Broads boaters lose battle over rising costs

The Broads Authority was yesterday accused of 'failing to carry stakeholders with it' after it ruled out a plan to halve this year's controversial increase in the amount of toll money spent on administration rather than navigation work.

At its previous meeting, a proposal to limit the rise to �100,000 for one year at least, by using an extra �100,000 of national park grant cash on overheads, was put on hold until the authority learned whether it had secured �800,000 of money for dredging from the EU.

Following news the authority had clinched the cash to trial new dredging methods, members yesterday approved a three-year financial plan ruling out the cushioning payment; its resource allocation group recommended that in light of the extra navigation work ensured by the EU bid it was no longer necessary to consider �100,000 of transitional money.

Authority vice-chairman Alan Mallett said the drastic cut in government grant money had a 'traumatic effect' on the working of the authority and there had been no alternative to introducing a fairer system of apportioning administrative costs.

He said: 'While there was sympathy for navigators, there was also a very valid feeling that national park activities and tourism were taking a big hit.' He highlighted the fact navigation work would be maintained at the same level in the coming three years despite a projection that toll rises could be reduced to 4pc.

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Member David Broad said: 'We looked at some sort of compensation arrangement, but in light of the effect of the budget cuts on conservation, tourism and services such as footpath maintenance, we could not justify transitional payments.'

Martin Broom, chairman of the authority's navigation committee, said the �100,000 cushioning payment had been included in the budget put to his committee; going back on that 'left a nasty taste' and the authority was failing to carry stakeholders with it.

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