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Has The Norfolk Broads Magic Finally Gone?

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Has The Norfolk Broads Magic Finally Gone?

Post by Miles »

2020 has certainly been a year so far that nobody is likely to forget for a very long time.
However, where does the Norfolk Broads fit into this year of madness?
I have been fortunate to spend literally months talking to all types of boaters on the Norfolk Broads.
I think initially most people I have been speaking to were totally horrified by the fatalities that happened this year and many have been left concerned that certain matters have just got too out of control now.
It started with the CEO of the Broads Authority immediately exempting the hire boats from tolls. Although private boaters were expected to pay full tolls yet were unable to even visit their vessels for months. This upset more people than I have ever seen before on the Norfolk Broads. Quite rightly so too. The Broads Authority in my opinion has no interest in private boaters and is solely interested in the industry and the financial benefits it drives to the Broads Authority itself. It was obvious that the byelaws are ambiguous to this organisation and are bent and twisted to suit the needs as and when it requires. How else could anyone justify exempting one vessel over another when this organisation has a history of pursuing boat owners for tolls whilst floating in adjacent waters?
The Broads Authority in my opinion is at times harassing. I received a threatening letter from the Broads Authority halfway through the year informing me that I had a week to pay my outstanding tolls for a boat that had been in dry storage for the boating season. On investigation, it turned out a local ranger had decided to issue a contravention notice for tolls on a boat that was waiting to be lifted out during lockdown. This was written four days into the boating season and the ranger decided that it was not relevant to put a copy on to my vessel for my perusal, can't think why?
On complaining to the Broads Authority, I received no formal apology but was just told by email that no further action would be taken. My impressions of the Broads Authority are extremely low.
This is not the first time I was hassled or even harassed by the Broads Authority.
I had an idiot ranger once write another contravention notice for breaking down on the River Yare. Once I had fixed my vessel and left the area, the ranger made a point of standing by his boathouse waving goodbye at me as I left. I must admit, it left me feeling curious as to the psychometric testing of this individual with regards to his suitability for the role.
Almost every year I would have a ranger come up to me at the beginning of the season and insist on telling me that the Broads Authority was clamping down on overstayers. Very interesting but what that had to do with me was beyond me. Throughout the season you would then get a flotilla of scruffy and untolled boats mooring up at Sutton Staithe. They would not moor for days or even weeks but months.
So personally, I find the Broads Authority very harassing.
How the Broads Act got passed in parliament to allow this quango organisation to charge people tolls on tidal waters is a matter that defies logic and I would hope one day to see this raised in the court of human rights. Either you have a right to navigate tidal waters or you don't?
A long time ago, the very first stretch of the North Walsham & Dilham Canal was subjected to people trying to charge tolls. It is because this first stretch is tidal waters that the matter was squashed...what has changed? This right to navigate tidal waters is believed to date back prior to the Magna Carta.
Obviously, I have grievances and I put these down to my own experience which is extensive.
Many people are still buying boats now because of staycation enforcements basically. Hire boats booked solid for 2021. The liveaboard population is likely to grow exponentially with so many hardships being thrust upon the general public. Has the Broads Authority got any plans to deal with this wave of increased traffic? I doubt it.
Local boaters I have become good friends with over the years have stated that so many boats were out in the hands of people who could not control them this year, that they have decided to call it a day now.
I have even been told that those who are doing the so-called tuition are not even experienced boaters themselves in many cases and are just people hired from the street.
So for me personally, the magic has gone. I never thought I would ever feel that way as I have loved the Norfolk Broads in great quantities. However, there is so much wrong with these waterways and it is getting rapidly worse and not better. I have seen no improvements on the Norfolk Broads since 2014 and now some 6 years later, it is the worst it has ever been.
So, I won't be back next season in 2021.
I was going to put a boat in for the winter as it is a great time to be continuous cruising, however, the Broads Authority insisted that I would be charged a full year's tolls for a boat that was going to go back in the water in October. I offered to pay 50% but was told they could not accept that as the Broads Act would need to be rewritten. Although many people have had tolls exempted by declaring the boat broken down or get charged a third of the tolls if the boat is not used after 21st September, even to stay on.
Despite the Norfolk Broads being such a beautiful place, I cant maintain an affinity for the place as long as the Broads Authority exists and it is too dangerous to leave a vessel unattended due to the sheer excessive levels of boat damage that goes unchallenged.
Unfortunately, my views are shared by many I personally know and I just hope no more accidents happen before these wonderful waterways are restored to their natural grace and not the dangerous dodgem park it is now sadly become.

Short Term Discomfort, Long Term Gain...
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Re: Has The Norfolk Broads Magic Finally Gone?

Post by Aboattime »

Miles i agree with a lot you say . I have been coming to the broads for 60 years now and seen many changes,some good, many not so.We sold the boat at the beginning of the season due to many factors, but in some respects i do miss it, but then i dont miss the worry of the upkeep,or when on board if im going to get hit by some moron in a hire boat who hasnt got a clue or care what there doing.! The BA need to take a long hard look at themselves, i have many instances when they were very poor,tolls,controlling speeding craft etc etc.One August bank holiday it was the usual carnage between Horning and Wroxham,speeding day boats people all over the place with no regard to the rules of the river, then i came across the rangers launch,Moored at Caen Meadow and the crew on board were asleep!!So we are now hiring,no hassle,no worry,no tolls,no mooring fees etc etc.
Still 3 generations of the family coming to enjoy the broads,but with out all the hassle and agro of being a privateer,and as for the BA,dont care now. :D

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