The Board is made up of 19 Members; 9 of these are directly elected by local landowners and 10 are appointed by the Council Tax Authority (Unitary or District Council) to represent the drainage and flood risk management interests of local residents and non-agricultural businesses. There is currently a vacancy for one elected member and three appointed members.
The day to day management of the Board is led by the Chief Executive, supported by Department Directors and their teams who look after specific service areas including Corporate, Finance, Engineering and Asset Management. The Board employs finance, rating, policy, administration, and technical officers. Maintenance work is undertaken by contractors and a team of skilled operators, engineers, and craftsmen.
The Board is a public authority constituted by Statutory Instrument, this is a form of legislation which allow the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act, sometimes referred to as secondary legislation.
Accountability and autonomy
The Board is accountable to the local community through its elected and appointed members. Although the Council may appoint members, the Board is entirely independent of other local authorities and national agencies. The relevant government minster may give certain directions about how the Board operates.
The Board normally has three scheduled meetings a year; details of the meetings are advertised on this website where the agendas and minutes of Board meetings can also be found. When members meet they must follow rules of assembly commonly called “Standing Orders“, these orders are approved by the relevant government minister and set out how meetings should be conducted by defining thresholds for attendance, voting and other proceedings of the meeting.
The purpose of the Board meeting is to scrutinise the work of the Board and its administration on behalf of the local community, ensuring suitable governance and financial management systems are in place.
The Board may appoint a sub-committee from its numbers and give that committee delegated powers to make decisions on behalf of the Board.
Like any other public authority, the Board manages its governance and finances through a series of policies and regulations. These policies are developed by officers and approved by the Board, usually based on best practice. Once adopted; members, officers and contractors are required to work within this ‘policy framework’. For practical reasons some regulations allow officers to spend money and make decisions on a day to day basis without reverting to the Board, these are known as schemes of delegation.
Audit and External Review
Because the Board is a public authority responsible for the public purse, its work is subject to a high level of independent scrutiny. The Board directly appoints an internal auditor, this person can inspect any of the Board’s processes and records at any time but usually undertakes this work 3 to 4 times a year. The internal auditor reports directly to the Board rather than its officers.
An external auditor is also appointed by the government, the Board must report to this auditor once a year. Again, this person can inspect the Boards records but generally undertakes sample testing of the Board’s records and processes once a year. The Board should act or properly consider the recommendations of an Auditor.
A local authority may scrutinise the work of the drainage board but has no powers to direct the Board. The Board welcomes this scrutiny and will actively engage with any such process.
The activities of Internal Drainage Boards are subject to review by the Local Government Ombudsman except in the case of private land matters, a matter that is under the purview of Defra or the Environment Agency or where matters are or may be referred to an agricultural land tribunal.