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Written Statement - Internal Drainage Boards

Alun Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food

I want to set out the next steps which I am taking to address issues raised by the lack of leadership and integrity identified by the inquiry into the Caldicot and Wentlooge Internal Drainage Board. These issues were set out in the highly critical Wales Audit Office report in October 2012, and are currently being examined by the Public Accounts Committee.

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 (the senior manager) 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.