Beck working group - 23 November 2020

Minutes of the Beck Working Group Remote Meeting held at 2.00pm on Monday 23rd November 2020 via Zoom
Present: Cllr Radcliffe (JR), Cllr Jenkinson (PJ), Mr R Marshall (RM); Mr T. Williams (TW), Mr Bill Ball (BB), 
Also present: Cllr Evans (JE) (ex-officio), Cllr Clayton (JC), Mrs Michelle Vail (Facilities Manager) (FM), Nicola Craven (NC) (arrived at 2.52pm)
Meeting started at 2.02pm
All were welcomed; and Cllr Clayton was thanked for attending in respect of item 4.
1. To receive apologies: Cllr Newsam (ex-officio), Mr M Spencer (MS)
2. To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 14 September 2020:
With the addition of a minor amendment to item 5 to clarify that the Terms of Reference is in respect of the Beck Working Group; and also to state that the Terms of Reference mentions nothing about the encouragement of biodiversity; it was proposed, seconded and resolved by those who had been present at that meeting, to approve the minutes as a true record and they were duly signed.
3. To receive any matters arising:
PJ reported as follows:
  • Beck by the sewage works has now been cleared.
  • Weir expenditure is shortly due to be approved; and the order subsequently placed.
  • Mr R Ashton has stepped down as a Beck Working Group (BWG) member.
  • There will a minimum of 4 BWG meetings per annum.
BB suggested that the actions from the previous meeting be reviewed.
FM read out the following advice on water voles, received from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust:
‘Water vole are protected under the Wildlife & countryside Act, 1981 Schedule 5 and listed in section 41 as a species of conservation concern in the Nature Environment & Rural Communities Act 2006.
Under WCA it is breaking the law to:
  • Intentionally capture, kill or injure water voles
  • damage, destroy or block access to their places of shelter or protection (on purpose or by not taking enough care)
  • disturb them in a place of shelter or protection (on purpose or by not taking enough care)
  • possess, sell, control or transport live or dead water voles or parts of them (not water voles bred in captivity)
If a person is found guilty of an offence they can get an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison. Therefore any works disturbing water voles, their breeding sites and resting places will require a protected species license from Natural England at any time of year. It is also required that any planning authority consults NE and EA on any works that may impact this species’.
RM – noted that the above advice is pertinent to their breeding site; not their range.
4. Cllr Janice Clayton – Village Flood Warden:
Cllr Clayton advised that:
  • Flood Wardens are now called Community Emergency Volunteers
  • Cllr Higham is the other Community Emergency Volunteer 
  • NPC does not do anything in respect of flood prevention; although it is in possession of Aqua sacs
  • LCC are not keen to install traps to capture beck debris; but NPC staff are not available all the time to check these anyway
  • JC isn’t aware of any small scale solutions which could help; only a new Vicarage Lane bridge
JC left the meeting at 2.17pm.
5. To consider public availability of minutes:
BB suggested that these be made available as routine; or that minutes be replaced by an actions list. FM advised that there is no legal requirement to keep minutes of working group meetings.  PJ noted that once minutes had been agreed as a true record, they could go onto the new website.  TW – queried whether the arrangement should apply to all groups.  Action: item for consideration at Full Council
6. To review achievements of the BWG to date; and identify learning points for the future:
BB suggested that, as the BWG is 3 years old, whether it is time to reflect and to identify any learning points to aid moving forward. He opined that there are gaps and inconsistencies in the proposed management plan; and that it is fundamental to underpin the group and its raison d’etre.
RM confirmed that:
  • the initial BWG had been set up to look at the maintenance budget in respect of budget coming up for renewal; ie the landscaping element along the beck.  
  • flooding was not part of the initial group’s remit, but now appears to be so.  
  • there isn’t an asset list of key elements along the beck eg weirs, culverts, landscaping, sensitive issues; which would give the group focus for the future
  • the BWG was set up in an advisory capacity with no set agenda; and has been evolutionary since inception.
  • RW had written documents but that the group had veered off this
TW responded as follows:
  • An NPC policy was produced (B of proposed plan)
  • A specification for beck maintenance was produced (C of proposed plan)
  • Master letters were produced for sending to riparian owners (D of proposed plan)
  • Therefore, the only difference is Section A – completed by RM
  • Confirmed that Part C does require revising
It was then agreed to resume the discussion under item 10 in this meeting.
7. To consider draft Aims and Objectives document as produced by BB:
BB opined that a tighter focus for the group is required; that there are conflicts in some areas; and that his draft Aims and Objectives document may be of help in developing the plan moving forward. He was thanked for a pertinent and well written document; and TW and PJ both considered that it should be integrated into the management plan between the existing parts A and B.
TW then raised two concerns on behalf of NPC:
1) NPC needs to think hard about the implications: ie does NPC have the budget and the expertise to carry actions out.
2) The issue of flooding largely falls to LCC.  NPC has no legal responsibility; but over the last three years it has moved slightly towards assuming flood risk management actions; therefore is indirectly taking on a responsibility for flood management.  NPC must consider the implications of taking this indirect responsibility on.
RM noted the increase in proceduralisation.  
Action: RM and BB to work together on the draft ‘aims and objectives’ document; prior to it being presented to the next BWG meeting.
At this point in the meeting (2.52pm) NC joined the meeting.
8. To consider summarising in one document the legal framework of responsibilities for beck maintenance and flood control:
BB noted that it would be nice to be able to see old documents relating to the beck; and also that a previous FM had produced a document detailing the responsibilities of riparian owners; which had been sent to all riparian owners.
9. To receive progress report on the LRT Limestone Beck Project and consider any actions required:
Consultation letters had been delivered to riparian owners along the stretch of beck designated for Phase One of the project; and one resident had subsequently submitted their concerns.
NC advised that IDB consent had been obtained; and the stretch of beck in question was not where the flooding originates. Based on his previous modelling work, BB feared that there could well be increased flood risk at nearby property which needed sandbag protection in 2007 
TW disagreed as: 1) at a previous public meeting; the Environment Agency had advised that the scheme would not create any additional risk of flooding and 2) as an IDB board member; he could confirm that IDB had been unanimous in agreeing consent for this project.
Noted that Nettleham is not in an IDB area (which stops at the sewage works); but it has a ‘district’; and also an ‘extended district’ as local lead flood authority on behalf of/agent for LCC as the lead flood risk agency.
RM suggested working with the brewery to beautification of the stretch of beck in question, rather than installing berms.
The need to be careful due to sensitivities about flooding; was noted.
At this point (15.10pm) NC was thanked; and she left the meeting.
10. To consider revised Draft Nettleham Beck Management Plan (v. 4):
TW advised that good progress was being made; as follows:
Part A – signed off
Part B – no comments received
Section 3 – TW volunteered to complete
Section 4 – TW volunteered to redraft this.
Responsibilities of riparian owners to be placed at end of document.
Insert the Aims and objectives document (authored by BB) in-between the current sections A and B.
BB suggested beginning with staff resources then work back; noting that; for example; just inspecting the beck on foot is time consuming. He further suggested getting staff input into its feasibility and considered how friendly the document is to staff.  The FM advised that significant staff time is already devoted to beck matters.
TW advised that sections 3 and 4 will be in the same format as section 2; with TW to circulate a rider for all to approve which FM can then weave in to the document.
RM proposed a map marked up with objectives, and aims/tasks to simplify matters into a visual document; with RM and BB liaising on this; and TW’s work continuing; with all elements being brought together in due course.  It was resolved to approve this proposal.  Action: RM, BB, TW
11. To consider general maintenance of the Beck (PJ) and any actions required including:
High Street weir is undercut so MS will arrange a quote specification for stoning it up. Action: MS
BB noted that the weir licences allow for a specific weir board height above the beck bed; the actual weir board heights do not correspond; and he suggested that this requires careful looking at. RM noted the need for discussion and decision taking before taking any action regarding stoning and weir boards. TW noted that the licence had been granted 30 years previously.  Action: FM to approach Environment Agency to ask if a variation of license is required.   
The following matters were then reported:
  • A branch has been removed behind The Vineyard
  • A weir board has been removed behind the Croft: a weir still exists here and is a substantial obstruction.
  • The silt behind the Croft is between 6 – 9 inches deep.
  • Water from Riseholme lake is currently not feeding into the beck; and the lake is its lowest level for 3 years. PJ is making enquiries. Action: PJ
  • WLDC has been dealing with a rat issue on Kingsway at the Washdyke Lane end.  The tenant farmer has cut vegetation back at this location, scattering the rats, and WLDC is now conducting a mop up operation with householders.
i. Consideration of weirs behind the Croft (BB)
BB and PJ had had a productive walk along the beck; making contact with owners. Permission is needed to remove the weir behind the Vineyard as it is considered to increase the flood risk in the village.  However, in removing it; mud flats may be created. Action: BB, PJ to try to meet the riparian owners.
12. Reports by WG members of beck inspections:
RM and JR – nothing to report.
  • LCC had cut back trees on the S bends making access much easier.
  • A tyre next to a culvert requires removal (opposite Rockwell Lodge). Action: FM
  • The S bends to1 Cliff Avenue has deteriorated since Sept 2020 with significant pond weed.  Action: FM.  BB queried whether NPC should even be asking for action given the presence of water voles: in response; it was noted that the famer should carry out farming functions and act within the law.
  • The Washdyke Lane to 1 Kingsway stretch is significantly improved since the last inspection.  Action: FM to thank tenant farmer.
  • Noted that the January – March 2020 long term forecast is for much rain; therefore potentially for beck issues.
13. Date of next meeting: 22nd February 2021, 2pm
All present expressed their disappointment to hear that Mr R Ashton had stepped down from the BWG.  A potential new member was suggested. Action: FM 
Meeting ended at 3.56pm
Mrs Michelle Vail  Facilities Manager  Nettleham Parish Council