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Discussion Topic: Ask JP - Recapitulation
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(These are the questions put to, and the answers from, John Packman, CEO of the Broads Authority, in the first Ask JP session on 28 April. Please do not use this thread for further discussion - any further comments can be added to the original threads, which can be found here . Thank you.)
Q.1 What is the legal Position/Responsibility of the BA and relevant landowners regarding tree felling etc and could this be used as a lever to obtain more moorings.
A. The Broads Authority does not have any power to charge for tree felling, but can require access to land to remove dangerous and/or overhanging trees. I am not entirely sure how this could be used as a lever for moorings however.
Q.2 When is a sail craft under power
1 sail up engine on but not in gear
2 sail up engine on and in gear
A. Engine on is kind of a clue!
Q.3 why is the ba so keen to become a national park, or a member of the family.
What is to be gained?
A. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988 gave the Broads an equivalent status to that of the National Parks designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, so the Broads is already a Member of the National Park family.
At the meeting in January 2015 the Broads Authority resolved:
that the brand “Broads National Park” be adopted for marketing related purposes with immediate effect using the powers in Section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972;
in line with the suggestions from the Broads Hire Boat Federation & the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association, not to pursue the ambition in the Broads Plan 2011 for the Broads to become a national park in law;
Page 6 of the report for the January meeting has a table which sets out some of the benefits of using the National Park branding.
You kind find it via this link:
Q.4 Yachts attract a lower Toll for a number of reasons, Environmental and the fact that they produce less wash and hence less damage to the banks being a coupl. However many Yachts are equiped with auxilory engines and use them on a regular basis this and the fact that the Authority seems to spend a significant amount each year on dredging areas primarily for the benefit of Yachts seems to me to out weigh the justification for the lower Toll rating. Isn't it time that the Tolls for Yachts were brought in line with the Tolls for motor powered vessels?
A. There is a current Member review of the tolls structure underway. I don't think I will be betraying any confidences to say that, having listened to their debates, I have noted that the whole issue of different levels of discount for different types of craft has proved extremely problematic and I don't know how it will end up.
Q.5 A few years ago you tried a Phoslock water treatment on Crome Broad.
Have you had any results from this trial?
A. Monthly water quality sampling has been undertaken by the Broads Authority between; 2013-2015, to monitor the success of the Phoslock application. Results show that overall phosphate levels in Cromes Broad have reduced, however winter peaks in soluble phosphates (originating from septic tanks and agricultural sources) are still occurring. This is particularly noticeable in the north basin situated close to septic tank phosphate sources.
The Broads Authority and the Environment Agency have been investigating septic tank issues, however long term solutions to the problem are required in order to fully restore high water quality to the lake.
Q.6 The bank erosion and general damage caused by wakeboard boats running under the water skiing banner is far more severe. These boats run at maximum wash so the 'skier' can jump the wash. This wash turned our towed dinghy over completely (and it was a proper lugsail dingh, not an inflatable)
Maybe BA could look at wakeboarding more closely.
A. If anyone comes across someone wakeboarding or water-skiing and creating an unreasonable wash then I would encourage them to contact Broads Control (01603 -756056).
A wash of more than 300mm at the bank is contrary to the water-skiing permit conditions and all light sports vessels have to pass a wash test before a permit is granted.
Q.7 With B.A. closing Breydon for what ever reasons since they took control are we not heading for the situation that we start to assume that if the rangers are not there turning boats back it would be deemed safe to cross irrespective of the conditions.
An inexperienced helm could, rightly, decide that, knowing the rangers take such action in adverse conditions, it is safe to proceed.
At the point you take responsibility it would seem unreasonable to just switch that responsibility on and off according to your working hours.
A. Ultimately the responsibility rests with the individual helm.
We advise hire boats not to cross Breydon Water in times of adverse weather conditions, e.g. high winds or fog. I am not aware of anyone trying to cross when the weather has been really bad.
Consequently, I don't think we have used our Special Direction power to close Breydon since the navigation responsibility for the area was transferred to the Authority.
We provide cover for high water between 8:00 and 18:00 during the season giving advice to all boats about whether it is safe to transit Breydon and pass under the two bridges on the Bure.
We also provide advice and guidance on safely crossing Breydon in Broadcaster, in a special leaflet and in the NSBA's Green Book. Our staff at the Great Yarmouth Yacht Station also provide direct advice - largely to hirers - about the state of the tide and the best time to go across.
Even so, I am amazed, when I have been out on the Spirit of Breydon, at the number of hirers who think they can get under the bridges when it is obvious that can't be the case.
Q.8 I know this has been a very emotive issue but on various forum allegations of malpractice by the B.A. and its employees have been made, does the B.A. intend to take action against the people who have made these allegations.
I understand if this question cannot be answered at this time.
A. We are not planning any legal action as it would not an effective use of our time and resources.
But you are correct. We are appalled about the way this campaign has been conducted effectively as a smear campaign. We take a very dim view of the personal insults directed at our Members and members of staff and the continuing posting of misinformation.
Anyone who wants to appraise themselves of the facts of the matter can look at your documented timeline and background on the website.
Here is the link.
We have not received a planning application.
I am not a close friend of Trevor Warren either by the way!
Q.9 When the new Authority web site went live I was told that archive information would be transferred from the previous site to the new one. While a certain amount of historical data has been transferred, there is still a long way to go.
Is this process still on-going, or has it been quietly shelved?
A. Archived committee papers over the past three years have been transferred, as this was how far back we were advised to go by digital experts, based on usage statistics, bandwidth and our resources. Committee papers further back than this can be requested from our committees team. Navigation Committee papers go back on line as far as 2009.
As far as I know there is no other information that is outstanding, but you may want to specify exactly what you are referring to if this hasn’t been addressed.
Q.10 On 31 March 2016, I paid the 2016-2017 toll for one of my craft by cheque, enclosed in a letter to the CEO including the following observations:
“… the reduction in the multiplier for weekly hired craft from 2.62 to 2.55 means a 5.8% increase for private boat tolls and a 2.3% increase for hire boats. Stated reasons for this differential include “the ongoing decline in hire boats on the Broads and information from the Broads Hire Boat Federation that another 20 to 30 boats are likely to leave the industry next year” and “the importance of the hire boat industry to the local economy and the pressures upon it economy”.
This is rather given the lie to by reports such as “latest figures from Herbert Woods show that bookings have shot up by 40% for picnic boat hires” and that, even if true, the running costs of these 20 to 30 boats will be saved as a consequence of their not being discouraged from building bigger and bigger craft to replace decommissioned older ones.
I feel that the importance of the hire boat industry to local services and businesses in comparison to the private boat fleet is somewhat exaggerated. How many people are actually employed by the hire companies? More or fewer than all the boatyards and marinas which service private boats? Who spends most money on accessories, electronic equipment, clothing? Who are the customers of yacht brokers, marinas? Over the course of a year, do Fred, Flo and Fido spend more in restaurants and pubs than the crews of expensive yachts?
It is particularly incongruous that the toll on my boat's tender (“T/T Luise”, reg. no. 285X), used perhaps once or twice a year, should be increased more than a 45' hire craft occupying scarce mooring places to the maximum.
I shall not be renewing its toll this year, a loss of £99.32 to the Broads Authority and one less customer for Marine Tech or C.C. Marine who would have serviced its outboard motor”
My tolls payment was receipted by the Tolls Office with a hand-written note to the effect that my letter had been passed to the CEO for reply. To date, no reply has been received. May I expect one?
Since then, yet another small hire firm has ceased trading…
Can we be assured that Broads Authority decisions aren't unduly influenced by the increasingly dominant position of the larger hire companies?
A. Apologies for not replying to your letter before now – sorry we have been really busy.
I have tracked it down and will try and answer your points here.
The recommendation regarding the reduction in the hire boat multiplier by the Navigation Committee was initiated by Members following the Authority’s survey of hire boat operators and private boat owners. They recognise that both private owners and the hire boat fleet make important contributions to the local economy but have been concerned about the on-going decline in hire boat numbers.
I am sure you are right in suggesting that the large yards which have often diversified are in a reasonable financial position. However, at the other end of the scale we are continuing to see the closure of small yards and the consequential loss of toll income.
We review the charges on an annual basis and this year a group of Members is looking at the whole structure of the tolls. This is one of the issues they are considering.
In terms of the detail:
• My understanding is that picnic boats are not booked any more than two or three days in advance, so I am unsure where the figure of 40% increase at Herbert Woods came from.
• In addition to the predicted reduction of 20-30 hire boats this season, for which the Authority budgeted a £20k reduction in hire income, we have seen the closure of one yard in the southern broads and a significant scaling back of another. This year’s hire income is approximately £50k lower than the already reduced budget figure, a full analysis of the reduction is yet to take place.
• A typical 45 foot hire cruiser (45’x12’ = 50m2) had an increase of £33.33 this year, an entry level private motor boat had an increase of £5.04
Q.11 It is rumoured that the bridge height gauges are not entirely accurate, but set with a margin of error. Is that the case? and if so by what margin are they out? and is that margin the same at all bridges? I realise that gauges do get knocked and there might be a tendency to err on the side of caution when setting the gauges, but as I know the exact height of my boat, it would be useful to know at any time, the accurate clearance under any given bridge. Personally I feel it would be much better to have 100% accurate height gauges rather than having to factor in that they are normally out by anything up to 6 inches.
A. We continually monitor each gauge board to ensure it is showing the correct clearance for the bridge. The level at which each gauge board is set to take into account the effect of the tide and river flow both pushing the water against and away from the boards which can cause small variations in readings depending on the direction and strength of the tide and flow. To achieve this, detailed measurements are taken at all states of the tide to ensure accuracy. The height given on the gauge boards should be taken as an accurate measure of the height available under the bridges.
Q.12 Could you tell us the number of tolled boats last year.
Hire craft powered ?
Hire craft unpowered?
Private powered craft?
Private unpowered craft?
What number do you expect for this year?
A. The number of registered boats last year was as follows:
Hire craft powered 1174
Hire craft unpowered 308
Private powered craft 7935
Private unpowered craft 2756
We expect about the same number this year for private craft but slightly less for hire craft.
We are carrying out more tolls checks and starting them earlier this year. We have also got some large sticky wallets to attach notice paperwork to non-compliant boats to make it clear to other boat owners we are dealing with any untolled boats.
Q.13 When The BA were given permision to re brand as a National Park it was stated that the ambition to become a Full Member of the National Parks would be dropped, in the light of recent events can JP assure us that is still the case and the ambition to attain full NP status will not be included in the New Broads Plan?
A. I have reviewed the consultation responses to the new Draft Broads Plan and will not be recommending to the Members any change in the current policy of not pursuing a change in legal status as adopted at the January 2015 meeting.
Q.14 When Breydon Water came under the remit of GYPA, it could be argued that there was a 7 knot speed limit on entering the harbour, which probably continued until the BA executive area on the lower Bure, Yare and Waveney. Since the BA have taken over responsibility for Breydon Water, the BA speed limit byelaws have not been updated and there is effectively now no speed limit for the area that has been transferred from the GYPA, which includes the lower Bure past the yacht station. Other byelaws regarding safe navigation obviously would / could be applied.
Are there any plans to review the speed limit byelaws with regard to the transferred area, and in particular any plans to introduce a speed limit across Breydon, if none exists? Can you clarify once and for all whether there is currently a speed limit across Breydon?
A. You are correct in that there is no speed limit on Breydon and there are no plans to introduce one. However you are also right in that other byelaws apply to this area and cover this aspect, specifically the one relating to care and caution.
Q.15 Can you confirm that the Sandford Principle will never be applied to the Broads area?
A. At the meeting in January 2015 the Broads Authority resolved as follows:
"for the avoidance of doubt, the Authority indicates that it has no intention of seeking the application of the Sandford Principle to the Broads Authority’s functions because it is of the view that the Habitats Regulations provide sufficient protection for the very special qualities of the area;"
A legislative change would be required to apply the Sandford Principle to the Broads and I can't see the Broads Authority ever promoting such an idea.
Q.16 Can you tell us the advantages of driving the piles down in Upton Dyke and if you can think of any advantages that it may have to the traditional business at the end of the dyke which we believe is under new management.
A. My understanding (I am not an engineer) is that there are two main benefits of driving the piles into the bed of the river: (i) it is cheaper/easier rather than trying to draw them out (ii) it provides some level of greater stability for the flood embankment above it.
The work is being carried out by BESL (Broadland Environmental Services Ltd) on behalf of the Environment Agency.
I hope the new owners of the business at the end of the dyke flourish. They will continue to benefit from the flood defences.
Q.17 I and I am sure many others are interested in the day to day work carried out by the 'BA' Please could we have more information on the blog.
Tree cutting - dyke clearing - boat recovery from river beds – etc. It would be nice to read about the many facets of the Broads Authority with perhaps the odd photo or two.
A. Many thanks for that feedback.
I am really pleased that you enjoy the blog.
I am looking at how we can use social media better.
We are also working on updating this photo gallery, enjoy!
Q.18 I have no official relationship with any authority in the Broads area, as I live elsewhere. When BA meets with the authorities re waste disposal, do you feel BA actually represent boaters? We have the opportunity to spend weeks on our private boat, without returning to our moorings. We are faced with the prospect of cruising around with weeks of rubbish, hoping to find a mooring near a bin (where else would you be expected to plan your holiday route by where you may be able to dump rubbish?) We will not fly tip, as many won't (hence your comment elsewhere regarding no reports). If I want to go into Norwich or Yarmouth, we will go by public transport.
Do you feel you are taking this matter seriously enough and representing this to the relevant authorities?
A. We represent all our users. Please see my other replies to the posts about waste. As I have said elsewhere, my Members take the position regarding the collection of waste very seriously.
Q.19 I own a number of old broads cruisers, all wooden and mostly from the 60's. They all used to fit under Potter Bridge week in week out when in the hire fleets yet now we struggle time and time again for clearance.
Whilst I accept we are seeing climate change and possibly rising sea levels(an inch in 50 years so maybe not that relevant here), my question refers to the seemingly total lack of dredging of the lower Bure leading to artificially high water levels on the northern rivers and subsequent loss of access through Potter, Wroxham and on occasions Ludham bridges. Its not a case of buying the wrong boat - these have been on the network for decades!
Yes, I accept that some small amount of work has been done but the torrent of water we experience through Yarmouth twice a day surely must suggest that the water is trying to escape but the flow is restricted.
I've been on the broads for close to 40 years now and the situation is just getting worse and worse.
In the meantime we have a yacht stuck on its mooring at Catfield that we cant get out of the dyke because of running aground. We have just paid for another years toll which, I believe, is for access to the whole network not just Catfield Dyke?
I seriously wonder whether navigation is a priority still?
A. In the last 3 years the BA has dredged over 70,000m3 from the river Bure, however the modelling that we carried out as part of the Sediment Management Strategy showed that dredging has minimal impact on water levels.
In fact, the Bure Loop acts a throttle in the system and restricts the flow of water heading upstream from Great Yarmouth which is why the waterway specification was restricted by agreement with Natural England to reduce the potential for saline incursion.
Generally speaking, water levels are more influenced by atmospheric conditions and rainfall in headwaters and there is good evidence from the bridge pilot records at Potter Heigham that water levels have increased over the last 30 years.
We have also spent a lot of time, energy and money in agreeing a vision for Hickling which is allowing us to carry out dredging on this very sensitive site, and will include Catfield Dyke in a later phase.
Q.20 The refurbishment of Turn Tide Jetty was completed last year at a cost of £357,000. Is this cost borne entirely out of the navigation budget, or was any contribution made by the port as part of the negotiations to take over responsibility for Breydon Water and its structures?
A. The costs for Turntide Jetty were all funded from navigation income. It is worth noting that on transferring the responsibility for Breydon Water to us the Port Authority paid an endowment of £50,000 and the repairs to Turntide Jetty was the most significant item in the list of dilapidations.
Q.21 Every year there is usually an issue that has a major impact on river users. This could be flooding, emergency issues, police matters, weather incidents.
River control usually knows what is going on, but rather than them fielding loads of calls from people, or the rangers having to intercept users. Is it not possible for them to broadcast urgent news.
I realise that a TXT service would be very expensive, but most mobile phones (ok, not my steam powered one) can get emails.
Usually when there is a major issue, people come to this Forum to get an update.
A. The Tide to Text service was very underused so we had to abandon it. We do have a email service for notices to mariners, and you can request to be added to this by contacting us here. http://www.broads-authority.gov.uk/contact-us
But in all honestly flooding, police matters and weather incidents are dealt with and communicated by other organisations.
However we do recognise we could be more active in promoting our own messages – for example the recent Breydon Water closure – and getting other organisations’ alerts out there so are looking at how our social media is used. We are already making small steps with this with our Great Yarmouth Yacht Station team sending out tide times daily via the Enjoy the Broads Facebook page and on the Norfolk Broads News Facebook site.
Q.22 Over the past few years when tolls have gone up, the BA have said it's for a special project. Such as SOB, dredging Breydon, soe park projects.
As these are "one-time" costs, shouldn't the tolls come down after the project is complete?
A. The Authority looks at the level of navigation charges in October each year for the following year. At that stage we have a good idea of what the final level of income will be and what allowance we have to make for any loss of income, from the reduction in the number of hire boats for example.
We also have a feel for what pressures we might have for expenditure the following year which will include big projects like Turntide Jetty or the on-going work in Hickling.
We take a report to the Navigation Committee setting out these factors and seek their views on the level of increase for the following year. In almost every year the Broads Authority has accepted the recommendations of the Navigation Committee when it comes to set the tolls in November.
As always it is a balancing act between the desire for more expenditure to fund more activity against trying to moderate the increase of charges on our toll payers.
Q.23 Due to cuts in funding it appears that most of the councils that have Broads rivers in their area have removed a large number of the skips that river users use to dispose of their rubbish.
While I understand their problems, and it's not the BA's responsibility to remove rubbish is it not possible for the BA to in some way facilitate these skips being restored?
Private boaters can always take their rubbish back to their home moorings, but hire users cannot.
Emptying a standard 1100 litre skip only costs about £15. Even with a hirecraft with 12 people on board they would be hard pushed to create that amount of rubbish, and they've probably paid over £2,000 for the boat hire.
Would it be possible for the BA to find a way to get rubbish disposal sorted, at least during the high season when the majority of hirecraft are out on the rivers?
A. The costs of replacing all the local council facilities in the Broads would be between £70,000 and £80,000 per year. The problems with waste collection in the area has been discussed with the Broads Forum and the Navigation Committee and there has been a consensus that these costs should not be picked up by toll payers.
In the meeting of the Navigation Committee in October 2014 when we discussed this year's budget (2016/17) the Members did not support making financial provision for waste collection when setting the tolls.
The Authority now provides the facilities at Ranworth, and has increased the number of bins/ collection frequency Great Yarmouth Yacht Station and Norwich last season, which is costing an additional approximately £5,000 - £6,0000 per year. We have also installed a new solar powered compactor bin at Ranworth as a trial of this technology.
Q.24 I have been told that a ranger recently informed a member of the public that the Broads is now officially a national park. While Defra and the High Court may have agreed that the term may be used for marketing purposes, the FACT remains that the Broads is not legally (nor officially) a national park.
What advice has been given to officers, members, general staff, and, in particular, those at the sharp end (rangers and Information Office staff) regarding informing members of the public about the truthful and actual status of the Broads?
A. I would be surprised if a Ranger had given out that information. They have a very good understanding of the position.
I have sent a copy of the judgement to all Members and all members of staff. I have also briefed them on the fact that while the Broads is not legally a national park the High Court has supported the Authority's decision in using the term Broads National Park when describing the area for marketing purposes.
This week I have reinforced this message in a presentation to all members of staff. We will be preparing a note for Members, members of staff, our volunteers, members of Broads Tourism and the general public so they have an accurate understanding of the situation.
If you want to contact me privately with any more details I can make sure that this individual is fully familiar with the situation.
Q.25 To the casual observer it appears that the Navigation Committee exists only as a way of making it appear that they exist only to follow the party line of the BA, and if they disagree the members will be forced to leave or kicked off.
A. The meetings of the Navigation Committee are open to the public and I suggest you might like to come and observe the Members in action. I think you would quickly come to a different conclusion - far from following a party line, they ask challenging questions and do not always agree with the officers' views.
I am not aware of any Members being "kicked off" the Navigation Committee.
Q.26 Would there be any plans in the future for the ba river patrols to do any late afternoon/ early evening patrols during the peak season weeks ? When at times unfortunately do get hireboats out late or those who decide to come out the pub and decide to try and make to a long distance stop for the night before 1 hour of light left ?
A. We already do carry out late night patrols.
There are on average 9 patrols a week between Easter and the late October half term. Obviously not all areas are covered at one time but we endeavour to cover those that are busiest on any particular evening.
"..for the avoidance of any doubt, the broads are not legally a national park and do not come under the national park legislation, and nor will they."
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for DEFRA (Hansard 2015)
This message was edited by Paladine on May-24-16 @ 9:12 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
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Very well done Mr P.
I was hoping that I could find time to do just that but
I doubt it would have been anytime soon.
It must have taken some time to do, so many thanks for
taking the time and effort to do it, so many thanks.
The older I get...
The better I was....!!
Joined: Aug 2004
Many thanks Pally, that is a great resource
Joined: Sep 2013
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Thank you, a very helpful post.
We love the Broads
Joined: Aug 2014
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I can confirm Q12 section re checking tolled boats early is happening, a boat moored at the boatyard I use has had a non compliance "sticky" attached !
By the way very good summary Paladine, thanks.
Freeman F23 moored near
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