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Critic kicked off Broads Authority in row over Thorpe Island blog

PUBLISHED: 08:00 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:45 03 October 2018

James Knight at Waveney River Centre. Photo: Archant

James Knight at Waveney River Centre. Photo: Archant

Archant

A businessman has been kicked off the Broads Authority after an investigation into comments on his blog.

James Knight from Waveney River Centre has also been in a planning dispute with the Broads Authority over Yurts at his campsite. 
Picture: Nick ButcherJames Knight from Waveney River Centre has also been in a planning dispute with the Broads Authority over Yurts at his campsite. Picture: Nick Butcher

James Knight, a member of the authority’s navigation committee, has been in a dispute with the body overseeing the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads over its handling of a planning row on Thorpe Island on the River Yare.

The island at Thorpe St Andrew was at the centre of a long-running legal wrangle between landowner Roger Wood and the Authority over its historic mooring rights.

The dispute eventually ended in 2017 when Mr Wood sold the island.

In spring 2017, Mr Knight, who runs Waveney River Centre, wrote a series of articles on his blog in which he said members of the Broads Authority had been “misled” by planning officers. That led to code of conduct complaints against him.

Jenners Basin on Thorpe Island. Picture by SIMON FINLAYJenners Basin on Thorpe Island. Picture by SIMON FINLAY

An Authority spokesman said Mr Knight repeatedly accused their officers of “deliberately and wilfully” misleading members.

They added they had “no alternative” but to remove Mr Knight after he refused to apologise.

The Authority brought in a barrister to investigate whether Mr Knight breached the code of conduct.

The barrister found in April this year the 51-year old had breached the code for “leadership”, as well as for “equality and respect” but concluded the complaint could be resolved without a disciplinary hearing.

Roger Wood, former owner of Jenners Basin on Thorpe Island had a long-running planning row with the Broads Authority. Mr Knight support Mr Wood and wrote a blog alleging planning officers had misled members. Picture by SIMON FINLAYRoger Wood, former owner of Jenners Basin on Thorpe Island had a long-running planning row with the Broads Authority. Mr Knight support Mr Wood and wrote a blog alleging planning officers had misled members. Picture by SIMON FINLAY

However, a hearing was held in September which ruled Mr Knight would be kicked off the Authority if he did not apologise and take down his posts.

He refused and on Monday he received a letter from Haydn Thirtle, the Authority chairman, stating he had been removed.

See also: What is going on at the Broads Authority?

Chairman of the Broads Authority Haydn Thirtle told James Knight on Friday he had been removed from his position of the navigation committee. 

Picture: James BassChairman of the Broads Authority Haydn Thirtle told James Knight on Friday he had been removed from his position of the navigation committee. Picture: James Bass

Mr Knight said: “For the last 16 months, the Broads Authority wasted public money on deciding whether I had breached their code of conduct by making these allegations, but refused to investigate whether what I’d said was true.

“It is the prima facie duty of members of the Broads Authority to challenge and scrutinise the advice and recommendations of the officers.

“This is all the more important in an unelected quango.”

An Authority spokesman said: “A full investigation by an independent barrister found no evidence to support Mr Knight’s serious public accusations.”

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