Minutes of the Parrett Board Finance & Governance Sub Committee Meeting held at 1 Church Street, Highbridge on Tuesday 04 November 2014 at 2.15 pm.

Chairman: Mr D Spicer

The Chairman welcomed members to the meeting.

Attendance & Apologies for Absence: as per register appended.  N Stevens and Ian Dyer

  1. Items Additional to the Agenda: (1) Staffing
  2. (2) Budget to include extra funding for flooding schemes
  3. these items would be discussed later in the agendaDeclarations of Interest: none
  4. Minutes of the Sub Committee Meeting held on 16 September 2014: (appended) having been
  5. previously circulated the Chairman sign the minutes as a true and correct record of the meeting
  6. All in favour.
  • Matters Arising: Item 5 – Members asked that the payment for tidewatch (approximately £11k) is highlighted and an invoice sent to the Environment Agency together with an invoice for repairs to the telemetry system.
  • Banking arrangement and facilities – Stephen Gee (SMG) advised that tendering for banking services has not yet been undertaken due to other priorities such as the Somerset Rivers Board.
  • Item 11 – Slabgate Sluice – Peter Maltby (PCM) advised members that there had been further problems at this site. Court action was continuing from the previous case in December.  It was confirmed that the Parrett byelaws were approved and sealed.
  • Item 6 – Malcolm Young (MY) asked whether the Board carried a Waste Carriers Licence.
  • Iain Sturdy (IDS) advised that the Public Sector Co-Operation Agreement (PSCOAs) had not been finalised as yet. SMG had been in discussion with the Insurance Company who had advised to accept the details in principle.  PCM asked that Jean Venables is contacted to see how other Boards are dealing with this issue and he would be meeting with Nick Gupta later in the week and would discuss it with him.  IDS would be seeking modification to the agreement.
  • Item 12 – A review of the services provided to the North Somerset Levels IDB (NSLIDB) had been carried out and it was identified that an extra member of staff is required for development control. An interview was to take place on Thursday with a view to the new staff member starting as soon as possible.  This had been agreed at the SDBC Management Committee meeting with nil cost to the Board.
  • Bradbury House – SMG advised that as much of the cost as possible of the refurbishment would be capitalised and there would not be a major cost to the Parrett IDB.

Governance –

Ref 17 : SMG confirmed that legal requirements are all up to date and the accounts have been published on the website.

Ref 18 ; The external auditor Chris Gunn from SWAP had carried out an audit and was happy with his findings.

Tony Bradford (TB) had recently visited Welland and Deepings and was impressed by how they manage their Board with 5.5 staff and how they set the rules for developers’ fees.  Staff includes 1 senior engineer, 1 junior engineer 1 admin person. He requested that a group of members make a visit to Welland and Deepings to make a comparison. Peter Maltby asked that this is discussed at the SDBC management meeting.  TB asked that a note is made of his concerns regarding staff levels. (Note Welland and Deepings is a Board of 32,400 ha and only has 70 water level management structures. The Parrett IDB has over 200.)

Proposed: Malcolm Young, Seconded Peter Maltby “that this item is taken to the SDBC meeting with the possibility of a visit to Welland and Deepings.  RESOLVED.  All in favour.

Drainage Rate Update – SMG reported that there is still approximately £12k outstanding.  TB reported that a landowner had spoken to him regarding his land changes.  SMG advised that all ratepayers will be sent details of their land occupancy as a new system is being set up.  A newsletter will be going out detailing methods of payment which will include direct debit details.

A ratepayer had contacted the office refusing to pay the charges for court fees.  The Chairman felt he should pay in full.

Proposed: Peter Maltby, Seconded: Tony Bradford “that where charges have been incurred for the recovery of outstanding rates court costs should not be waived”.  All in favour  RESOLVED.

Ref 19 – Covered in 17 above

Ref 20 – No changes have been made to the Standing Orders and Guidelines.  SG is working on an Internal Controls document which is a list of every task that is carried out within the office.

Ref 21 – There were no changes to the Freedom of Information Act

Delegated Authority –

Ref 24 – Report on budgetary and financial reporting procedures – appended – SMG explained the figures include the sale of the Tractor to the Axe Brue Board.  The figures also include the cost of the Thorney Ring Bank scheme which at the moment are amounting to approximately £150k.  An order has been received from Somerset County Council (SCC); the first invoice to them will be issued shortly.  The total to be received from SCC will be £19k.  SMG confirmed that he had received a purchase order for this amount and IDS also had been in touch with Sarah Diacano from SCC.  PCM praised the work that had been carried out.

The Bank interest rates are now reduced and SMG is seeking higher interest rates.

Budget for 2015/16 shows a shortfall due to the loss of £28k bank interest and a charge to the Parrett of £26k to cover Andy Sherwood and Ellie Fletcher as they are no longer funded by the Favourable Condition project.

PCM stated that if the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) comes into being then the IDB does not want to be tied down to the existing budget.  He suggested that a figure is included in each area for a particular scheme.  TB suggested that the work is carried out under a PSCA.  IDS and SMG would discuss a budget.Policy and Strategy – Ref 5 and 27 – Business risk management – SMG reported that the SRA had been added to the register and the implications that it carries.

  1. Any Other Business – Mike Phillips is retiring at the end of December and TB asked if an award could be arranged. It was decided that he would be asked to attend the Board meeting on 24 November 2014 and a gift would be organised.
  2. PCM asked members to include the correct mileage on the attendance sheet.
  3. Members again discussed their concerns regarding the SRA and PCM advised that the County Council had made a press statement today and he had been asked to prepare a statement on behalf of the IDBs and the SDBC stating their support of the SRA but assurance needs to be given that “proper, secure funding is in place to finance it”.
  4. IDS advised that a newsletter was being compiled and would like to include a link to the Cabinet paper and the questions and answers.
  5. The Chairman asked for the riparian maintenance section to be highlighted and the section regarding the winter pen is also to be made clearer.

Date of Next Meeting – Tuesday 13 January 2014

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

and closed the meeting at 16.40pm