‘Drain’ of public funds & accountability of Public Bodies?

Readers will recall the Forum Executive’s concern around the promotion by the Dun which was subsequently amalgamated into the Danvm Drainage Commissioners  (DDC) of a massive drainage scheme in the Fishlake area.  This project, the Fishlake Mining Subsidence Remediation Scheme was deemed essential to ensure that properties were safeguarded and agricultural land restored to a previous state.  Various drains were cited as regularly flooding and the subsidence was considered to exacerbate these issues ….

It would seem fair to suggest that it is moderately wet at the moment where precipitation can be seen standing particularly in low lying areas?  The image taken today shows a drain deemed essential to evacuate water rapidly.  Whilst it might lack photographic merit it does provide an example of an expensive heavily engineered drain promoted as essential on the back of bad floods and one seemingly not discharging much water at the moment, or even recently from the look of the vegetation growth in it?


It is interesting to examine Old Maps and those in the local archives and then cross referenced by ‘field walks/site visits’ to see the number of what were originally open drains (best for rapid evacuation of water) culverted?  Then research these against the number of applications for culverting to either the local planning authority or the local Internal Drainage Board?  With ever changing weather patterns there is surely a need to ensure that all aspects are considered when it comes to the siting of housing in low lying areas and flood plains?  The Government is increasingly requiring cost benefit analysis for public expenditure as it seeks to reduce spend (currently £8 of benefit for every £1 spent), so inevitably there are choices to be made when it comes to assessing risk against flooding.

What has the Environment Agency’s National Assessment of Flood Risk got to do with a Mining Remediation Scheme?  The best analogy we can offer is to ask the question why should the water board talk to the electricity board and the gas board talk to the telecommunication company when they need to dig up the road to lay ‘infrastructure’ services?  That and to plead for application of best practice, communication and accountability?

Look at the width of the drain and then calculate the land take and the cost of this which ultimately is bourne by the public purse (through the Coal Authority) and look at the volume of water ….

This scheme was promoted by the DDC, who readers will recall were subject of a Governance Audit Report in October 2014.

A traffic light approach has been made by the management service provision to indicate completed, underway and outstanding.  This appendix (Current Recommendation Status) was included in the document at the time of publication and it would seem that throughout the audit investigation the management service provision were involved?  Despite the full Board having met subsequent to the publication of the Governance Audit Report we have been unable to locate any further progress reports.  The management service provision to the three local IDBs the Forum observe* is provided by Shire Group of IDBs.  Whilst the public are now permitted to attend ordinary meetings of the Board’s, they are declined admission to Committee meetings, Board papers are with-held and only minutes are eventually uploaded to the Shire Group website not the full series of Board papers.

One recent upload of minutes for meetings of the Black Drain DB held on 24 January 2013 and 27 June 2013 was not undertaken until 22 December 2014 and that was only activated by intervention, some eighteen months in the undertaking?  Such practice could hardly be described as timely and demonstrative of best practice governance?

Despite recommendations made by the DMBC Governance Audit Report of the DDC there appears to have been very little  implementation of many of those recommendations around transparency and public engagement, why not?  Why do IDBs appear to continue to resist open and transparent conduct of business funded through the public purse?  It is most unfortunate that the Forum Executive find themselves having to submit another Freedom of Information request via What Do They Know about legal advice around recovery of public funds.  As ever, simply an acknowledgement, indicating a response will be made no later than Friday 13 January 2014!   

Internal Drainage Board membership is made up of DMBC nominees and elected members (generally landowners or often their land agents).  IDBs are Public Bodies and as such regulated and subject to legislative compliance.

* The three Boards which the Forum Executive currently observe are the two mentioned above, that is to say the Danvm Drainage Commissioners, the Black Drain Drainage Board and the Doncaster East Internal Drainage Board.




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