Minutes of the Meeting of the Parrett Internal Drainage Board Management Committee

held at 1 Church Street, Highbridge on Tuesday 8 October 2013 at 2.15pm

 1.     Attendance and apologies – as register appended

2.     Declarations of Interest – none

3.     Minutes of the Meeting held on 16 April 2013 – having been previously circulated were signed as a true and correct record of the meeting held.  All in favour

4.     Matters Arising – Phil Ham (PH) reported that the cleaning had been completed at Dunster and the culvert channels had been de-silted.

Joy Thorne is retiring at the end of November and will be replaced by Richard Vaux who is currently shadowing Joy.

Tony Bradford asked if the maintenance work had been carried out at Silver Fish Corner.  PH reported there was not a problem in that area.  It was agreed that the area should be brought into view and members would visit the site with Phil Ham.

Andrew Gilling (AG) asked with regard to item 11 whether Richard Benyon’s replacement would be invited to visit the area.  PM reported that at the SDBC Management Committee meeting held recently members had discussed contacting the Prime Minister and Defra ministers.  A good approach would be to contact the new Defra ministers and invite them here and make them aware of the problems.  TB advised that Jean Venables had been unable to get either of the ministers to the ADA conference in London.  It had also been suggested that the pictorial presentation that had been used at the Bath and West Dairy Show be taken to the Full Consortium meeting and also to take it to the ADA Conference on 13 November 2013.

TB asked for an update on flailing of the South Bank of the KSD.  PH reported that he had been informed that it was up to the tenant to carry out the work.  PH would make further investigations and keep TB informed.  TB reported that he had heard from Natural England that the Taunton EA office would be closing and moving back to Bradney Depot.


  1. Finance: Overview of expenditure and budget – Stephen Gee (SG) had circulated a summary report of expenditure including maintenance and engineering works.  Rate payments were still being received and summonses had been issued for amounts over £25 with a court date of 21 October.  103 summonses had been issued between the two Boards; 50 on the Axe Brue and 53 on the Parrett.  Any people owing an amount under £25 had also been written too which had produced some positive results.  Nick Stevens (NS) had been involved in the queries arising from the summonses and advised that there are errors in the system.  Unfortunately people have not received their rates demand for various reasons, they move or pass away or sell their land but we are not informed so the information is not always correct.  A number of costs will have to be waived due to these reasons but these will be covered by the costs that are recovered.  Members agreed that the Clerk should continue in this way.  PM asked for comments.  TB suggested that the Expenditors call on outstanding ratepayers which would enable owners to keep information up to date.  Board members could also be asked to visit landowners in their catchment.

SG reported he had started looking at budgets for 2014/15 and that the Consortium Management Committee had approved the budget for 2014/15 which will generate no increase to the boards.  There will be some adjustments associated with the costs of moving to Bradbury House.  He asked for any information that will need to be included that will help him with the maintenance and engineering costs.  David Ayers (DA) asked if the maintenance works could be carried out at a different time of year.  PH advised that this would cause some issues but would look into it.


  1. Engineering Report – Maintenance report, Parrett and Tone dredging and Improvement Work & Favourable Conditions Projects. Lyng Cutting – PH had circulated a maintenance report – appended.  The new tractor is working well but it may need a creeper gear box fitted if the new silt pump requires it.  When the new silt pump is fitted the machinery will be tested.  James Winslade (JW) parts of Saltmoor have been cleaned by the EA but areas have been left untouched.  These issues will be raised at a meeting with the EA in November.  TB asked for an update on the threatening behaviour by landowners.  PH reported that the landowner was now satisfied but PM felt that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and needs pursuing to avoid it in the future.  PH confirmed that maintenance had been completed in the Dunster area, C&W and Stockland finished apart from a couple of maize fields, B&P Pawlett Meads completed and the Middle of Northmoor completed.  Working with Network Rail to clear alongside the railway line.

IDS reported on the Parrett and Tone dredging and had been informed by the EA that men and machinery would be on site on Thursday to start work on desilting pinch points.  Landowners in the area had been very co-operative.  Different methods are being discussed for other locations.  Dutch contractors are being considered who have estimated a cost of £100,000 which includes £27,000 mobilisation costs.  This would be part of the £300,000 that has been identified for the work.   After the Bath and West presentation IDS has been contacted by the One Show on BBC, but no further progress on this at the moment.

IDS showed the current version of the works programme and reported that an updated version is being prepared.  At present the smaller structures are generally being dealt with under the H&S projects.  An application has been made to the EA for an extension to the H&S projects for a further 3 years.  The Favourable Conditions project is coming to an end with only just under £300,000 identified within the medium term plan next year. TB asked if the tilting weir was necessary at Parchey.  IDS advised that this was a grant aided scheme in accordance with the original plans.  JW reported that there was a bund in a side channel at Elson’s Clyce which needs removing.  The occupier had requested this previously, PH /IDS will investigate the matter.

Lyng Cutting – NS asked members for a decision on the matter.  The bridge over the Lyng Cutting is a British Rail Residual Board bridge and is understrength, to avoid closure or weight restriction the county council want to put a prop in the middle of the spillway.  A resume had been sent out by the Clerk to those people involved who were not happy with the proposals. PM suggested that no objection was made as long as the flow is not interrupted.  Members agreed.

NS explained a part of the paper showing the rhynes in the Creech St Michael and Ham area being taken into and out of view.  PH would be visiting the area the following day with members. The proposal is to take into view the roadside ditches that link into the Board’s maintained rhynes.  PM asked that the local landowner be forewarned of the Board’s intention.  NS proposed that the rhyne is maintained this year and the following year it would be taken out of view.  He also asked that the roadside ditches at Ham are maintained this year.  Proposed: Roger Coombes, Seconded: James Winslade “that the proposed variations to the viewed rhyne network are accepted”.  All in favour.  RESOLUTION 1


  1. Development Control (IDS) – IDS reported that the Hinkley Point development is moving very slowly.

The National Grid connection is a separate issue and is ongoing.  Good details have been received regarding locations and access.


  1. Future flood risk management and drainage funding in Somerset – NS advised that the Board needs to give serious thought to this issue.  A long term approach needs to be devised.  The Board’s policy should be reviewed every 5 years and has not been done since 2008.  More funds need to be raised to be able to maintain at the present standard to avoid flooding issues in the future.   JW suggested that a levy was put on each householder.  PM felt this is a political problem and MPs should be contacted.  TB suggested a temporary increase in levy.  NS will prepare a paper to be discussed at a later meeting.


  1. Maintenance specifications – NS circulated a paper showing the maintenance specification that is used by the Expenditors and contractors – appended.  This was brought to the meeting to allow consideration as to whether standards and their resulting costs are appropriate to the current and future levels of funding available.  PM said the standard of maintenance should not vary and there is no reason to change.  IDS clarified that all the specifications shown are used depending on the watercourse.  PM clarified that de-silting would be done as and when needed as agreed at the last meeting.


  1. Environment Agency recent operational work and asset transfers – Staff had attended a meeting with the Agency to discuss the EA work.  An investigation had been carried out after the death of a machine operator in another part of the country who had been operating a drag line on the edge of a watercourse.  The EA are working out a safe system of work for their equipment which has cut down the maintenance being carried out.

NS reported that officers had identified a methodology that may be successful for taking over operation of assets in some circumstances.  IDS confirmed that the approach would be the Board would maintain and operate the structures but would not take on the responsibility of replacing or repairing them.


  1. Variations to Viewed Rhyne network – dealt with above.


  1. Full Board meeting of 26 November, structure of the meeting – NS reported that Anne Fraser had asked if the meeting could be restructured with not too much detail on specific sites.  TB felt that all the items on the Agenda do need full discussion and that members would not attend if the structure was to change.  PM asked that members put forward their suggestions.


  1. Inclusion of an additional Vice Chairman on the Board structure – At a previous meeting TB had suggested the inclusion of a second Vice Chairman.  He felt that if either the Chairman or himself being the Vice Chairman were not able to attend a Deputy Vice Chairman could take the chair.  Proposed: Tony Bradford, Seconded: David Spicer “that a deputy Vice Chairman is included in the Board’s structure”.  Proposed: Tony Bradford, Seconded: David Spicer “that David Ayers is appointed as Deputy Vice Chairman”.  All in favour.  RESOLVED 2
  2. Relocation of SDBC offices – The Axe Brue Board has taken possession of a property in Market Street, Highbridge and completion was due to take place on 11 October 2013.  A Project Manager had been taken on to oversee the work and the move.  The building is bigger and would allow most meetings to be on the ground floor.  There is also a lift.  An offer has been received on 1 Church Street; the buyer is keen to take on the offices and the shop.


  1. Somerset Water Management Partnership & Task Force Initiative – NS advised a meeting is to be held in November.  The main topic is to set up a task force which is moving very slowly, a high profile chairman is being sought.  2 members (one from each Board) can attend together with the Clerk.


  1. Somerset Strategic Flood Management Partnership – SUDs Approval Body (NWS) – DA queried the difference between this group and the one above. NS confirmed that the Somerset Strategic Flood Management Partnership is the group for flood risk management operating authorities only.  The SWMP is for all bodies with an interest in the water environment in Somerset.  The SuDS approval body is due to come into place in April 2014.  The county council have been advised that the Board is interested in continuing to work with them especially as an approving body for work outside its area.


  1. Meeting schedule for 2014 (enc) – Members agreed the dates and would take the calendar to the full meeting for approval.

18.  Special Correspondence and meetings – NS advised that Wellings and Deepings would be visiting in June 2014 and would be invited to inspect sites and structures.

A group known as MLG (Major Landowners Group) was visiting the area; Phil Brewin was taking them to Pawlett Hams, Burrow Mump and a number of SSSI sites across Somerset.  The visit is being hosted by Natural England.

19.  Any Other Business – AG reported that Paul Christensen (Chairman of Natural England) would be attending the Young Farmers Association Annual Dinner and Dance in April 2014.


NS updated members regarding Mr Quick at Chilton Trinity.  Information had been sent to him but he has not replied.  NS asked if notice could be served.  PH asked that Mr Quick is written to, to give him a time scale, if he does not reply then notice would be served to remove the bund.

20.  Date of Next Meeting