Tolls will not go to pay for new post after all, Broads Authority decides

PUBLISHED: 07:12 13 July 2013

Dr Stephen Johnson, chairman of the Broads Authority. Photo: Bill Smith

Dr Stephen Johnson, chairman of the Broads Authority. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2010

The Broads Authority has decided not to use toll income to part fund a new marketing and promotion post, after a powerful alliance of boaters campaigned against it.

The British Marine Federation, the Broads Hire Boat Federation, the Royal Yachting Association and the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association united in opposition to the proposal which they claimed would contravene the legislation which established the authority.

At yesterday’s BA meeting, members were asked whether the new role – costing £45,000 – should be fully funded from the national park grant, or whether 30pc of the cost (£13,500) should come from toll money.

Members agreed not to use the toll income after John Packman, the authority’s chief executive, said that, given the small amount of money involved, it was not worth the argument.

He said: “Given that the amount involved is relatively small, at just £13,500, that the four boating organisations seem to set their hearts against it and that the chairman and I, as the deputy chair of National Parks England and the lead chief executive for the English National Parks, have more important matters over the coming months to deal with, my proposal is that the authority funds the activity entirely out of national park grant.”

BA chairman Stephen Johnson added: “Whatever the legal arguments, I think we should honour the undertaking we went into in 2006/7 with the BMF and RYA.”

Members, however, decided to use the debate as the prompt for a significant piece of research to find out more about the views of boat owners, residents and visitors, which would be funded through 50pc toll money and 50pc national park expenditure.

Opponents to using the toll money to fund the new post had argued that it was legally ring-fenced for navigation expenditure.

But an officer’s report to members said the BA’s legal advice was that it was an acceptable use of toll cash.

A spokesman for the alliance said that the Act was clear on what constituted navigation expenditure, and employing someone in a marketing and promotion role did not fit that definition.

A spokesman said: “In a paper presented to the navigation committee in December 2010 the authority’s chief executive stated that tourism development was something that should be funded entirely from sources other than the tolls.”

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