Minutes of the inaugural Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium Management Committee meeting held 26 April 2012 at 10.30 am at 1 Church Street, Highbridge.
1. Attendance and Apology sheet was circulated. As apologies had been received from M Watts, ME Wall, M Winslade and M Young, G Chinnock, P Thorne, D Spicer and J Taylor respectively, served in their stead.
2. Items additional to this agenda (1) W Welland (WW) asked if there was an alternative out of hours number available other than the night service answer machine. N Stevens (NWS) advised that the night service message gave an on-call mobile contact. After discussion it was agreed that NWS would consider if an on-call rota was required and bring back to a future meeting. (2) NWS advised members that Miss E Gordon (Libby) will be leaving the Drainage Board 27 April, due to resignation; therefore members were asked for their patience for a presentation to take place betwixt items 3 and 4.
3. Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman T Bradford proposed and G Chinnock seconded ‘that Peter Maltby be elected as Chairman of the new Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium’. All in favour. RESOLVED 1. There being no other nominations Mr Maltby accepted, and took the Chair. PM thanked members for their confidence and said that the most important thing is for the company to get up and running. PM asked for introductions around the room after first introducing C-A Porter as Assistant Clerk, prior to nominations for Vice-Chair. P Thorne proposed and D Spicer seconded ‘that Jeff Fear be elected Vice-Chairman of the new Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium’. All in favour. RESOLVED 2. There being no other nominations J Fear accepted and thanked members for their confidence.
4. Minutes of the last meeting Shadow Consortium 21 February 2012 having been circulated were signed as a correct record by PM. Central Somerset Consortium of Drainage Boards 29 March having been circulated were confirmed to be true and correct by R Adlam and duly signed by PM. Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium (old) 8 February 2012 having been circulated were signed as a correct record by PM. All in favour.
i. Miss E Gordon (Libby) was invited to the meeting where she was presented with a large bouquet as a token of gratitude from the Board for her services during the preceding 8 years. PM stated that with first impressions being important, she has done a wonderful job both on the telephone and the front desk. Best wishes were conveyed by members; Libby thanked members and officers for their kind words and wishes.
5. Confirmation of the new Consortium Agreement each member was presented with a copy of the agreement for future reference. PM thanked B Watkis for his services in producing the agreement.
6. Confirmation of the appointment of the Lead Board. The Axe Brue board at its meeting of 2nd April confirmed it will stand as Lead Board for the new Consortium. PM thanked the Axe Brue Chairman.
7. Confirmation of the meetings calendar for the year (appended) members discussed the need for the Axe Brue Board to hold an AGM this year. NWS advised that this action would not be necessary as members will stand for 18 months, to November 2013, at which time an election will be conducted for the succeeding 3 year term.
8. Confirmation of Senior Officers. Members were advised that the Senior Officers are Nick Stevens, Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Gee, Responsible Finance Officer and Iain Sturdy, Chief Engineer.
9. Finance issues and Confirmation of Consortium Budgets (appended) S Gee (SG) gave an overview of his report. (1) Members were advised that the original CSDBC and SDBC budgets had been revised due to amalgamation and the outcome of the Salaries Sub-Committee amongst other costs, which results in a saving to the Parrett of approx. £17k and approx. £12k to the Axe Brue. These figures will not have an impact on the District Council in this financial year, as the Special Levy notices are based on original budgets for rate setting purposes. D Spicer proposed and A Franks seconded ‘that the Board adopts the revised budget of the Consortium for 2012/13’. All in favour. RESOLVED 3. (2) Members’ travel expenses: it was brought to the Chairman’s attention that not all members receive a regular payment for travel expenses. It was explained that expenses are paid annually based on the mileage chronicled on meeting sign-in forms. P Thorne proposed and E Champion seconded ‘that annual payments continue for expenses accrued during the year as registered on the meeting sign-in forms’. All in favour. RESOLVED 4. (3) Banking: bank accounts of the Lower Axe & Brue and Upper Axe & Brue Boards will be maintained for the short term to allow outstanding payments/receipts. Transfer of balances to the new account has taken place. Free banking will continue on the Parrett and Consortium, but the Axe Brue will be charged. Nat West has expressed an interest to review regular charges on all Boards, should these be applied, SG will investigate alternative banking arrangements. (4) Rating software: the Board is still awaiting the return of the DBAS system from Kings Lynn, to which the Board’s reserves are preventing any shortfall of income. Officers felt that for immediate use DBAS would be maintained due to pressures of amalgamation, however once settled investigations will be undertaken into alternative rating software for future use.
10. Engineering Works Programme I Sturdy (IDS) advised members that during the forthcoming year’s engineering works there are 3 main challenges: (1) Delivery, (2) Identifying needs and (3) How works fit. In brief (1) Favourable Conditions 100% grant in aid (GIA): approved works for Parrett in region of £800k, with £1.2m approved for Axe Brue district. Health and Safety and Urban Works 45% GIA: Axe Brue works identified with Medium Term Plan (MTP) approved, which includes £250k (gross) allocated to H&S improvements, operational improvements and watercourse & urban drainage investigations. (2) Officers will continue to keep records of operational needs, with Board members informing of difficulties and assets monitoring. In reply to a question of the Board not having prospect of receiving grant, how would this affect the Board, IDS stated that Urban Drainage Improvement forms take not only the scheme, but the area as a whole, into account, and therefore would almost certainly be within the remit of GIA. R Adlam informed members that the Somerset IDB is being held as an example nationally, on how Favourable Conditions can work by the RFDCC. (3) Working with others through development control and planning operations, with an understanding of the area to ensure the correct solutions are delivered.
Byelaws – NWS: the Axe Brue Board has adopted the respective byelaws of the 4 old Boards for the interim period. A 2004 national byelaw model is available to the Board; however ADA is open to the idea of a new model, to which discussions are underway to facilitate the possibility. The Parrett Board would consider adoption of the standard byelaws. This item will be discussed further at a Management Meeting to be held in September.
11. Staffing and staff terms and conditions following amalgamation there are 23 officers, most of whom transferred under TUPE regulations. The Clerk is discussing and considering contractual arrangements with C-A Porter and AJ Dowden (AJD). Any work on development by AJD will be the subject of a cost recovery from the developer. Libby’s replacement: an offer has been made to a young lady, who has provisionally accepted, and can be available to start once her current commitment is concluded. A staff handbook has been drawn up with terms and conditions, taking observations and comments from staff into account.
12. Office Accommodation NWS advised members that space is maximised in both Church Street and Alpha House. It was suggested that in the future a sub-committee be formed to discuss options regarding permanent contract staff and office re-siting when Alpha House is no longer available. PM thanked the Axe Brue for making Church Street available to the Boards. Members were asked to give future consideration to alternative sites with the possibility of sharing the site.
13. Stationery and publicity draft letterheads were produced for members’ comments; it was felt that the colours were not strong enough and that the designs were too similar to other IDB’s and Wessex Water. NWS will ask for the artwork to be reviewed. Publicity: NWS had prepared a press release which was mentioned on Somerset Radio this morning; members reported that the announcement was very positive. ADA has inserted an article on the Somerset Drainage Boards amalgamation on its website. A newsletter will be an included with the rate demands to inform all rate payers. Emma Britton, Somerset Sound, is to be invited to attend a visit for promotional purposes.
14. AGM date and venue members agreed the AGM should take place 23rd October at 7.30pm in Cossington Village Hall, subject to availability. Woolavington Village Hall was also recommended. The Assistant Clerk was asked to confirm the booking.
15. Any Other Business (1) Church Street will be closed for 10 days from 30 April; road signs have been placed strategically around Highbridge.
(2) NWS advised members that he and AJD attended a meeting of the Somerset Strategic Flood Management Partnership; Somerset County Council is leading as the lead local flood risk authority for drainage and flood management. They have recently released a local strategy for flood risk management which is a working draft, and could be crucial to the Board’s ability to apply for national funds for urban drainage work. The final document is expected to be available February 2013; a two month consultation is expected between September and December 2012. District councils, IDB’s and water authorities will need to adopt the document once it has been produced, as they will need to work in accordance with it to be eligible for future funding. NWS was asked to offer the Board’s services and experience where/when appropriate. A sub-committee was formed to work alongside NWS, AJD and IDS to respond at the public consultation stage; J Fear, E Champion, R Adlam, A Franks and D Spicer.
(3) NWS updated members on the Sustainable Drainage approval body, which will need to work in parallel with planning policy. NWS would encourage a meeting with planning officers of Sedgemoor District Council to discuss future procedures regarding SUDs and IDB consents.
(4) PM represented the Drainage Boards at a recent meeting of the NFU, to examine the possible future of another funding scheme across Somerset, similar to ESA funding.
(5) Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was invited to visit Somerset; 24th April PM, NWS, IDS and P Brewin (PB) met the Minister, with other bodies including RSPB, NE and EA for a fleeting visit to Grey Lake, Burrow Mump and West Sedgemoor. PM welcomed the Minister and established the presence of the IDB. The Chairman was impressed by the knowledge and understanding of the Minister, who also expressed a keen interest in an eco-system approach, as promoted currently by Defra.
16. Date and Venue for meetings calendar appended. Members agreed that the meetings calendar could be taken as read.
The second meeting of the Consortium Management Committee will be 4th September 2012 at 10.30 am in 1 Church Street.
The Chairman thanked members and officers for attending, and closed the meeting at 12.50 pm.
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