IDB accountability part 2 …

We wrote yesterday of issues around Internal Drainage Boards and accessing information funded through the public purse, today we continue analysis of the workings of these Public Bodies.

This post poses the question, why has the governance of these amalgamated Boards taken so long to be established?  Even after two years as well as a Shadow Board operating before final amalgamation, it seems that there are policies and procedures still being written and sub-committees still being set up?

What also causes the Forum concern are the number of wetland habitats in the DEIDB area which are in unfavourable condition. More worrying is that there seems to be an inertia to address such issues, despite the establishment of an Environment Committee within the DEIDB, there appears little by way of tangible action?  Two such examples of inaction or neglect despite knowledge of the situation (and recorded in Board minutes) might be at Haxey Grange Fen (another site in decline and neglected by statutory Public Bodies) and Hatfield Chase Drains SSSI?

In 2007 the Forum undertook a survey of a number of these SSSI Drains and concluded that they were still declining, the findings of the survey was reported to both Natural England, the IDB and the Environment Agency at the time and a paper published in 2011 in Thorne & Hatfield Moors Papers Volume 8.

P1030455

The image shows North Engine Drain, a SSSI maintained by the Environment Agency. 

Wildlife friendly maintenance can be seen with vegetation cuts done on rotation. 

Regular readers might also recall that we have sought information about transparent governence through the WhatDoTheyKnow website, details of FoI requests to the DDC can be found and progress followed here. Doncaster East IDB here.

Are the Doncaster Boards management services delivering good governance are they mindful of procedure and open conduct where public funds are concerned? We would encourage all readers to take an interest in the work of local drainage boards, they are not just about drainage but biodiversity and water management which includes flood defence.  Why not attend Board meetings as a member of the public, observe conduct of those in public office …. sadly the public were excluded from the ‘extraordinary’ meeting of Board Chairs of 9 July 2014 and despite what the minutes record, the minutes of the second meeting are not yet released …. yes, we made a request hoping that they would be furnished in a timely manner having naively assumed that they were written almost immediately after those already posted (four months later on 18 November 2014) on the web for 9 July 2014. Our request made 9 January received the standard …. a reply in 20 days!  Watch this space for the outcome?

The next meetings, open to the public are those of the Danvm Drainage Commissioners on Friday 6 February 2015 at 9.30am, the meeting papers are available as a download via the Shire Group of IDBs but they do not provide the detail of the venue.  The next meeting scheduled for the Doncaster East IDB is to be held on Friday 13 February 2015 (generally an afternoon meeting) but there is no detail or papers yet available on the Shire Group of IDBs website.  The Clerk to both Boards can be contacted on 01302 337798.

Let’s hope we are able to report positive updates tomorrow, in the interim we are considering creating a database of the number of Freedom of Information requests made to Shire Group of IDBs management services relating to IDBs …. now, as we have previously mentioned the Forum observe three ‘local’ Boards but there are others this company currently provide services to, so watch this space?

To get a flavour of ‘neighbouring’ campaigners see:

Drainage Board Governance and Accountability

Management of the Board

With some fifteen FoIs identified on the WhatDoTheyKnow website, this lady is clearly a determined campaigner and a champion of accountable governance where public funds are concerned.

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