Public Accounts Committee

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A public body responsible for ensuring the Gwent Levels do not flood "became a self-interest group", said a former member of the board.

James Harris was giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on 18 June 2013 on the Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board.

The Wales Audit Office (WAO) found the Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board misused public funds and was badly managed for years

The board manages drainage systems on the Gwent Levels - an area of low-lying coastal land between Cardiff and Chepstow, south of the M4 and bordered by the Severn estuary.

Last October a WAO report detailed examples of spending which it described as "contrary to law".

Mr Harris said the board had "wanted to remain an independent group, but were ready to take the revenue support grants".

He called for greater transparency, allowing more public participation.

In 2005, 37 people went on a three-day inspection visit to Venice, including 13 staff and board members and 21 guests, mainly spouses or relatives.

Although it involved visits to wetlands and drainage works, the report said the trip, which cost the board £4,333, was "primarily designed as a celebratory event".

Another excursion to Northern Ireland for 28 people in 2008, which included a visit to a distillery and the Giants Causeway, cost more than £4,700.

The report also said the board's former clerk and engineer, Dean Jackson-Johns, was involved in submitting proposals about his own pay to board committees.

Darllenwch hwn yn Gymraeg

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