Minutes of a meeting of the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium Management Committee held at 1 Church Street, Highbridge on 18 February 2014, 10.30am.

Chairman: Mr Peter Maltby

  1. 1. Attendance and apologies: as per register appended.
  2. 2. Items additional to the agenda: N Stevens (NWS) – 10 point plan, Staffing and RFCC update.
  3. 3. Declarations of interest: None at this time.
  4. 4. Minutes of meeting of 04 December 2013: (appended) having been previously circulated, the minutes were signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record of the meeting held.
  5. 5. Matters arising: Item 11 Agency withdrawal of maintenance procedures: NWS advised that Agency procedures relating to the withdrawal of inland maintenance have not been made available to the Board. R Adlam advised that the Agency approach will be to opt for minimal maintenance within budgets rather than withdrawal of maintenance.
  6. 6. Chairman’s introduction: (appended) the Chairman (PCM) requested that his report is disseminated to all Parrett IDB members for information purposes.

Much discussion was held on the content of the introduction; the following list is not exhaustive:

Pressure to be kept on MP’s

Publicity to be used appropriately when necessary

IDB to remain united with Local Authorities and other public bodies during the flood events

Although in extreme flooding situation, the Boards should remain mindful of landowners within the raised water level areas

The Prime Minister has been quoted as stating that the rivers will be dredged as soon as practicable

The public consultation period for the 20 year plan will commence on 24th February with D Rogerson MP

  1. 7. Finance Report: (appended) in S Gee’s absence NWS briefed members on the current financial position and income to expenditure to year end. NWS advised that at year end the Board will generate an approx surplus of £20k to be allocated back to the individual Boards.

North Somerset Levels agreement has yet to be signed, although invoicing for Board costs has commenced. I Sturdy (IDS) advised that the transition of G Oliver is progressing well, however planning issues remain a challenge, due to the magnitude of development within the area.

  1. 8. Engineering programme update: IDS advised that due to current ground conditions there are limitations to the work that can be completed. Favourable Conditions Projects (FC) planned work is ready to go to tender and /or designed and prepared for undertaking as ground conditions permit.

Boards programme of works: Parrett health & safety improvements – to be completed, Axe Brue health & safety improvements works completed and working well.

Medium Term Plan (Grant in Aid) indicative allocation is £50k for both Boards to extend health & safety of structures for 3 years. IDS advised that the FC allocation could not be utilised for flood alleviation works as the Grant in Aid for FC is a specific funding stream. NWS advised that revenue and capital streams are available for reclaiming costs incurred with flooding events. Each however has to come from the appropriate funding source; capital from the Agency and revenue from the Special Levy bodies.

Members were advised that when flood water recedes the recent FC works will prove of great benefit  for water level management and conveyance to the main river.

Members expressed gratitude to officers for their attendance and oration at recent meetings.

  1. Staffing: NWS advised that Danielle Charlton (nee Johnson) (DJC) has resigned her post to undertake PhD studies in London. Main duties undertaken by DJC are the co-ordination of planning responses, correspondence, and reporting on consultations, as well as assisting with GIS. A replacement would need to be efficient, energetic and appropriately qualified.

T Bradford proposed A Franks seconded ‘that the SDBC Management Chairman and Vice Chairman with the Clerk and Principal Engineer prepare a report to be discussed at the Salaries Committee meeting of 18 March 2014.’ All in favour RESOLUTION 1

9a. Temporary staff contracts: NWS advised members that temporary staff contracts are due to expire at year end, however in consideration of flooding events experienced, it may be beneficial to consider extending the contracts. After discussion C Williams proposed R Adlam seconded ‘that the SDBC Management Committee extend two temporary staff contracts for a minimum three month term to cover additional works incurred with justification of the Boards work programme with costs to be produced for future meetings and delegated powers awarded to the SDBC Chairman and Vice Chairman to extend the contracts if necessary prior to a scheduled meeting.’ Vote: 11 for, 0 against, 1 abstention; motion carried RESOLUTION 2

Bath & West Project funding: members were advised that the Bath & West mission statement has been re-written to encompass Government funding of the Parrett and Tone dredging works and a refocus on water level managment. The fund raising project intends to provide £100k per annum for 10 years for specific projects; potential projects will be required to bid to the Society for funds, such as pilot schemes (Brue dredging project) and personnel funding (extra costs incurred with flood events).

Parrett Expenditors: members were advised that the Agency has requested assistance of the Expenditors as and when necessary within flood affected areas. R Vaux, N Lockyer and the machine operators may be required; P Ham is investigating whether staff costs can be re-charged.

  1. Accommodation update: Cllr C Williams gave apologies for non-attendance of Cllr Smout and himself at the meeting of the Property Sub-Committee held on 14 February 2014.

NWS advised that the architect has applied to Sedgemoor District Council for planning permission for changes to the building; the shop frontage change to a wall with windows and rear external frontage (Bank Street) to incorporate a roller shutter door.

Upon inspection a previously unknown cellar was located beneath the shop; ventilation and a trapdoor access will be installed to provide future options to the Board.

Following an extensive selection process it was agreed that tenders will be invited from five contractors: Woodland Building Contractors Ltd, Barrett & Canniford Ltd, Melhuish & Saunders Ltd, Harris Bros & Collard Ltd and D’Ovidio Bros Ltd.

Members were advised that the architect is working on a fixed fee and that building works costs are estimated to be in the region of £200k, however members were assured that the building will be fit for purpose and allow an increase of staff if required in the future.

The Sale of 1 Church Street will be completed when the Board relocates to Bradbury House, circa September 2014.

  1. Agreement with North Somerset Levels IDB: NWS advised that a final draft agreement is available for members to peruse, Members did not want to scrutinise the Agreement again but would ask that B Watkis undertakes a further inspection to give final approval.

(As item 7) Members were advised that the transition of G Oliver is progressing well, however planning issues remain a challenge, due to the magnitude of development within the area; IDS has recommended that NSLIDB elect a Development Sub-Committee. IDS is assisting with the initial transition to support new strategy integration.

  1. Publicity and information for ratepayers and members of the public: Ashford’s have been re-employed to assist with a press release of the Board’s 10 point plan; the press release and a position statement regarding taking over responsibility for main rivers from the Agency were provided for members (appended). Discussion was held on the future role of the Board; NWS advised that the Board does not have funding, staff or plant availability to provide the emergency response currently being supplied by the Agency; however the Minister’s Action Plan may provide a funding stream for a public sector co-operation agreement to allow additional maintenance works to be undertaken on main rivers. Members were in agreement that the Board cannot take on the responsibility for main rivers. Cllr Fraser opined that disaggregation is fundamental to the future of IDB’s.

12.10pm ME Wall left the meeting with apologies to the Chairman

Discussion was held on the challenge of disseminating relevant information to ratepayers, such as flooding updates from the Agency, as the majority of ratepayers have not provided an email address; members were encouraged to ask their local ratepayers to contact the office with an email address.

  1. Incorporation of ADA: (appended) correspondence from Dr J Venables advised that ADA would be changing from an un-incorporated body to a company limited by guarantee at 1st April 2014, with a meeting to formally wind up the present ADA on 19 March 2014. At a previous meeting it was agreed that T Bradford be elected as Director to represent the South West.

T Bradford advised that ADA representatives: J Venables, H Cator and himself, supported by P Bide and T Vickers will be giving oral evidence to the EFRA Committee at its inquiry into dredging, on  26th February; ADA will be submitting written evidence to support the oral evidence. H Cator will be invited to view current flooding in Somerset prior to the committee meeting.

  1. Salaries Committee meeting and representatives: NWS advised that a Salaries Committee meeting will be held at 1 Church Street on Tuesday 18 March. It was agreed that representatives will be P Maltby, J Fear, T Bradford, R Adlam, M Winslade, Cllr A Gilling and Cllr C Williams.
  2. Any other business: NWS advised that ADA has adapted the Board’s 10 point plan and produced a national document. Members were advised that at the Full Board meeting of the Parrett IDB held on 28 January the plan was discussed which concluded that although the list is not written in a specific order, it was agreed that item 10 should become item 3 to allow a ‘Phase One’, with the remaining items following as ‘Phase Two’. It was agreed that as the main rivers have a limited capacity, point one should read maximise the conveyance of the lowland rivers, rather than increase the capacity of the lowland rivers.

Members were advised that upgrading pumping stations would be included within item 5 – promote flood resilience and property level protection in the whole catchment. Members concurred with the statement.

Minister’s 20 Year Plan: NWS advised that a executive working group is meeting on a weekly basis to produce the plan which will be incorporating aspects of the Board’s 10 point plan, which includes the following themes: dredging and river management, land management, infrastructure resilience, community and business resilience, and economic, funding and future governance; each plan has three phases: immediate action, medium term plan (2-5 year) and long term plan (over 5 years).

The dredging and river management plan includes 18 items of potential work that was first identified in the Somerset Levels and Moors Review of Flood Management Practices 2001, which was agreed as a framework of desirable work. The proposed dredging work will total a length of 8km; 4km upstream of Burrowbridge on the Tone and 4km downstream to remove 230,000 cubic metres.

Members were advised that a Defra team has been involved with the plan, and that a public consultation period will commence on 24 February 2014.

Cllr Williams proposed R Coombes seconded ‘that a meeting of the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium Management Committee with deputies is called for a briefing opportunity of the first draft of the 20 year plan prior to submission to the Minister on 7 March 2014.’ All in favour RESOLUTION 3

Members were advised that Regional Flood and Coastal Committee will be holding an extra ordinary emergency meeting on Friday 21 February 2014.

Members were advised that flow gauging has been taking place in the Brue for the purpose of data gathering to allow verification for modelling and case presentation when required.

A request was made for information updates to be forwarded by email to Junction 24 for posting on their noticeboards to provide additional public awareness. The Assistant Clerk was instructed to include Junction 24 within the public dissemination list.

  1. Date of next meeting: Tuesday 18 March, 10.30am Salaries Committee

Tuesday 30 September, 10.30am SDBC Management Committee

There being no other business, the Chairman thanked members for their attendance and closed the meeting at 13.12pm.