Thursday 24 December 2015

Tripe Island - The Full Feral Facts

An Official Press Statement from the Blessed Authority


Planning consent is at the heart of the issue at Tripe Island. The landowner Roger Bush has flouted our special interpretation of planning laws by refusing to ask permission for something which already has permission. We ask any person who we don't like to do this, as it gives us a thrill. Instead, for four years he has continued to allow boats to moor in his marina, as though the mere existence of planning permission and a legal agreement with ourselves requiring the marina to be used for the mooring of boats could imply that we condone any such activity.

We have tried to work with him over the years to avoid action but to no avail. Despite our repeated assurances that we would turn down any new request for mooring boats in his mooring basin, he failed to make an application for us to refuse. Last year, despite our best efforts, Mr Bush was told he could have permission for 25 boat moorings - though this was subject to deliberately impossible conditions, which he inexplicably rejected. Mr Bush must learn that he is not above the law - only the Blessed Authority is above the law.

The situation has been misrepresented, it is absolutely not an attempt to “gentrify” or “socially cleanse”, in fact we have a long and proud history of banning promoting residential moorings throughout the Broads. The accusation that we are building a marina is completely fabricated, as we wouldn't know where to start. Our concern is simply that we can't ignore a bunch of nimbys who bought expensive houses by the river but don't like boats. They asked us to persecute Mr Bush, it seemed like a good idea at the time and we think it's £110,000 of your taxes well spent.

No-one is being evicted over Christmas, and we can't understand why a hand-delivered letter from a public authority asking residents to leave could possibly be construed as anything other than a friendly Yuletide greeting. After we've enjoyed our Christmas break we will of course return to cleansing the island with renewed vigour.

Electricity and water

We were not aware until recently that Mr Bush was supplying electricity and water, even though he did tell us. We now know that the supply is through solar panels installed on a small trailer which we like to call a large container. This "container" has been part of the persecution case since it started in 2011, and we still want it removed even though we can't say why. Mr Bush did apply for planning permission for this "container" but it made our brains hurt to think about it, so we sent his form back.

Complaint against Blessed Authority Chairman

The Authority’s Monitoring Officer will fully investigate the allegations against Chairperson Granny Spokesperson. We can categorically and unreservedly state now however that she did not describe the residents of Thorpe Island as ‘feral’, the word she used was in fact 'savages'.

Although she did make a comment about shanty towns, this was made in the context of singing jolly sea shanties in her new jointly owned boat and had nothing to do with Tripe Island. We did run the boat purchase past our Monitoring Officer on his last day before leaving the Blessed Authority in disgust, and he said "do what you like, it's not like you pay any attention to anything I tell you anyway." 

We would like to wish everyone living on Tripe Island a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

A shanty town, yesterday
In the interests of balance, the original unedited version of 'Full Facts' can be found here on the Blessed Authority's website.

Friday 11 December 2015

The Wrong Policy

What happens when the wrong sort of person uses the right sort of policy? Well that’s exactly what happened at the Blessed Authority last week and your faithful reporter Fenny the Fen Raft Spider was there to bring you this exclusive story first.

I crept into the Waveney Room and settled comfortably on my favourite chair. As a rare and charismatic species, I have a duty to look after myself properly, I’m sure you’ll agree.

“Application for determination Ba-Ba Black Sheep Can I Have a Tea House Because My Agent Is A Former Employee Of The Authority?”, the first application was duly announced.

“Excuse me Sir, It’s against planning policy to approve this one”, piped up a lesser amongst equals.

“Not to worry”, said a Blessed One. “The agent is an all round smashing guy and we love everything he does. “

“Approved” chorused the Members.

“And now application Ba-Ba Black Sheep Can I Have Some Residential Moorings You Told Me You Were Comfortable With back in June?” , the second application was obviously going to be interesting. “Applicant is Don Quixote de Burgh St. Peter and I would like to declare on behalf of the Authority, that we’re not allowed to like him much at all. “

A low muttering could be heard from the Member’s side of the room. I thought I could faintly hear the words “chancer” and “not again” and knew instantly I was right to risk life and limb to be here.

“Well,”, said a Blessed One, “we thought we were comfortable with this application, but it turns out we don’t think he’s the right sort of person to be using one of our policies and if we let him use it, he’ll bring his friends and they’ll all start wanting to use our policies to get what they want. It just won’t do. We’d be setting a dangerous precedent. ”

A typical Broads "live aboard", yesterday
“Refuse it!”, whispered Dr. Pikeman. “There’ll be nothing but trouble if you don’t. “

“But we can’t”, moaned a spokesperson. “We can’t let it get out in the public domain that we make promises and then go back on them. ”

“It’s already in the public domain”, I heard a gravelly voice growl, as I scrambled for my life to avoid a rapidly descending posterior of a large man I hadn’t heard enter the room. I spun around to see, well, what a shock this was, none other than Roger Bush, the blighted owner of Tripe Island. I tell you now, my gentle friends, I quivered like a leaf on my many legs. Roger is in enough trouble already without having the wrath of the Divine Ecologist upon him for sitting on a rare species!
What would members do? Would they have the strength of character to determine the application on its merits? Or would they bow to their fear of setting a precedent and allowing Mr. Bush to get a piece of the action?

In the end, they did both.

Ignoring the screams of anguish from the floor above, the application was approved, but tied up in enough conditions to make a corkscrew proud.

I caught up with Don Quixote de Burgh St. Peter in the pub afterwards, and he had this to say. “ The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water. Thou hast seen nothing yet."

Sunday 22 November 2015

Brave Members Reject Assault on Free Speech

“I’m bored!”, exclaimed a more equal member of the Blessed Authority, “These questions from the public are the same every single meeting, somebody do something before I fall asleep at my desk!”

“We could try and answer the questions properly and act on them accordingly”, offered a lesser amongst equals. “I'm fed up with this business of hearing the question and being told the answer before I've had a chance to say anything.”

“That’s just potty”, said a voice, “we simply need to change how we want the public to participate, that’s all!”

“I have the solution”, purred Dr. Pikeman, “leave it to me, I shall confer with the Great Brethren of Blessed Parks, they will surely give me guidance, so we can become more like them in every way.”

So, proposals to limit public participation at the Blessed Authority's meetings were firmly presented to Members this week - who, somewhat remarkably, sat on them just as firmly.

Never one to miss an opportunity to restrict free speech, Dr Pikeman saw the request as a mandate to prevent anyone from petitioning the Authority, restricting what sort of question could be asked - and even bypassing Members entirely when the questioner couldn't be at the meeting.

“Meetings are a place where Members conduct business of the Authority and really don’t need to be distracted by the public interfering with the carefully engineered decisions I need them to make. If Members notice there are alternatives to Option 1 (Save the Authority by charging more and delivering less), or Option 2 (Doom the Authority and all it holds dear to a fate worse than death by not choosing Option 1) then there’ll be a riot.”

Former senior member Dave Pond commented that the Authority is "not a democratic and accountable organisation in the first place" and that the proposal was "unnecessarily provocative".

In an unprecedented last minute rebellion, however, Members decided that enough was enough after all and the proposals were taking a ridiculous step too far, even by the Blessed Authority’s standards.

"It's the complete opposite of what we asked for" complained one new Member.

“Get used to it” whispered the fen raft spider which had fallen off the Divine Ecologist’s skirt earlier in the meeting.

“Of course, we accept the will of the Members” said an official spokesperson, with her fingers firmly crossed behind her back. “We didn't want to limit engagement, just improve efficiency.”

Saturday 14 November 2015

Something Fishy at Thorpe Island

There I was, minding my own business the other day, having a little swim up towards Norwich and I thought I'd look in at Thorpe Island to visit some of my old chums.

Well, I hadn't been there more than a few minutes before someone stuck a piece of paper to my dorsal fin, which said I couldn't swim there anymore; apparently I was in breach of some kind of enforcement notice and fish like me "adversely affect the character and appearance of the conservation area and local amenity". Chatting to some of the other fish, it seems like there's some bloke with a big house nearby who doesn't think that fish have any right to live in marinas, especially not the ones he doesn't like the look of. So he's made a lot of noise about it to some important people and now all the fish have been told to leave or face the direst consequences.

Apparently, the little fishes had been left alone until the man who owned the basin thought it would be a good idea to repair it and make it look all nice again, to encourage the best sort of fish to swim there. But that frightened the natives, who complained that they didn't want to see more fish in the marina, so the Blessed Authority sent their man to stop the improvements and tell the fishes that they couldn't swim there any more. Well this didn't seem very fair to the poor man who'd bought the marina for his retirement, so he tried to carry on anyway - but the more he tried to improve things, the more people tried to stop him and frightened all his fishes away. And so now only the oldest and most unpopular fish go to swim in the marina, and they can't afford to pay much, so the man hasn't got the money to improve it. And all the money he did have went on fighting the bullies trying to stop him. And really this just doesn't smell at all right to me.

Believe it or not, the Blessed Authority says that the basin has been abandoned and can't be used by fish for swimming any more. Despite fish having swum in it every day from the day it was dug (I remember swimming in it 40 years ago). And despite it being made for the express purpose of having fish swim in it. And - get this - despite the Blessed ones signing something in 1985 which said that the basin can only be used for the swimming of fish. They signed this when they allowed those big houses to be built; that's right, including the one whose owner doesn't like looking at all the fishes who were there before he was. So here is a basin which is restricted to the swimming of fish, but the Blessed Authority say that it can't be used for that, even though they said that this was the only thing it could be used for. It's enough to confuse a fish.

To make things even more complicated, Tripe Town Council want the Blessed Authority to compulsorily purchase the island from the landowner and make it a fish free zone. ”It has been scientifically proven that too many small fish in the area spoil our election results so urgent action is required.” said a spokesperson.

I wonder what the Blessed Authority - and TTC - want to happen here? Once they've finished frightening the fishes away and chopping the poor man up into little pieces and jumping up and down on his remains, what will become of the basin? What can it be used for, if not for fish swimming? Who will repair the quay heading once it starts falling into the river? How much will it all cost? And who will be paying the bill?

Something fishy's going on here, or my name's not Eduardo "Fins" McPike.

When is a basin not a basin…?

Saturday 24 October 2015

Presidential task force to tackle tolls

The Broads Authority has announced the creation of a Tolls Task Force charged with shaking up the Broads tolls regime.

Originally, the "Select Committee" was to be open to any Member interested in formulating a new, fairer, tolls system. Quickly realising that this could result in the wrong ideas being put forward, however, the Presidential team instead selected their own personal task force, charged with moving the deck chairs for the 4th time in as many years. "We don't want anyone coming up with any harebrained or potty ideas" commented one senior source.

In appointing the task force, it was felt important to be as inclusive as possible, and therefore 6 people were carefully selected according to height, hair colour and shoe size to ensure fair representation, and to include those both with and without any relevant knowledge. “We think it's particularly important to have a couple of people who don't know anything at all about the subject” said the source, “to ensure that we have a statistically significant range of opinions to ignore."

The tolls issue raises its head every year, as private and hire boat toll payers are pitched into an argument about who should pay more and how big the multiplier should be. Last year, not satisfied with the range of free expertise already available to it, the Authority decided to ‘invest’ £60,000 in a stakeholder survey designed to find out what toll payers really thought about the Authority and tolls. The results of this academically rigorous project were quite startling and the Authority learned many previously unknown and surprising facts about its stakeholders:
  • Most boat owners are relatively well off and tend not to come from deprived households
  • More people live close to their boats than far away
  • Satisfaction with the Authority varies in inverse proportion to the level of engagement with it
  • Some people think that tolls are good value, whilst others don't
  • Those paying the lowest tolls think that they get the best value
  • Most toll payers want more dredging and mooring maintenance
  • Private boat owners think that hire boats should pay more in tolls, whilst hire boat owners don't
  • Sailors often dislike hire boats and hire boat users do not understand sailors
  • Everyone hates anglers and water skiers
The data continues to be analysed by officers in the hope that some useful nugget of information may be gleaned which could actually be used to justify the expense of carrying out the work.

Meanwhile, Members of the Navigation Committee were, this week, given a range of choices on increasing tolls for 2016 and debated a number of sacrificial projects costing a total of £60,000 out of the £3.1 million annual tolls budget. Attempts to consider a reduction in the overall operations budget, to which tolls contribute steadily more each year, were strongly resisted, however. Eventually it was agreed to reduce the multiplier for hire boats (even though it was thought that they can claim all their tolls back from the Government as a tax rebate) and to increase tolls by the price of a round of drinks. This would ensure that owners of small boats would only have to find the equivalent of a couple of pints of cheap lager and a packet of pork scratchings, whilst the owners of gin palaces would forego the cost of one crate of Prosecco and a bowl of hummus.

Monday 12 October 2015

A Pike, Unmasked

Observant readers may recall that our hero has been held at Yeurgh House, bravely resisting questioning by his arch nemesis Dr John Pikeman.

Finally, his patience at an end, Dr P has torn the mask from his captive's face, expecting to see cowering before him a well known resident of the southern Broads.

Imagine his surprise to find - not "Our Eddie" - but an entirely different fish altogether. It's none other than that master of fishy disguise, Eduardo "Fins" McPike. Finally the pisces have fallen into plaice. Eduardo, the Broads National Pike, has cleverly been using Eddie's persona to conceal his true identity all this time!

"Err… so you're not Eddie then?" asked the confused Dr Pikeman.

"Of course I am not." said Eduardo, "How could you mistake me for that stupid idiotic fish? I hacked his account one time and told everyone he was a national pike, just for a joke. Why would anyone believe anything like that? Obviously it is I, Eduardo, who is the one true Broads National Pike. You can't be a National Pike just by calling yourself one, you know…"

Will Eduardo escape the clutches of Dr Pikeman and the Blessed Authority?

Will the river folk ever find out what really is going on in their name?

Will truth and justice finally be restored?

We'll just have to wait and see…

Wednesday 30 September 2015

The fate of a naughty fish

So, it came to pass that Eddie was betrayed, captured and brought before Dr. Pikeman and the three wise monkeys of the Blessed Authority.

Nailed to a discarded 24 hour mooring sign, Eddie blinked helplessly under the cold cruel stare of the un-smiling faces before him.

“What shall we do with this naughty fish?”, purred Dr Pikeman. “I’ve waited a long time to get my hands on him and here he is. Not feeling quite so clever now, are you Eddie?”
“Lets string him up outside the main entrance “ chuckled the first monkey, “He has ridiculed the Blessed Authority! Because of this fish, people point and laugh at me behind my back! ”
“I’ll second that”, smiled another. “It’s taken me all my life to get to gain some credibility and he’s ruining it all.!”

“But why am I here?”, asked Eddie, “I’ve done nothing wrong. Besides, shouldn’t this 24 hour mooring sign go back up again?”

“You have sinned against the Blessed Authority and broken its most sacred of rules!” , grumbled the third.

“B-b-but how? Even the Queen takes a joke these days”, sobbed Eddie. “You can’t do this!”

“No-one who enjoys the fruits of the toils of the Blessed Authority may speak against Her”, Dr. Pikeman said reasonably. “It’s just the way it is.”

“Where does it say so?” asked Eddie, getting braver. “Show me where it says I can’t tell the truth, even if you don’t like it?”

“Here it is”, said the second monkey scribbling on a piece of paper. “I propose it, do I have a seconder? Lovely, ... You Eddie, are banished from the Blessed Authority’s lands, for good!”
“That’s not fair”, protested Eddie. “it’s not as if…”

“Silence!!!!”, all three wise monkeys hissed at Eddie in one voice. “Silence, you annoying, obnoxious, irritating fish, you are guilty and we’re sending you far, far away, so we can pretend you don’t exist. ”

And so an expensive fish tank was commissioned, out of National Park Grant reserves, of course, to transport Eddie far, far away. As the secret train left the Berney Arms train halt in the dead of night, creatures big and small gathered in stunned silence, staring blankly as the moon lit train disappeared from view.

“Don’t let them forget me”, called Eddie, fins pressed against the reinforced glass of his watery dungeon. “Don’t let them get away with it”

“Poor Eddie”, sighed a dragonfly. “He was just trying to help us and everyone else who have nowhere else to live except here. We have to help him escape”

“That’s going to be difficult”, sighed an otter. “I think they’re taking him to Whitlngham. No-one ever goes to Whitlingham, it just can’t be done. It’s not even a proper Broad, poor Eddie....”

“Of course it can”, hooted an owl. “We’ll find him and bring him back. And in the mean time, we’ll have to keep up the good work!”

“Hooray!”, cheered the assembled friends,

“Excuse me”, piped up the little fen raft spider. “Can anyone tell me where this 24 hour mooring sign is supposed to go? ... where? .... Thurne Mouth? ... oh, I don’t think .... best put it in the bin then. What do you mean there aren’t any bins? Can someone please move this sign, I can only live on this blade of grass near this particular puddle and the sign’s squashing it ... anyone?... Please? ... Help!”

.... to be continued ....

Monday 10 August 2015

A Boggle At BewilderBroad

It was Mildred the Crocklebog's birthday and she was feeling a bit lonely down on the Scary Lake, so she decided to invite all her friends round for a special party.

Now, Crocklebogs live for a very long time and have really really good memories. Mildred was 150 years old and she thought it was about time she told everyone the truth about the Scary Lake.

"Lithen everyone" said Mildred, "I want to tell you all a thtory". The young Boggles and Twiggles got very excited when they heard this, and started trying to guess what the story would be. "Swampy's first visit to the Scary Lake" said one. "Moss getting lost in the Muddled Maze" tried another. "Shhhh" said the older ones.

"It'th none of thothe thtories, " said Mildred, "thith one ith all about the fun we had on the Thcary Lake when I wath young. It was thix feet deep, full of birdth and wildlife and you could even thail on it."

There was a gasp, and silence. Six feet deep? Sail on the Scary Lake? This was heresy. Nobody was allowed to take a boat on to the Scary Lake. Well, nobody except the owners, who said they hated boats. But really they just hated other people's boats.

"Yeth, " continued Mildred, "there were wherrieth, and keelth before that, and it used to be thuch fun waving to them when they thailed acroth the lake."

Well, what an exciting story this turned out to be. So the old legends were true! There really was a river outside the Scary lake, and you could sail in and out to far off places like Blorning and Troxham, where the Grockles went on their holidays.

"What happened? What happened?" burbled the Boggles. "Tell us!" squealed the Twiggles.

"Well, " said Mildred, " there wath thith big colony of gullth living on the Lake, and the ownerth liked having them there. Tho they dethided to thtop anyone thailing a boat on the lake."

There was a puzzled silence and then Swampy asked "But why would they do that? Everyone knows that boats and wildlife get along just fine."

"Yeth. " said Mildred. "It was a trick to clothe the lake tho that nobody elth could enjoy it. Nobody wath brave enough to argue and then the treeth thstarted growing all around the lake and before long everyone forgot that the river wath even there."

"So there really is a river?" asked Moss, thrilled.

"Oh yeth, " said Mildred, "and other laketh full of birdth and inthecth and all kindth of wildlife."

"Really? " asked Leaflette. "So why isn't our lake full of birds and insects and wildlife? Why is it all boggy and smelly?"

"I think I can explain that" said a slow, deep voice. Everyone turned to look at The Old Man Of The Marshes, who had crept in whilst they were listening to Mildred. "You see, these lakes aren't natural at all. They are really 'Broads', dug out by Boggles hundreds of years ago who needed peat to burn and keep warm."

"When they'd finished digging, they flooded the Broads," continued The Old Man Of The Marshes, "and the only reason they stayed like that was because boats sailed across them and kept everything stirred up and alive. Once the boats were gone, the Scary Lake got shallower and shallower and the water got murkier and murkier. Until now only Mildred the Crocklebog can live in it."

"But why hasn't someone looked after it?" asked Rosie.

"Well, sometimes humans don't look after things very well," said The Old Man Of The Marshes, " and they think that nature will take care of things for them. And when they realise they made a big mistake, they like someone else to come and pay for it to be fixed."

"And someone is going to?" asked Swampy, hopefully.

"Oh yes" said The Old Man Of The Marshes. "But the funny thing is - they still don't want the boats back."

"But that's ridiculous. " said Rosie. "We need the boats back on the Scary Lake as soon as we can. So  they can help bring it back to life, and we can get out and explore the Big River!"

"Yes" said The Old Man Of The Marshes. "And you young Boggles and Twiggles can help. You need to get over to and sign the petition on your MarshPads. No public money without public access!"

"No public money without public access!" agreed everyone, and gorged themselves on snozzleberries.

Sunday 19 July 2015

Persecution of houseboat owners continues unabated

Broads National Pike readers may recall the famous victory by Alan Fish against the Blessed Authority back in May, in which the toll for his barge Oddjob was ruled illegal.

His victory may be short-lived however as I'm told that the Authority has not only appealed against the ruling but is so confident of success that it has already slapped Mr Fish with a notice of contravention for failing to pay this year's illegal toll!

Keen to find out more about the 'live aboard' lifestyle, I had a bit of a poke around some other 'adjacent waters' and looked at some actual houseboats; you know the sort of thing - a house, but built on a raft. Not really a boat at all. Well, alright yes they float, but so do dead fish.

And guess what? Apparently, last September, the owners of these floating cabins were told by the BA that "under the strict wording of the act, your property does qualify as a house boat" - and were invited to sign up to pay a toll. But for what? You may well ask.

A houseboat, yesterday
Now, saying that they "qualify as a houseboat under the Act" is quite a brave thing to say, because the Act doesn't say anything about houseboats at all! And yet here in my fin is an official letter from the BA, saying that they've re-interpreted the words and decided that if your home floats in a private marina then welcome to tolls world. All part of Dr Pikeman's plan for "bringing in a little more money" no doubt!

I had a good old read through this Act thing and found a bit about rafts & pontoons and it says that permanent ones are exempt. But maybe a houseboat which has been chained to the bank, fixed with pile guides and connected to mains services for 40 years isn't permanent? Or maybe it just takes a cleverer fish than me to find the right page. Or maybe you just have to be really, really determined to take money from more people.

And listen - they've been told to get a Boat Safety Certificate too. Well, our intrepid reporter spoke to two Boat Safety Examiners and guess what. You can't issue a Boat Safety Certificate for something which isn't a boat. Who knew?

I wonder who'll be the next floating target for the ever expanding tolls net? Watch your backs, ducks.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Broads Authority Guilty of "Illegal Charges"

News has reached the BNP offices of a houseboat owner's historic victory over our Blessed Authority.

For 4 years, retired school teacher Alan Fish has been fighting a David & Goliath style battle against the forces of darkness, determined that people living on static house boats in private marinas should not have to pay navigation tolls.

The Broads Act 2009 gave the BA the right to register boats (for safety reasons) and to charge tolls in "adjacent waters" - leaving it up to the Authority to decide what tolls were appropriate in each case. "Adjacent waters" are waters attached to, but not part of, the main navigation area.

The BA decided that tolls in adjacent waters should be exactly the same as tolls in the navigation area - on the basis that all boats would be using the navigation area at some point - conveniently forgetting that static houseboats could do no such thing.

Mr Fish, owner of Dutch barge Oddjob moored at a secret location in the southern Broads, refused to pay the toll demanded on the basis that the BA didn't - and couldn't - provide him with any services at all. As he puts it, "I was happy to pay a registration fee, but I thought it was quite wrong to have to pay the same toll in a privately-maintained marina as a houseboat moored in the navigation area, which the BA pays to maintain."

When asked whether this was right or fair, the Authority said that it didn't matter whether or not it was fair - the Act gave them the right to charge it, so they did. In Dr John Pikeman's own words "From the Authority’s point of view it would be more consistent and beneficial if all unpowered craft paid a toll."

"It would make it easier to administer and bring in a little more money, lovely jubbly",  he continued, rubbing his hands together.

Meanwhile, Mr Fish has been quietly assembling new evidence and, last week, presented his appeal at Ipswich Crown Court. After the Blessed Authority's barrister was unable to explain to the Court exactly what the charge was for, the Judge upheld the appeal - ruling that the toll was an "unjustified tax" and an "illegal charge".

The BA must now presumably refund not only Mr Fish but also the many other houseboat owners who have been reluctantly handing over their hard-earned cash in exchange for nothing whatsoever for the past 3 years - unless it finds a way to appeal the decision.

Before it thinks about an appeal, the BA must surely take a careful look at how its Officers have been allowed to pursue such a manifestly unjust policy for so long without referring it back to the Members, and ask how much public money has been spent on this (and similar) prosecutions. Accustomed only to telling Members what they should authorise, the Authority's Officers are now faced with the very real possibility of having to ask the Members for guidance, a situation for which there is no known precedent.

Monday 6 April 2015

Extra work for Rangers, as domestic waste re-branded 'commercial'

The controversial Government decision to re-brand domestic refuse from boats as commercial waste has caused fly tipping and customer confusion throughout the Broads, as Local Authorities have decided to terminate free waste collection services at key riverside locations around Yarmouth and Broadland.

The Broads Authority have faced up to the problem by introducing river-based waste collection services across the Broads, with the Charles Collier running the first trial this weekend on the River Bure near to St Benets Abbey - spotted here by famous Broads photographer Lord Paul of Sealand.  

"This is very much a trial" said a Broads Authority spokesperson, "as the Ranger boats can only carry one domestic sized wheelie bin at a time, or 2 if the Rangers leave their packed lunches on the bank."

"We are currently undergoing a competitive tender process for larger scale compactor wherries. Local boatyards will be invited to tender, as long as they read the London Gazette, before we award the contract to an Irish company as usual."

The Authority will need to differentiate between domestic waste from owners of private boats, which is domestic, and domestic waste from hire boat customers, which is commercial. Hire boat yards are being asked to provide their customers with special red 'Broads National Park' bin bags so that the Rangers can identify and collect the 'commercial' waste but leave the rest for the Local Authorities to collect in the normal way.

Dr John Pikeman called the re-branding decision "completely illogical", given that the refuse from hire boats was clearly not commercial waste. "Why would anyone want to change a perfectly good name into something inaccurate?" he said "It's ridiculous and will cause confusion for visitors." 

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Broads Authority responds to censorship row by censoring Members

The Broads Authority's politburo has responded to the EDP's story on alleged 'gagging' of Members by instructing Members not to make any comment.

The memo from the Authority's "communications department" reassures Members that there is no intention to gag them, but that all comments relating to the Broads or the Broads Authority must be channelled through the Ministry of Propaganda.

The communiqué follows this week's high profile EDP interview with outgoing Navigation Committee Chairman and Broads Authority member Dave Pond, who highlighted the "draconian" rules at the Broads Authority which he had been forced to follow during his 7 year tenure and branded the Authority "an unaccountable quango".

Mr Pond was disciplined in 2013 for trying to respond to questions about tolls increases on the popular Broads Blog Pravda. He was also unable to comment publicly on tourism, despite being the Authority's Lead Member for Tourism.

Outgoing Authority Chairman John Stephenson denied the allegations and claimed that the policy was standard practice in non-political organisations. "We have no democratic mandate from the public, so we are not required to be accountable" he said. "The Broads Authority is independent of Government and power is vested in its Chief Executive. This is normal. The role of Members is to support the will of the Executive and to ensure that contrary views are suppressed before they escape into the public domain and gain traction."

Mr Stephenson confirmed that the communications policy had widespread support and was only opposed by a minority of Members brave enough to speak out, in addition to the Norfolk & Suffolk Boating Association, the Royal Yachting Association, the British Marine Federation, the Broads Hire Boat Federation and every MP representing the Broads area.

In a separate development, Police are investigating after a body was pulled from the River Wensum near the Novi Sad bridge, close to Yare House. Witnesses were said to have heard the words "will nobody rid me of this troublesome fish" before 4 shots were fired and a figure fell from the bridge. Dr John Pikeman is said to have taken personal charge of the investigation and an engraved bullet has been removed from the scene.

Broads National Pike journalists have confirmed that the Authority's officers are immune from external censure, with both the Local Government Ombudsman and DEFRA confirming that they will not investigate complaints from Members about the Authority or its Executive. "[Members] should pursue their concerns with the Authority" said Lord de Mauley, without a hint of irony.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Broads Hireboat Operator to Re-brand as Broads Authority

Robertsons, one of the Broads' longest established holiday companies, has announced its intention to rebrand itself as The Broads Authority.

The move follows a number of high profile collaborations between the 2 organisations including a joint presence at the London Boat Show in January and the Excel Travel Show last month. This week, the Authority launched the Robertsons Broads Eating Out Guide, which Officers are confident will be widely promoted by Robertsons' industry competitors.

A spokesman for the famous hire boat operator said "Having signed an exclusive long-term sponsorship deal with the Broads Authority, it seemed entirely natural that we should take over the name - especially since they aren't using it any more, having rebranded themselves as a National Park earlier this year."

Other Broads businesses have subsequently wondered why they weren't asked to bid for the name, but the Authority's spokesman, Dr John Pikeman, confirmed that an exhaustive protocol for ensuring best value for the public had been followed in agreeing the deal. "Robertsons asked us before anyone else did, and we said yes" he explained.

Robertsons' plans for the Authority include a TV channel, last minute discounts for late payment of tolls and wrapping the Yare House offices in a giant pirate ship mural.

Saturday 31 January 2015

The Great Hoveton Broad Swindle

Sometimes I like to explore the parts of the Broads where only a fish can go, and the other day I decided to visit Hoveton Great Broad - one of the biggest Broads there is.

My Great Grandfather used to tell me what a fantastic Broad this was, before the owners closed it off to boats so that it could be their own private playground about 120 years ago. How sel-fish of them!

Well, I couldn't believe my eyes when I got there. In fact, I couldn't believe my gills, the water quality was diabolical - completely stagnant and I couldn't breathe! And they call it a nature reserve? Not much nature in there I can tell you, yuk. That's what happens when you close off Broads and don't manage them - they gradually silt up until there's nothing but mud. Which is nice if you're a hippopotamus I suppose but pretty useless for fish - and indeed boats.

So, when I read about the Hoveton Great Broad restoration project, I thought to myself "goodness me Eddie, the owners have seen the error of their ways and decided to dredge the Broad and re-open it so that everyone can experience the serene beauty of this fabulous expanse of water". Sure enough, they've got together with Natural England and asked for £5 million of lottery money to dredge the Broad. Hurray!

But wait, what about public access and navigation to this Broad, restored with public money? No doubt those gates will be removed so that it can be enjoyed by everyone? Well apparently not. In fact, the entrances are going to be blocked up with tonnes of concrete and rocks to form "temporary fish barriers".

Temporary. Fish barriers. Using concrete and rocks.

Now, does that sound like just a teensy bit of overkill to stop a few fish getting in? Did they consider using a net? The fishing industry have found them to be quite effective for some years now I believe. And certainly much easier to remove than hundreds of tonnes of rock. Do we even have the technology to do that?

So, intrigued, I had a chat with a friend of the owners to see if I could understand this aversion to allowing other people to enjoy the Broad, and it turns out that it basically boils down to the fact that they don't like boats, not one little bit. "Because they destroy the Broads, you see? Look at the rivers, and the Broads which have boats on them, and you'll see that they're ruined!" Really? "The water quality's dreadful and the plant life is declining!" I mentioned that this sounded a bit more like Hoveton Great Broad to me but he just gave me a look. Don't the owners have their own boats on the Broad? "Well yes, of course, but that's entirely different, they know how to look after the Broad and won't ruin it…" Mmm-hmm.

You'd like to think that the Broads Authority - responsible for 'promoting the right to navigate' - would use this as an opportunity to remind the owners that this is a tidal Broad - swapping the Authority's support for a commitment to re-open the navigation. But no, apparently this would cost too many legal fees. The owner is a High Court judge, you see. Click to read last September's report which expresses "disappointment" that there is no intention to restore the navigation but recommends that the scheme is supported anyway!

But it's ok, because there's going to be a canoe trail through the marshes. A private, guided one. Which stops short of the Broad. Well - how much public access can you possibly expect for just five million pounds?

PS there's a 'survey' being carried out as part of this project - but you only have until 6th Feb to complete it. The questions are fairly useless as they assume support for the project but there's a (small) comment box at the end. Click here to complete the survey.

Friday 23 January 2015

Broads Authority drops plan to become a National Park

Boat owners and residents are reacting to today’s news that the Broads Authority has formally dropped its long-term ambition to become a National Park.

Members also voted overwhelmingly to reject the introduction of the Sandford Principle – now or in the future.

The news was greeted with dismay by some hard-core conservationists, who fear that the move will result in an explosion of hire boat numbers, the destruction of important habitats and the dualling of the A47.

Having agreed that the area would not become a National Park, the Authority was asked to decide whether it should be referred to as one anyway, because National Parks are often seen as A Good Thing amongst visitors. Members were assured that, although this ‘rebranding’ was intended to encourage tourism, it would be unlikely to result in an actual increase in visitor numbers and would merely improve the quality of the existing visitors – thereby resolving the apparently conflicting demands of the holiday industry and conservationists in one simple stroke of genius.

Some navigators remained unconvinced by the announcement, pointing out that you can’t believe anything that the Broads Authority says, ever. I couldn’t possibly comment on this.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Eddie Rebrands as Broads National Pike

In a surprise move, it has emerged that A Fish Called Eddie - the southern Broads’ statue of a leaping pike – is to be re-branded as a Broads National Pike.

The move follows an “ofishal” consultation process, in addition to a survey of over 1,600 boat owners, residents and visitors. Brand consultants found that, once the opinions of the residents and boat owners were removed from the figures, 80% of the remainder were in favour of the re-branding.

Although Eddie is a member of the Pike family, he is not technically a National Pike. But that doesn’t matter much these days, as Eddie explained – “National Pikes are a globally-recognised brand. By calling myself one, I stand to gain thousands more followers on Twitter – so who cares whether or not it’s true?” Eddie’s brand manager, Dr John Pikeman agreed – “Eddie isn’t actually saying that he is a National Pike – he’s just calling himself one. See?”

Critics have pointed out that if Eddie actually becomes a National Pike, then his right to swim throughout the Broads may be curtailed in the event of an outbreak of rare weeds or protected newts. But Eddie has confirmed that, if he is allowed to call himself a National Pike then he will give up his long-held aspiration of becoming one.

Eddie is no stranger to re-branding, having started life as a 28lb stuffed pike hanging on the wall of the Waveney Inn in 1948, before becoming a galvanised steel statue of a leaping pike as part of a millennium sculpture trail in 2001 and regenerating again as a kind of online virtual fish in 2010.