L-R Chris Rusbridge from Defra’s water team discusses watercourse maintenance with River Lugg IDB’s engineer Les Harrison, Chairman Charles Pudge and Hermes Carlyon, Flood Risk Management Officer from the Environment Agency.
I hope all of you reading this were able to take some time out over Easter with families and friends. The Thomson household continued to uphold the tradition of an Easter Egg hunt and having a full and enjoyably noisy house over the long weekend was a great pleasure.
Tuesday back to work started normally until mid-morning when the Prime Minister caught us all by (some) surprise and the rest of the week has been spent contemplating how a General Election might affect ADA and its members. Probably not a lot is my initial reaction although all engagement with Defra and Government will be put on hold until after June 8th. In theory, that will allow us to get on with all those things that we were putting off because of other priorities.
It does not change our focus on FLOODEX and, indeed, increases the need for us to show solidarity as an industry and demonstrate to a new government our important place at the drainage, water level & flood risk management table. So, if you have not already registered to attend on either 17th or 18th May, visit the website at www.floodex.co.uk and register. It’s free and its success depends on your support and I look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible. If you are coming, why not sign-up for the FLOODEX dinner on 17th May at the Peterborough Marriott Hotel as well – places are going fast so get your seat booked and for a table of 10, you only pay for 9 !
Various meetings recently, and notably with the NFU and RSPB have highlighted the need for us to do more about sharing all the good work we do rather than being focussed on what has not worked so well. That is why one of ADA’s agreed committee workstreams is looking at how we improve our information systems and develop a “dashboard” featuring facts and figures about members’ good work. We will be calling for your good news items in due course.
Back to Easter and I had the pleasure of listening to the Sunday celebration at York Minster and the Easter message from Archbishop Sentamu. His theme used the 1965 “The Animals” song ( remember them? ) “We gotta get out of this place….there’s a better life for me and you” and his message was about embracing change where it took you to a better place. Our Industry has and continues to make those steps and ADA is here to help and support you all. With Ian, we will be producing some position statements on the various issues raised in the NAO report which I hope will help all our members continue to evolve and develop their future plans and operations with conviction and pride.
One of our other work themes for the year involves us looking at our membership fee structures with the aim of trying to provide a better solution for our smaller IDB and Associate Members. With the blessing of the Policy & Finance Committee, I hope to put some options to ADA’s Board in July and I will keep you informed.
The General Election will result in a slight interlude in making progress on the de-maining pilots. I can report, however, that we have started discussions with the River Lugg IDB and I was delighted that Chris Rusbridge from Defra was able to visit and talk through plans last week, accompanied by Ian Moodie and staff from the EA (see photo above). For all the pilots, the important pieces of work will be the public consultation to ensure that as many people as possible are supportive of the planned de-maining, the governance arrangements in place for those Boards and how the work of those Boards is reported to the EA and Defra. As many things are, this will all be about the public perception of the great job that IDBs, Local Authorities and the EA can do by working together, so please have a careful think about how, with partners, you actively promote your good work over the summer. ADA will be happy to help with that too.
Finally, and most of you know ADA’s position on this already, we will be maintaining a politically neutral position for ADA during the election period and ensuring that all parties have access to the same information about our Members’ activities.