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Boat Stranded on Norfolk Broads Due to Unopened Haven Bridge

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Boat Stranded on Norfolk Broads Due to Unopened Haven Bridge

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The owners of a 100ft boat find themselves marooned on the Norfolk Broads, unable to leave because the operators of Haven Bridge refuse to open it.

Stranded Boat Owners: Six Weeks Stuck on the Broads

Terry and Teena Everitt, the owners of the barge Wehlau, have been stuck on the Norfolk Broads for six weeks. They are unable to proceed with their journey because Peel Ports, the company responsible for Great Yarmouth’s Haven Bridge, refuses to lift the crossing. The bridge, essential for boats to leave the Broads and head to sea, is fully operational after past maintenance issues. However, Peel Ports cites vague "health and safety" concerns without providing a timeline for reopening.

Ongoing Dispute Between Peel Ports and Norfolk County Council

The refusal to open the bridge is the latest flashpoint in a prolonged conflict between Peel Ports and Norfolk County Council, which owns the bridge. This dispute has intensified frustrations among boaters and marine businesses. Peel Ports has kept the 1930s bridge closed for the last two months, with negotiations at a standstill. One marine firm reports losing millions in business due to the closure.

Desperate Measures Considered by Frustrated Boat Owner

The ongoing situation has pushed Mr. Everitt to consider taking extreme measures. He has threatened to navigate under the closed bridge, a risky manoeuvre given the size of their 120-tonne vessel. "If we hit it with 120 tonnes of boat, then they really will have a health and safety issue," he warned.

Historic Barge Stuck in Norfolk

Mr. and Mrs. Everitt have lived on their boat, Wehlau, for 13 years. They plan to sail it to a new berth in Essex from its current mooring on the River Bure. Before the move, the nearly century-old vessel must undergo a historic ship survey at Alicat Workboats, located on the other side of Haven Bridge in Yarmouth, to ensure seaworthiness. Haven Bridge is the only viable route, as the boat is too large to fit through the Oulton Broad lock near Lowestoft.

Impact on Business and Personal Plans

The Everitts' planned move, two years in the making, remains thwarted by the bridge blockade. Mr. Everitt, who is retiring after years of running Everitt Marine Services, a Broads boatyard, expresses his frustration: "They have no right to hold us against our will. The bridge is fully operational. It feels like health and safety issues are being used as an excuse." If the situation remains unresolved in two weeks, he plans to attempt navigating under the bridge.

Growing Anger and Impacts on the Boating Community

The ongoing standoff between Peel Ports and Norfolk County Council has sparked a rising tide of anger among boaters and marine companies. The closure of Haven Bridge not only hampers individual journeys but also affects the local economy, with businesses losing significant revenue. The Everitts' plight highlights the broader implications of the bridge closure, emphasising the urgent need for resolution.

The Need for Resolution

The stalemate over Haven Bridge continues to impact the Everitts and many others in the boating community. As negotiations drag on, the call for a timely and practical solution grows louder. Ensuring the operational status of essential infrastructure like Haven Bridge is crucial for maintaining the flow of marine traffic and supporting the local economy. Without a resolution, the frustration and financial losses will only mount, making the situation untenable for all parties involved.
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