Minutes of the Parrett Internal Drainage Board Meeting held at Westonzoyland Community Centre on Tuesday 11 June 2013 at 2.15pm

 1.         Attendance & Apologies as per Register – (appended).  P Maltby (PCM) introduced and welcomed Mr Andrew Turner, SCC Area Highways Manger.

2.         Opportunity for members of the public to address the Board meeting: Mr Hallett, Nature Reserve owner expressed concern for shearing of the bank at Park Brook and Haymoor Rhyne, which he feels is causing the watercourse to become wider and reducing the depth of the water. Mr Hallett is also concerned with rubbish at Chapel Road; it was agreed that Phil Ham (PSH) will meet with Mr Hallett on site to discuss these matters, and report at the next meeting.

3.         Items additional to the agenda:

4.         Declarations of Interests: None.

5.         Minutes of the Previous Meeting held on 29 January 2013: (appended) Item 12 Engineering Report Mr Quick Chilthorne Domer should read Chilton Trinity. With this one amendment the minutes were signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record of the meeting held.

6.         Matters Arising: (Item 7) Winter Birds – N Stevens (NWS) advised that Natural England has been invited to attend a future meeting of the Board to discuss winter birds in relation to the Somerset Levels.

(Item 12:d) Saltmoor Culverts – members were advised that a full and accurate survey is to be undertaken to determine the silt and bed levels as well as culvert information.

7.         Draft Minutes of the Finance & Governance meeting 21 May 2013: (appended) for information only. Item 7 North East Bridgwater (NEB) and Hallam; NWS advised that settlement has been reached with Hallam for legal agreements costs and invoices for fees, and that negotiations are on-going with Morrison’s and Alletsons regarding fees and contribution to fees.  A Task and Finish group has been set up to review practice and exercise for future staff, consultant and legal costs.

Members raised concern for SDC’s planning process with regard to Drainage Board responses to planning consultations; NWS advised that lessons had been learnt by all concerned with the NEB site and that a paper entitled ”Proposed changes to Board procedures for recovering development related costs”  was approved by the Finance and Governance Committee.

8.         Approval of accounts and annual return to the Audit Commission – appended.  Due the absence of S Gee, NWS gave an overview of the circulated account and annual return documents which were discussed in detail at the Finance & Governance Sub Committee.  Proposed D Spicer seconded J Winslade ‘that the Parrett IDB accounting statements for year ending 31 March 2013 be adopted by the Board and that the Somerset Drainage Board Consortium accounts for year ending 31 March 2013 are approved as submitted.’  All in favour. RESOLUTION 1.

NWS advised that by reviewing the eight statements on the Annual Governance statement the Board is able to ensure that there is a sound system of internal control in place, and that the statements had been scrutinised in detail at the Finance and Governance meeting. Proposed T Bradford seconded B Rowe ‘that the Annual Governance Statement be approved and signed by the Clerk and Chairman on completion of ‘yes’ in answer to the eight statements.’ All in favour. RESOLUTION 2.

9.         Somerset County Council highways drainage works – Andrew Turner, SCC Area Highways Manager: Mr Turner gave a verbal presentation to members that SCC Highways has a new approach to cleaning gullies, and that a risk based system is being introduced which takes into consideration public reports of flooding and known wet areas, Agency data, media reports, local knowledge and parish information by way of Parish Council surveys. Mr Turner confirmed that where highway surface water flooding occurs in recognised flood risk areas the roadside gullies will be cleaned annually, whereas less susceptible areas will have a longer cleaning cycle, although service requests and other reports will be addressed accordingly.

Synopsis of other discussion topics:

  • the responsibility for roadside ditch maintenance; Mr Turner opined that in common law it is the responsibility of the adjacent landowner to clean the roadside ditch. NWS suggested that where there is a hedge on the field side, the landowner would need to be on the highway to clean which might be seen as unreasonable; in response Mr Turner replied that it is reasonable to expect landowners to maintain their own infrastructure although discretionary decisions are taken by SCC Highways when necessary. SCC Highways do not have an enforcement procedure for landowners who do not maintain the roadside ditches; function and purpose is used as a scale by SCC Highways to determine if they will undertake maintenance in individual cases.
  • Closure of the A361 during the flooding of 2012 was discussed in relation to the A39 being used as an alternative route, which has proven to be detrimental to roads and infrastructure; Mr Turner advised that SCC will consider restoration possibilities, and confirmed that traffic management will be re-structured for future closures of the A361.
  • Possible lack of communication between SCC Highways and water authorities with regards to combined sewerage systems; Mr Turner confirmed that combined systems are the responsibility of water authorities, with gullies being the responsibility of SCC Highways. Culverts under the highways are generally the responsibility of SCC Highways.
  • Private properties wishing to pipe a roadside ditch, should obtain consent from SCC (Clerk – outside of IDB areas only), as all ditches are classified as watercourses; the pipe would remain the responsibility of the property holder. If a piped watercourse is not functioning correctly, SCC Highways may use enforcement procedures as necessary.
  • Specific requests from members for information regarding villages will be forwarded to Mr Turner for review.

The Chairman thanked Mr Turner for his attendance and candour in answering the questions from members. Members concurred with the sentiment.

10.       Engineering Report – appended.

a)                Maintenance Report (appended) the report as circulated was accepted by members; Phil Ham (PSH) gave a brief overview of the report.

b)                Engineers Report (appended) report accepted as circulated.

Saltmoor Culverts: IDS advised that following investigations carried out earlier in the year, a scheme proposal for Saltmoor is being developed; however a system will not be introduced which creates separate WLM areas from the main drain level.

Wemdon Improvement Scheme:  Reedmoor Rhyne – IDS advised that observation has indicated that flooding occurs along Church Road; the scheme will install a drop kerb as a spillway weir downstream of the Millennium Bridge to reduce localised flooding in the road and utilise the available capacity in the rhyne system.

Butlins, Minehead: members were advised that outline approval has been granted to site new chalets, subject to an adequate surface water solution, with a condition to complete works to the moat.

Parrett and Tone Dredging: (as per report Item 5) IDS and NWS recommended that officers  meet with independent consultants to investigate alternative approaches to dredging part of the Parrett and Tone, using innovative methods that may be more economical than the current Agency approach. Future discussion with the Agency and within the Board should consider the Board’s involvement in the contract works.. A Fraser proposed, J Healey seconded ‘that the Parrett IDB Officers meet with independent consultants to investigate sustainable innovative methods of dredging for the Rivers Parrett and Tone to a maximum of £5,000.’ All in favour. RESOLUTION 3

16.45 A Fraser and J Taylor left the meeting

National Grid: IDS advised that the third consultation is being considered. The Board has an interest in access routes that need to be constructed to allow erection of pylons and may lead to alterations to viewed rhynes and ditches; it was agreed that a working group would be set up to discuss this matter in greater detail. Members to sit on the National Grid Working Group are: R Barrington and David Spicer.

16.50 P Palmer left the meeting

11.       Full Board 23 July 2013: due to the ADA Demonstration and St German’s pumping station visit and Severn and Wales branch of ADA AGM taking place in July it was agreed that the meeting scheduled in July would be cancelled. The Assistant Clerk was instructed to publicise this action by placing a notice on the website as well as in the foyer of 1 Church Street, Highbridge. Members not in attendance will be notified either by email or post.

12.       Special Correspondence with correspondence list: the correspondence list as circulated was noted by members.

NWS advised that the Board wrote to all the local MP’s earlier in the year and that responses had been received; all MP correspondence is available from the Clerk on request.

Rate Reminder letter (appended) The Assistant Clerk advised members that at the F&G meeting it was agreed to revise the content of reminder letters to encourage settlement of outstanding rates.  The content of the appended letter was approved for use, and will be disseminated in due course.

13.       Any other business: The Chairman advised members that he will be unobtainable for approximately five weeks; during his absence the Vice-Chairman Mr T Bradford will be the point of contact.

The Chairman and Clerk were thanked for their work regarding dredging, and were asked to continue their efforts through the summer.

Burrowbridge Parish Council extended their gratitude for the attendance at a recent meeting by IDS and NWS; the meeting found the Board’s display informative and helpful.

Middlezoy: concern was raised regarding water levels at Chedzoy Clyse; the gauge board may have been moved; IDS was asked to investigate.

R Barrington conveyed the gratitude of landowners within Currymoor to the Chairman and staff for their efforts and work in the area, which has given encouragement to landowners on the moor.

Members were advised that the Severn & Wales branch of ADA will hold its AGM at Thornbury Golf Centre on Wednesday 24 July 2013, at which the Clerk has been invited to make a presentation regarding the flooding of 2012 and its consequences to landowners and the Board.

Members were advised that Mrs P Cook (PJC) has tendered her resignation to resign her employment at the end of July 2013. PJC is currently the third signatory on the Board’s bank account; it was recommended that I Sturdy replaces PJC as signatory. B Rowe proposed, D Spicer seconded ‘that I Sturdy becomes a signatory on the Parrett Drainage Board bank accounts with N Stevens and S Gee and that Mrs P Cook is withdrawn as a signatory on the Board’s accounts.’ Vote: unanimous. RESOLUTION 4

14.       Dates of next Board Meetings:

  • Finance & Governance               17 September 2013
  • Employment & Machinery          24 September 2013
  • Consortium Management           03 October 2013
  • Management Com                     08 October 2013
  • Full Board                                 26 November 2013


There being no other business the Chairman thanked members and officer for their attendance and closed the meeting at 17.10pm