Minutes of the meeting of the joint Parrett Internal Drainage Board Employment & Machinery and Management Committee held at 1 Church Street, Highbridge on Tuesday 22 April 2014, at 2.15pm

Chairman: Mr P Maltby

Following consultation with the Chairmen of the respective sub-committees, the postponed Employment & Machinery meeting of 25 February 2014 has been included within the scheduled Management sub-committee meeting as a joint meeting.

  1. Attendance and apologies: as register appended.
  1. Items additional to the agenda:
  1. Declarations on Interest: Cllr J Taylor: Personal interest: Board member who experienced flooding
  1. Minutes of the Employment & Machinery meeting held on 14 January 2014: (appended) having been previously circulated the following two amendments were brought to the Chairman’s attention: amendment 1: Item 11 C Pople should read C Passmore, amendment 2: Item 9 D Ayres should read D Ayers. With the two amendments, the minutes were signed by the E&M Chairman, Mr B Rowe as a true and correct record of the meeting held. All in favour.
  1. Matters Arising: Item 4 Health & Safety – N Stevens (NWS) advised that the Boards have recently appointed Liz Bennett, Habilis Health & Safety, as a Health & Safety advisor to the Board in accordance with its duties under the Safety Management Regulations. The NFU, following discussion had submitted a price to provide H&S services, however its quote was not as competitive.

Item 5 silt pump: T Bradford (TB) advised that he would prefer traditional methods of de-silting on his land in the future; he opined that the silt pump trial had resulted in no grass production on the area of silt deposit.  NWS advised that in the Axe Brue area, where the land is mainly peat, the results have proven more encouraging for grass recovery. The trial results have indicated that the spoil should be spread thinly and evenly, and that it works better with peaty arisings. All silt pump actions will be monitored.

Item 5 Minehead investigations: I Sturdy (IDS) advised that a meeting had been held with Cllr R Lillis, West Somerset DC appointed member, who has requested that the Board re-submit information related to providing services to undertake works on attenuation ponds and rhynes etc., as a result of re-organisation of West Somerset and Taunton Deane District Councils; the Board is awaiting a response.

Item 5 Butlins: a meeting has been held with Butlins (Bourne Leisure) to try and reach agreement on the future maintenance of the Moat and so allow discharge of the planning condition. In addition the developer will need to submit a Land Drainage Consent to indicate any alterations proposed. Discussions with other stakeholders can be held once the LDC has been received.

Item 9 Massey Fergusson: this item will be discussed at item 9 – Plant update and arrangements for the sale of the MF tractor.

Item 5 winter penning level: at the E&M meeting of 14 January 2014 it was resolved that penning levels of 1 April and 1 December were to be recommended to the full board, however, due to a full agenda, penning levels were not discussed at the January full board meeting.  It was therefore agreed that winter penning levels will be discussed in greater detail at the next full board meeting. Members opined that Water Level Management Plans should be reviewed post flood, to allow a review of the impact of raised water on flood risk. NWS advised that this item is included within the flood action plan. It was further agreed that the Clerk is to write to Natural England to explore if they can support a review of WLMPs.

 

  1. Staffing including terms and conditions: NWS reminded members that the Agricultural Wages Board was no longer in existence, therefore terms and conditions for Expenditors and Operators will need to be reviewed and a new system for pay and conditions is established. A staff handbook is available for Axe Brue administration staff, which in a highly modified form may be relevant to the work of the Expenditors. It was agreed that a working party should be set to discuss terms and conditions at a meeting to be arranged shortly: P Maltby, T Bradford, B Rowe and D Spicer.

6b      Extended working hours: (as report) P Ham (PSH) advised that initial discussion had been held with A House (AGH) and M Hill (MCH), who were willing to consider working extended hours from 7am to finish at 4.30 (3.30 Friday’s) and working 4 days during the shorter working weeks; PSH has expressed that cover should be available over 5 days, Mon-Thurs and Tues-Fri. Concern was again raised for machinery usage hours; it was recommended that overtime be offered where necessary.  Following much discussion members agreed with the proposal set by PSH, and for further negotiations to be held with AGH and MCH.

6c      Mike Snook: (as report) PSH advised that M Snook (MS) will reduce his working hours from 1 May to four morning per week (approx 16 hours); AGH and MCH will cover the remaining working hours where necessary.  Members agreed that MS can use the Toyota Hilux until his own vehicle is road worthy – approx. two months.  The Clerk advised the Board that Mike Snook has informed him that he is planning to have knee surgery next year which may necessitate 2 months absence.

6d      Lone Working: (as report) PSH advised in addition that information has been requested for a lone working monitoring system from Uplands ( our mobile phone provider) which will permit remote logging in. With any failure of a member of staff logging off at an appropriate time, a control centre will call the employee; failure to contact would result in the call centre calling IDB officers to initiate a search.

 

  1. Expenditor’s programme of works: Training: members were advised that M Hill has passed a chainsaw operator course, to enable him to undertake post flood clearing works.

 

  1. Procurement of maintenance works 2014/15 to 2016/17 and Tender procedures: (as report) of the 9 companies invited to tender, 8 have expressed an interest. Members were advised that tenders are due to be returned by 16 May 2014; a tender appointment meeting will be held week commencing 26 May 2014, members to attend are P Maltby, T Bradford, B Rowe and C Passmore.
  1. Plant update and arrangements for the sale of the MF tractor: (as report) PSH advised that the Axe Brue IDB has expressed an interest in purchasing the tractor, it was agreed at a previous meeting that the Chair and Vice Chair meet with the Axe Brue Chair and Vice Chair to discuss the purchase.

Members gave consideration to purchasing a weed cutting bucket for the Herder Cavalier at approx. £6k, or the possibility of the Axe Brue undertaking works on areas that the slew cannot maintain.

C Passmore proposed, M Young seconded that ‘the Parrett IDB does not purchase a weed cutting bucket for the Herder Cavalier but finds alternative flail equipment to use on a trial basis that is reviewed after 1 year and that the Axe Brue IDB is also requested to consider assisting with maintenance operations in the Parrett area if the sale of the Massey Fergusson tractor is completed’ Vote: 5 for, 0 against, motion carried RESOLUTION 1

Trailer: (as report) PSH advised that the trailer cannot be towed by the John Deere and therefore consideration should be given to disposal. After consideration it was agreed that the trailer would remain at the Hope Inn and be discussed at a future meeting.

Silt Pump: PSH advised that a trial with the silt pump for use on a hired in tracked slew worked well; the trial highlighted that with a minor amendment the Board’s slew could track and pump therefore increasing productivity.

Depot Closure: PSH advised that following the sale of the Massey Fergusson tractor the yard at the Hope Inn will be surplus to requirements. Notice to quit will be served after the issue with the trailer is resolved. Works to be undertaken include the removal of any remaining equipment and the diesel tank.

Hitachi Maintenance Contract: PSH advised that the Hitachi maintenance contract will be renewed on a three year basis at £520 per 1000 hour service.

Fuel Price: PSH advised that the current fuel price is 61p per litre; it was agreed that the diesel price for tendering purposes should be set at 70ppl.

PSH advised that rhynes not completed during 2013 will be considered for early maintenance first during the 2014 maintenance programme.

The Chairman advised that at a meeting he recently attended with the Expenditors, Parrett Management Committee and Environment Agency Management, the EA were open to the possibility of dredging main rivers rather than weed cutting; members were asked to advise PSH of particular areas that may benefit from dredging.

The Chairman advised that the Agency has expressed to him that the Expenditors performance had been exceptional during and after the floods of the past winter.

There being no other Employment & Machinery business, the Chairman closed the meeting at 3.50pm

Management meeting opened at 4.05pm

 

  1. Minutes of the Management meeting held on 07 January 2014: (appended) the minutes having previously circulated were signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record of the meeting held.
  1. Minutes of an Extra-Ordinary Briefing meeting of the Management Committee held on 07 February 2014: (appended) the minutes having been previously circulated were signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record of the meeting held.
  1. Matters arising: (E-O meeting) the Chairman was advised that during the flooding of January/February 2014 members were unable to access Agency telemetry data; members were advised that the Agency and the IDB are to meet to to discuss option for accessing Agency telemetry, which is run nationally for their website. It was agreed that the Clerk should write to the Agency to request what flood warning techniques they have available.

(E-O meeting) Disaggregation: PCM advised that this matter would be discussed at agenda item 17.

District Council’s in Somerset have sent out letters to all Parish Councils in the district to ask if they would support the raising of extra funds to pay for additional FRM works locally and county wide; NWS recommended that the letter was not dispatched as the question was too direct. Most councils sent it out.

 

  1. Finance: overview of expenditure and budget: (appended) S Gee (SMG) advised that due to the year-end procedures, the report is a preliminary report on the balance at year end. Increased costs included: staff costs – due to flood watch and the associated overtime, Health & Safety as more work was undertaken than budgeted, however costs for work undertaken during the flooding may be reclaimed via Sedgemoor District Council Bellwin submission.
  1. Ratepayer response to the issue of drainage rate demands: C-A Porter (C-AP) advised that the response from ratepayers to date has been encouraging, and that payments of £31,600 had been received to date. At year end the balance outstanding to be carried forward was £4,356.

Letters of thanks for the work of the Board and Expenditors during the floods have been received; it was agreed that these are copied and forwarded to the Expenditors. So far four ratepayers have refused to pay their rates as a result of the floods.

A payment plan has been requested from Sparkford Estates to pay their drainage rate in two equal instalments being 50% immediately and 50% in December 2014; members agreed to this action.

Bearley Farm, Tintinhull has proposed a 6 month payment plan, providing payment of the first instalment; members agreed that given consideration of the recent flooding, the Assistant Clerk should write to Mr Walters accepting his payment terms, however in future, the Board would need to set terms prior to payment.

It was agreed that the Finance and Governance sub-committee would be asked to set limits for payment plans.

A letter was disseminated to ratepayers under £10 recommending a credit payment to reduce costs and charges incurred with annual payments; this option has been received favourably with ratepayers.

 

  1. Engineering Report – maintenance report: (appended) PSH provided an update of current maintenance, advising members that tree felling on viewed rhynes has been undertaken. Board members had been approached to send out Notices for tree clearances where necessary on King Sedgemoor. The local member preferred to use local negotiation.

A recent accident occurred when a tree being cut back by a contractor’s tree cropper caused injury to a member of the public.  The Board’s Health & Safety advisor had undertaken a review of the Board procedure; the Board was found to be not at fault.

Statutory Notices: NWS advised that a landowner, Mr Quick, had been requested to undertake works to remove bunds and make changes; however despite several reminders the work has not been completed. It was agreed that notice should be served as soon as possible following delays caused by the impacts of the flooding on staff time.

West Sedgemoor: PSH advised that following a rhyne maintenance review, a new proposed target water depth in a watercourse will be discussed with Natural England and trialled.

Parrett and Tone Dredging: I Sturdy (IDS) advised that the Agency has begun dredging on a 200m length of watercourse and large volumes of material are being removed; channel design sections are good. The next stage for the Agency is to contact landowners whose land has been identified to accept the silt, to explain the works and mechanism for crop loss compensation. The Agency has applied for planning permission to stockpile on identified land.  The Agency is holding twice-weekly open sessions at Burrowbridge.

Improvement works and Favourable Conditions Projects: IDS advised that improvement works are continuing on a 5 year programme, however Board funded works have not progressed due to weather conditions and dredging.

Health and Safety improvements works are still progressing.

Medium Term Plan for Favourable Conditions – this the last year of the FC projects; one member of staff remains to finish the projects.

Expenditor contact details have been forwarded to the Agency for direct access regarding water levels.

Members were advised that Monks Leaze is to be operated more often by the Agency; the IDB needs to meet with the Agency to discuss the consequences of this action.

Culverting of Holford Stream will be undertaken in preparation of Hinkley C construction; this work is subject to Board approval.

 

  1. Development Control: appended

 

  1. 20 year flood action plan progress: NWS advised that Martin Buckle (MB) has been appointed Project Manager for the Somerset Rivers Board (SRB) work stream jointly led by Somerset County Council and the IDB, and as contained in the 20 Year Flood Action Plan (FAP). MB has experience of working on similar multi agency projects in South Wales as well as experience with the County Council under Waterlinks, transport asset management plan with SCC and preparing SCC for the Lead Local Flood Authority. The SRB project is due to begin on1st May 2014; however the project outcome will need to be acceptable to all stakeholders. Funding for the project is being underwritten by SCC but should be funded through the Capacity Building allocation in the 20 year FAP.

 

  1. Somerset Rivers Board – The Clerk provided members with two summary documents prepared following discussions by the Chairs and Vice Chairs to aid discussions at this meeting.

They comprised SRB Operational Options and SRB Governance Options (appended) NWS advised that this information with any amendments requested by the members would be passed to the Project Manager to assist him in his work. Due to time restrictions members requested that a further meeting be held the following week to give greater opportunity to concentrate solely on the SRB issue.

It was agreed that a further meeting of the Parrett Management Committee should take place on Tuesday 29 April at 2.15pm.

 

  1. Damage to Slabgate Sluice: NWS advised that during the recent flooding, the structure known as Slabgate Sluice in West Moor was operated by a local resident to try and relieve flooding at Hambridge by allowing flood water into the Westmoor Catchment. In undertaking this action damage was caused to the sluice operating mechanism. These actions are contrary to Parrett IDB byelaws. A member of the public had been questioned over this action but the police have decided that they will not be prosecuting for criminal damage.

The Clerk has discussed the matter with the Boards newly appointed legal advisors and has been informed that the estimated cost of prosecution is in the region of £3k.

T Bradford proposed, D Ayers seconded that ‘the Parrett IDB subject to legal advice proceed with a prosecution for damage to a Slabgate Sluice which is contrary to Boards byelaws, and for the Chairman and Vice Chairman to have delegated authority to extend the prosecution and proceed as necessary.’ All in favour.

 

  1. Other Somerset County Council groups with IDB participation: NWS advised that the Somerset Water Management Partnership (SWMP) will in future have an Executive Group as well the normal Steering Group.

SUDs Approval Body (SAB) – This role will be undertaken by the Lead Local Flood Authority, Somerset County Council however it has not yet been confirmed, following a delay from central government.

Task Force – no further work is envisaged.

Strategic Flood Management Partnership – reduced in size and recast as an officers group and under the SWMP umbrella. It will be called the Flood Risk Advisory Group.

 

 

 

  1. Special Correspondence: None at this time.
  1. Any Other Business: NWS advised that a technical seminar is to be held on 06 June 2014 to discuss a Parrett Barrier, however as yet, the IDB has not been invited to attend. P Maltby and B Rowe expressed an interest in being involved. (Post meeting note – an invitation has now been received)

PSH advised that Network Rail has a flood recovery team working to review culverts etc.

IDS advised that N Harrison is working to develop a scheme to protect Thorny. Members were advised that funding may be available from SCC, the Agency as well as residents of Thorney.  

The Clerk was asked to arrange a meeting for residents and landowners in the Kings Sedgemoor and Allermoor area whose land has been impacted by the high flows over Allermoor Spillway. It is understood that work is currently being undertaken to the spillway. There was an expectation from members that the Agency and Black & Veatch representatives are invited to attend.

The Chairman was asked if the Board has a Public Relations team within its employ; NWS advised that good media attention occurred during the flood event with newspaper and radio interviews as well as television interviews, particularly after creation of a 10 point plan, which was subsequently taken up by ADA and reissued in a modified form as a national document.  The plan has highlighted Somerset to the extent that visits have taken place by the Prime Minister, Prince Charles, the Secretary of State as well as other MP’s. James Winslade was congratulated by the Chairman for remaining in the media spotlight.

NWS advised that due to the Action Plan, the Board is a partner in the management structure and so any media statements would need to reflect the group position and positive.

 

  1. Date of next Board meetings:

 

Re-use of River Silt Committee              24 April 2014, 2.15pm

Finance & Governance                           20 May 2014, 2.15pm

Full Board                                             17 June 2014, 2.15pm

Full Board and inspection tour               22 July 2014, all day

Finance & Governance                           16 September 2014, 2.15pm

Employment & Machinery                      23 September 2014, 2.15pm

Parrett Management Committee             07 October 2014, 2.15pm

 

 

The Chairman thanked members for their attendance, and closed the meeting at 6.02pm