Sunday 15 May 2016

Maintaining rivers not our job, says body charged with maintaining rivers

Members of the Blessed Authority were this week prevented from debating a report from their own officers on the deteriorating bank of the river Chet beside Hardley flood, because issues raised by the navigation committee were too frightening for them to contemplate. The work needed could be both ‘high risk’ and ‘high cost’, Dr Pikeman told members, so it was better for them not to know about it yet. 

A specific request from one of the more enlightened Blessed Members for the paper to be included on Friday's Agenda was turned down, as Officers were not yet ready to tell Members what to think. The news follows an announcement by Norfolk County Council that they intend to close a popular section of the Wherryman’s Way riverside footpath, and divert it on to a main road - on safety grounds. 

Three weeks ago, the navigation committee strongly advised that the rapid deterioration of the stretch of river bank could not be ignored, and that the Authority needed to take an urgent and proactive stance.

Blessed Officers claimed that the issue did not touch any of the Authority’s three statutory duties - which are public access, conservation and navigation - until a Member pointed out that it involved a public footpath running between a nature reserve and a navigable river. Officers argued that any structures replaced by the BA now would have to be maintained in the future, so it would be much cheaper to let them collapse further and then find out what happens later, when it might be somebody else’s job. In the mean time, money could be spent on consultants, so as not to make it look as though the issue is being ignored entirely.

Unfortunately, the navigation committee advice could not be reported to Blessed Members yesterday as the minutes were not yet available. “It’s important for there to be an appropriate delay in producing minutes” said a Blessed Spokesperson, “in order that Members have an adequate chance to forget what was actually said. This is the natural way of things here at Yeurgh House."

Finger-in-the-air estimates to carry out the work needed range from £500,000 to £3 million, which Dr Pikeman says is beyond the means of the tiny Authority; such figures are understood to eclipse even its huge planning enforcement and legal budgets.

A Blesssed Spokesperson confirmed that projects which would benefit the public and the navigation do not qualify for grant funding, in contrast to restoring private broads with no public access, and teaching the public about the cultural significance of landscapes and windmills.


  1. and their collection of grass consuming ponies don't forget;-)

  2. No surprise, all predicted years ago.

    The senior echelon of BA officialdom is unfit for its purposes.

    Time for a judicial review.