Doomed Gwent drainage board in fees row

A DOOMED public body spent at least £5,000 on barrister's advice on challenging a minister's decision to abolish it following a damning audit report.

But one board member says the 32-member Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board did not agree to speak to a barrister, a matter disputed by the chief staff officer of the body.

One local MP said keeping the body in the board's hands seemed a waste of public money.

An emergency meeting was held in November after Alun Davies, environment minister, decided to merge the board with Natural Resources Wales.

The board wanted to challenge the minister's move and minutes show the board was asked to access legal advice regarding the process, costs and prospects of challenging the decision.

Richard Penn, general manager of the body, confirmed to the Argus that the body then commissioned a barrister from London to look into the matter.

But after the advice said such a challenge would cost a lot and was not likely to be successful the board decided not to pursue it further.

Mr Penn said the cost of seeking such advice was between £5,000 and £10,000 but was "nearer £5,000" - he said a precise figure was commercially confidential.

He said the board had acted "entirely properly" and that the drainage board could do what it liked with its resources as a independent public body.

However, Paul Hannon, a Newport councillor for Beechwood, a board member and a critic of the decision to merge the body with NRW, said at "no point did we say that we want to seek counsel's opinion".

Mr Penn said it was always clear that was needed. He said the only option avail able to the board was a judicial review, which requires a barrister to make the case to a judge.

Another board member Cllr Bob Derbyshire from Cardiff, said the hoard had agreed to Seek barristers advice.

Late in 2012 the Wales Audit Office detailed a list of irregularities at the board, which paid thousands for trips abroad for us members and occasionally acted un lawfully.

Paul Flvnn. MP for New port West, said "It does seem to be a waste of public money."

Comments (4)

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2:49pm Sat 28 Dec 13

scraptheWAG says...

and paul flynn should know him and his labour cronies are experts at it.
and paul flynn should know him and his labour cronies are experts at it. scraptheWAG

9:44pm Sat 28 Dec 13

TK355 says...

"A waste of public money?"
Remember those words SWA and remember it only relates to a mere £5,000.
Remember that.
"A waste of public money?" Remember those words SWA and remember it only relates to a mere £5,000. Remember that. TK355

4:58am Sun 29 Dec 13

snafu1 says...

" Could do what it liked with its resources" that statements summed it up ,they could not care less when it comes to public money,gravy train derailed
" Could do what it liked with its resources" that statements summed it up ,they could not care less when it comes to public money,gravy train derailed snafu1

10:05am Sun 29 Dec 13

Banjalucka says...

Get rid of them. Antiquated body with grandiose ideas.
Get rid of them. Antiquated body with grandiose ideas. Banjalucka

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