Minutes of a meeting of the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium Management Committee held at 1 Church Street, Highbridge on Tuesday 30 September 2014, 10.30am.

Chairman: Mr Peter Maltby

  1. Attendance and apologies: as per register appended.
  2. Items additional to the agenda: none
  3. Minutes of meeting held on 18 February 2014: having previously been circulated were signed as a true and correct record
  4. Matters arising: Peter Maltby (PM) asked for a minute’s silence in memory of George Chinnock who had recently passed away.
  5. Notes of an Extra-Ordinary Briefing meeting of the SDBC Management Committee and the Parrett  Internal Drainage Board held on Friday 28 February 2014 for information only
  6. Chairman’s report (appended)

Brian Rowe raised his concern that there had been no mention of the board in any press releases relating to the number of meetings that had taken place with the County Council, the Environment Agency and the Drainage Board regarding the 20 year flood action plan. Members felt that it was very difficult to keep people informed.  Nick Stevens (NS) reminded members that the agreed protocol was that all press releases would be fed through the County Council and the Board had agreed to this.  This naturally had led to a SCC bias however they were the Project Lead and were investing large sums of money in infrastructure projects well in excess of IDB expenditure. Chris Williams (CW) asked that concerns are raised at the next meeting which was to be held the next day.  Iain Sturdy (IS) commented that the press agreement was based on trust and co-operation and reported that the Thorney press release had been drafted many times seeking a greater emphasis on IDB involvement.

  1. Finance Report: (appended) – Stephen Gee (SG) explained the figures and highlighted that the renovation of Bradbury House was slightly behind schedule for renovation works however the project had taken a considerable time to reach contract award stage and therefore the organisation would incur costs for a further 9 months on rent, business rates and service charges above budget.  Consortium budget setting for 2015/2016 (NWS/SMG) – appended.  Budgets for 15/16 show an very modest increase of less than 1% on expenditure but there would be a substantial increase as less income was being received due to the Favourable condition projects funding coming to an end. Officers recommended that the budget be approved and that officers would be seeking to increase funding from the Boards’ development control service as a result of projects like Hinkley Point C and National Grid Hinkley Connection Project.

SG circulated a further report and explained that more funds need to be raised for time spent by NS and IDS on the Somerset Rivers Board.  CW said that the money ought to be able to be claimed back.  NWS confirmed that a bid had been made to Somerset County Council for reimbursement of SRB work costs from within the Defra GIA application

Proposed: Mervyn Winslade, Seconded: Jeff Fear “that the budget figures are approved”.  All in favour RESOLVED 1

  1. New rating software (NWS) appended.  Further to previous committee approval on the installation of an up to date drainage rating system, NS explained the requirements which are now budgeted at £8400 including contingencies. The work will include the new software, data migration by the Water Management Alliance (WMA) in Kings Lynn and staff training. NWS reported that there are considerable benefits from upgrading as well as a reduction in administration costs and an improved service for ratepayers when land enquiries are made. It will also put the Board in a good position for providing a service to a possible Somerset Rivers Board. Proposed: Brian Rowe, Seconded: Chris Williams “that items 7.1 and 7.2 of the paper Rating System – Drainage rates are approved”.  11 for, 1 against, 1 abstention.  Motion carried.
  2. Health and Safety update (EB/NWS) Liz Bennett (LB) had been asked to produce a Health & Safety assessment report on the organisations practices and procedures – appended.   LB talked members through her report.  She clarified the major points and would return to carry out quarterly checks.  Training was recommended for staff and briefings for members.  Checks should be carried out on machinery and operators, if there were any concerns the office should be contacted.  PM had met Liz on site and praised her for her work.  Proposed: Peter Maltby, seconded: Ed Champion “that the Board adopts the changes made to Health and Safety Policies and Procedures document and that the General Policy statement can be signed off.”
  3. Staffing (NWS) NS reported that Carly Hughes had now left and had been replaced by Sharon Reid on reception as an administrative assistant and Ellena Fletcher had been engaged as the Planning and Technical Support Officer.  Part time engineers Robin Bendall and Nick Harrison had now retired.
  4. Variation to Terms and Conditions for external work. The Clerk explained the background to this item. Giles Officer was working at the North Somerset Levels IDB (NSLIDB) to assist with their engineering work.  Giles is currently working long hours and NS advised the Boards should consider changes to the Terms and Conditions to allow for overtime to be paid for work being undertaken for external organisations. This would ensure external clients are meeting proper costs and that employees are not disadvantaged in efforts that they make. The arrangement will have nil cost to the Consortium Boards.  Proposed: Ed Champion, Seconded: Brian Rowe “that the Terms and Conditions are amended so that staff undertaking work for external clients will be reimburse for overtime incurred at plain time rates between Monday and Friday”.  All in favour.  RESOLVED
  5. Engineering programme update:  – IS circulated the 5 year programme and explained the success of the programme which is still being followed.  He also explained the extra work which was a result of the flooding and other issues.  He also explained the staffing resource issue.  Giles Oliver was now working at 150% on NSLIDB works and Andy Sherwood is also working extra hours as Dan Alsop (the current officer) is due to retire,  another engineer is required for the service that we provide to North Somerset Levels IDB (NSLIDB).  Planning control in NSLIDB is at 40-45% instead of the budgeted 20%.  Major projects for Hinkley Point C and the National Grid are due to start.  With this in mind IS suggested the requirements would be 1 engineer to the NSLIDB at nil cost to the board, this would mean there would be a temporary fulltime planning engineer and a permanent full time engineer for the works programme on the NSLIDB service provision.  TB commented that the Board was set up for the purpose of maintenance and was concerned that the service provision for NSLIDB might cause the work on the ground for the SDBC Boards to suffer if NSLIDB did not have adequate staffing.  PM said that the capital works may have to slip.  Proposed: Peter Maltby, seconded: Chris Williams “that an Engineer is sought for the North Somerset Levels IDB as a temporary full time planning staff member”.  12 for, 0 against and 1 abstention.  Motion carried.
  6. Adoption and a review of Policy Statements (NWS/C-AP) – none presented for adoption however the Fencing Policy document is still unapproved and results in risk to the Board relating to the unplanned setting of precedents
  7. Accommodation update – NS reported that 1 Church Street has now been sold.  Work on Bradbury House is 1 week behind schedule as there had been a problem with the roof repairs due to a materials shortage with the replacement (artificial) slates
  8. Full Consortium Meeting of Tuesday 21 October 2014 – NS asked for input for the agenda for the forthcoming Consortium meeting.  PM suggested the meeting followed the same format as 2013.

Website – Martin Watts asked for plans of planning and consent applications to be put on website; planning is available on County and District planning portals, whilst consent applications are available for members to view at the Drainage Board office.

  1. Meetings calendar 2015/16 – provided to members as a draft for comment
  2. Any other business – JF advised that there had been changes to the Council appointed members and asked officers to investigate.
  3. Date of next meeting: 

Full Consortium Meeting – 21 October 2014, 7.00pm

Management Committee – 16 December 2014, 10.30am


There being no other business, the Chairman thanked members for their attendance and closed the meeting at 1.30pm.