Welsh Government could pull plug on Caldicot and Wentlooge Drainage Board
3:38pm Thursday 17th October 2013 in News
THE Welsh Government could be set to pull the plug on the troubled Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board as soon as next month, it has emerged.
Environment minister Alun Davies said that he has asked officials to assess the possibility of moving the powers of drainage boards to Natural Resources Wales.
Mr Davies’ action comes in response to a damning report, published almost a year ago by the Wales Audit Office, that said the board overpaid its most senior member of staff, paid thousands for trips abroad for its members and occasionally acted unlawfully.
Auditors had said the actions of some staff and members of the Newport-based drainage board had been "likely to undermine public confidence".
The report concerned a period when the board was run by former clerk and chief engineer Dean Jackson-Johns – a different senior manager is now in place.
There is only one drainage board – Caldicot and Wentlooge – fully within Wales, with two partially in England.
Mr Davies is expected to make a decision in the next month, although officials are also looking at other options for the boards' future.
It comes as the National Assembly's Public Accounts Committee is expected to report tomorrow on its findings into its own inquiry into the board.
Mr Davies' statement follows a consultation on the future of drainage boards in Wales, where the Welsh Government said it preferred that the drainage boards' powers are handed to the agency.
Mr Davies told AMs: “The issues identified in the report do not reflect the culture or standards of public service that we have a right to expect from any public body.
“Caldicot and Wentlooge Internal Drainage Board is a small body, independent of Government, and it is clear from the report that it lacked some of the necessary governance controls, checks and balances that a public body must possess.”
“The former Clerk and Chief Engineer at the time of these events has left the organisation, and I understand that measures have already been put in place to ensure that appropriate control measures are now in place.
“We have already consulted on the future of these bodies and stated that we will take account of the Wales Office Audit report in our future decisions.
“In the consultation we made clear that our preferred option was to transfer the powers of all the Internal Drainage Boards in Wales to Natural Resources Wales.
“I have considered responses to the consultation and asked officials to look at the costs, benefits and risks of this option alongside others.
“This work is well advanced, and I expect to announce my decision on the future of these Boards in the next month.”