed concern that there would be an expectation of additional maintenance in upstream areas if greater funds were expected from South Somerset District Council and other Local Authorities that would be adversely affected by extending the Boards’ catchment areas.

Cllr Fraser advised that only a minimal amount of responses had been received to a letter disseminated via parish councils and This is Somerset, which did not provide a large enough response for consideration; the IDB had recommended that the letter was not dispatched.

After much discussion the Board’s preferred option of funding: extend the Board’s area with a differential rate and disaggregation from Council Tax for local authorities.

7 & 8 Award delegated powers to the Somerset Rivers Board Working Group: (appended) NWS briefed members on the Establishment of a Somerset Rivers Board Working Group as previously circulated.

         For the Parrett IDB

         Cllr J Taylor proposed, D Spicer seconded that ‘the Somerset Rivers Board Working Group consists of 12 members from each parent board with the delegated powers as set out in the attached paper by the ClerkVote: unanimous RESOLUTION 2

         For the Axe Brue IDB

         Cllr N Jones proposed, Cllr A Gilling seconded that ‘the joint Full Boards delegate powers to a Somerset Rivers Board Working Group to consider and progress the implementation of a Somerset Rivers Board and to recommend to the parent Boards the acceptability of final options being considered by the 20 year Flood Action Plan Leaders Group and to advise the Chairman and Chief Executive of preferred Somerset Rivers Board options at Leaders Group and Programme Board Meetings, all as set out in the attached paper by the Clerk.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 3

  1. Date of next SRB Working Group meeting: it was agreed that a meeting would be arranged as required. However, progress updates are to be disseminated to all Board members; by way of a newsletter, the Boards’ website or a presentation of slides.

There being no other business the meeting was closed by the Chairman at 10.05pm.