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.

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