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West Norfolk Council calls for review of its annual funding to Internal Drainage Board

A council is battling for change over its “unfair” £3m annual funding to a group that manages the region’s waterways.

Internal Drainage Boards (IDB), which manage water levels and undertake works to reduce flood risks, currently get half of their contributions from West Norfolk Council.

But the authority is calling for this to be reviewed amid challenges in balancing the books.

King's Lynn IDB
King's Lynn IDB

According to a report to the council, Chris Morley, cabinet member for finance, has been part of a lobby group looking to secure more support from central government to cover the costs.

IDBs in England play an important role in helping drain agricultural land, roads, railways and motorways, at a cost of £46m.

But their practices in West Norfolk have come under fire in recent years by environmentalists, who have criticised the management of rare chalk streams, believing their practices cause damage to the natural habitat.

The council has written to the secretary of state for local government to argue the current funding model of the IDBs is “unfair and disproportionate”.

There are more than 10 different IDBs, each covering different catchment areas in Norfolk.

In West Norfolk, an area prone to flooding, there are seven different organisations, each requiring funding from West Norfolk Council. Other sources of contributions include landowners and farmers.

Councils were previously reimbursed for IDB levies but this support has dropped to zero since 2013.

The call for a rethink on the issue comes as West Norfolk Council has reported a rise in revenue costs, which are expected to leave the authority with a deficit of £500,000 by the end of the financial year.

It has meant money from its reserves has had to be used to plug the gap.

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