Minutes of the Parrett Board Finance & Governance sub Committee Meeting, held at 1 Church Street, Highbridge on Tuesday 16 September 2014 at 2.15pm
Chairman: Mr David Spicer
The Chairman welcomed members to the meeting, introducing Mr Chris Gunn of South West Audit Partnership.
Attendance and Apologies: as per register appended. I Sturdy and S Kingham
Items additional to the agenda: (1) Draft Consortium Budget (2) Governance & Training
Declarations of interest: P Maltby (PCM) Any matter relating to Solar Parks – non-pecuniary interest
Minutes of the meeting Minutes of the Sub Committee Meeting held on 20 May 2014: (appended) having been previously circulated the Chairman sign the minutes as a true and correct record of the meeting held. All in favour.
Matters arising: Item 7 Maintenance Contracts: Expenditor and Operator working hours -a report will be provided at the Employment and Machinery (E&M) meeting to be held on 23 September 2014. It was agreed after further discussion, that future consideration would be given to providing training on the topic of Roles and Responsibilities of both members and officers.
Members expressed concern that instructions to officers may not be fulfilled or reported to members accordingly; it was agreed that in-house operations would be discussed at the E&M meeting to be held on 23 September 2014.
Item 7a Northmoor Pumps: members were advised that the Environment Agency (the Agency) has waived its claim for damage caused by unauthorised use of pumps during the flood events of 2013/14, however the Agency request that the Board submits a written apology for its involvement in operation of the pumps; after discussion the Clerk was instructed to write to the Agency without admitting liability. Members were advised by S Gee (SMG) that staff time during the flood events, approx. £11k, will be re-charged to the Agency. Tidewatch hours are included within the accounts at time plus one half. SGM further advised that the Agency has offered to pay for the Boards’ damaged telemetry sites, circa £9k.
Rating System: members were advised that a paper has been produced for discussion at the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium (SDBC) Management meeting to be held on 30 September 2014.
Bradbury House: members were advised that car parking has not been made available for the Board despite extensive effort by officers. After discussion it was agreed to ask Cllr I Dyer to seek guidance for the Board.
Item 9 Banking arrangement and facilities: SMG advised that tendering for banking services has not yet been undertaken due to other priorities such as the Somerset Rivers Board.Use of Public Sector Co-operation Agreement system (PSCAs) with other FRM bodies: (appended) NWS advised that a PSCA is the mechanism by which one public body works for another in a not for profit agreement. Agreements could be set for 3 or 5 years, with annual reviews. A public body does not have to undertake an agreement if it would be unable to complete the works requested within its own programme of works, although a public body could contract works as deemed necessary. After a full discussion, NWS advised that machinery and depreciation could be added to the cost of works.
A Bradford proposed, P Maltby seconded ‘that the Parrett Finance & Governance Sub Committee gives recommendation to the Parrett Full Board to sign up to the use of Public Sector Co-Operation Agreement system with other Flood Risk Management bodies.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 1
The meeting discussed the necessity of a Waste Carrier Licence (WCL) to protect the Board when undertaking PSCAs. Members were advised that the Board has held WCL’s previously for specific projects, however these had since expired.
A Bradford proposed, I Dyer seconded ‘that the Parrett IDB obtains a Waste Carrier Licence to enable the Board to consider and undertake Public Sector Co-Operation Agreements with other bodies.’ Vote: unanimous RESOLUTION 2Budgets: Ref. 8 Drainage Rate update of current position: C-A Porter (CAP) advised that the outstanding balance is £16,955.51. Summons notices will be served,
- where appropriate, during the week commencing 22 September, for a Liability Order hearing at Taunton Magistrates’ Court, on Monday 13 October 2014, in accordance with the Land Drainage Act 1991, Section 54. Members were advised that following the rate demand in April, outstanding rate payers had received a first reminder in July 2014 with a second reminder in August 2014, advising that the Board may summons for outstanding balances and that the ratepayer would be responsible for costs incurred. Members concurred that the procedure undertaken is adequate and does not require member involvement.
- Ref: 9 & 10 Financial position against budget and future projection: (appended) S Gee (SMG) advised that income & expenditure includes:
- Board schemes and Health & Safety costs
- the majority of professional fees incurred are due to legal costs in relation to the prosecution of non-authorised operations of Slabgate Sluice.
- Variance column highlights the variance between actual and budget figures
- Balance sheet: nothing to note or of concern at this stage of the year; significant variances will be reported where necessary
- The appended reports were accepted by members.Audit: Ref. 13 Receive and review reports from the internal and external auditors: (appended) External: SMG advised that Grant Thornton act as External Auditors for the Board, and has highlighted two issues on the 2013/14 year-end accounts:
- Box 4 – Watercourses and pumping stations: boxes 1 through 6 do not add up to box 7 by £20: SMG apologised for the erroneous error
- Expenditure decisions and internal financial controls: the internal financial controls do not specifically include checks as to whether all payments made are legal and within the powers of the Board, or to ensure that PAYE and VAT regulations have been adhered to. Members were advised that an internal control document will be produces to highlight procedures within the Boards’ Financial Regulations and F&G minutes to satisfy the issue.
- Internal: (appended) C Gunn (CG), South West Audit Partnership addressed the committee. CG gave an overview of the Key Controls Audit completed during 2013/14, advising that substantial progress has been made in terms of implementing the recommendations from the previous internal audit, particularly in the area of Risk Management. Sage transactions are inspected and scrutinised by SWAP.
- 15 Receive and monitor the Action Plan: CG advised that no significant issues were reported to the Board, and CG expressed his gratitude to Board officers and members for their co-operation during the audit, however members were assured that audit testing is conducted without officer interference.Publications Policy: Freedom of Information Act: NWS advised that there are no
- further updates available at this time. CG advised that the Local Government
- Transparency Code 2014 is soon to be enforced.facilities: SMG advised that tenders documents are to be drawn, which may require
- review by a sub-committee, for a recommendation to be put to the Full Board. Members
- were advised that dependant on other matters, such as the Somerset Rivers Board
- (SRB), this operation may not be undertaken until December 2014/January 2015.
P Maltby opined that he is heartened by the involvement of S Gee with negotiations for
the SRB, for the understanding of other bodies involved. Mr Maltby also requested that
his gratitude be extended to all staff for working and producing work beyond
expectations; members concurred with this statement.Policy and Strategy: Ref. 27 Risk management: (appended) NWS reminded members that this is a working document, and as such is liable to change. The Risk Register has been amended and updated to include adverse weather conditions, the impact of the Somerset Rivers Board and Hinkley Point impact of new homes building programme.
- Changes to planning regulations are being discussed by DCLG and DEFRA; ADA is formulating a response on behalf of Drainage Boards nationally. District Councils will respond accordingly.
- Members were advised that there is an element of revenue not being spent on Capital Projects due to senior staff involvement with the SRB, i.e. considering external operations/projects for other bodies; however it is essential that the Board is involved with negotiations, and should not consider reducing its involvement. SRB Finance &
- Governance discussions have resulted in IDB officers being consulted within approx 40 SRB schemes; Board members will be consulted accordingly.
- SRB funding: members were advised that funding discussions now favour a precept charge i.e. police/ambulance/fire authorities, rather than an extension of Board area for rating purposes, however the matter has not been finalised.
- IDB1 form: (appended) NWS summarised the Annual Report, advising that Section B – Defra high level target and IDB review reporting provides Defra with an annual review of IDB’s financial and governance positions:
- Training: it was agreed that training should be arranged for Board members as well as officers; NWS was instructed to undertake a review of training requirements.
- Byelaws: due to the legal undertaking for the Slabgate Sluice prosecution, an audit trail for confirmed byelaws is being investigated by the Clerk and Assistant Clerk.Any Other Business: (1) North Somerset Levels (NSL): members were advised that NSL have no outstanding invoices at this time, and that engineering and planning co-operation agreements are working well.
- (2) Bradbury House: a full discussion was held, including the following issues:
- The financial implication to the Parrett IDB is not yet known as this will be dependent on the rate of expenditure for the offices.
- The Boards will no longer be eligible to claim Small Business Rate Relief
- The Axe Brue will be obliged to depreciate the building at approximately 2%
- The sale of 1 Church Street was completed on 1st August 2014, the Boards, with the Axe Brue as lead board, are now operating within a tenancy agreement
- Bradbury House renovations are due to complete in November 2014
- Relocation estimated December 2014/January 2015
- Members were further advised that if the SRB became a precepting body, it would require appropriate staff; however office hosting has yet to be decided by the Leaders Implementation Group. Members concurred that they would prefer the IDB office to act as host for SRB staff
- (3) Bank Street Car Park: NWS advised that requests have been submitted to Sedgemoor District Council to no avail; Cllr I Dyer will investigate the possibility of allocation with SDC.
- (4) Consortium Draft Budget: (appended) SMG gave an overview of the 1st draft, which he advised was subject to change. Members gave consideration to the draft budget:
- Favourable Conditions (FC) staff: the funding will cease at year end
- Funding of the one remaining FC staff member is dependent on alternative funding
- Re-chargeable works: should no funding be available the Board will be liable for the funding
- The draft budget, as submitted, was accepted by members.Date of next meeting: Finance & Governance Tuesday 04 November 2014, 2.15pm, 1 Church Street and Full Board Tuesday 25 November 2014, 2.15pm, Westonzoyland.