The Broads Authority (BA) has been accused of "pettiness" after it pulled out of a decade-long agreement to distribute leaflets for a boating organisation following a row between the two.

The BA has refused to help the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association's (NSBA) in its annual membership advertising drive, ending an arrangement which has been in place for at least 10 years.

It has refused to say why but NSBA members suspect the decision - which has left them out of pocket - is because the association has been critical of some aspects of how the BA is run.



For several years, the NSBA has provided membership forms to the BA which are then sent out to boaters in the post alongside their toll invoices.

In January, the association delivered 10,000 of the leaflets to the BA's offices in Norwich, in time to be dispatched.Eastern Daily Press: The Broads Authority offices at Yare House in NorwichThe Broads Authority offices at Yare House in Norwich (Image: George Thompson, LDR)

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The leaflets are designed to encourage people to become a member of the NSBA and to receive a copy of The Green Book - an annual publication that is considered the premier handbook for Broads boaters.

But the NSBA was told last week to come and pick the leaflets up again with no explanation or prior warning offered.

It has meant the organisation, which spent hundreds of pounds on the forms, has been left out of pocket and could result in a loss of potential membership applications this year.

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Eastern Daily Press: Children taking part in a youth sailing regatta at Oulton Broad sailing Toppers and RS FevasChildren taking part in a youth sailing regatta at Oulton Broad sailing Toppers and RS Fevas (Image: Newsquest)


Ben Falat, chairman of the NSBA, believes the decision likely follows his criticism of the BA due to dissatisfaction with how the authority engages with local boating communities and complaints that there has been a lack of clarity over how it spends its money.

Eastern Daily Press: Ben Fallat, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association Ben Fallat, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association (Image: Newsquest)

He said: "Surely BA should employ every possible avenue to engage with as many users of the Broads and inhabitants locally.

"Terminating this shared membership drive reflects the old adage of 'cutting one's nose to spite one's face'.

"We have always served as a critical friend, challenging them on some issues and supporting others.

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Eastern Daily Press: Ben Falat sailing his Phantom in the BroadsBen Falat sailing his Phantom in the Broads (Image: Newsquest)

"We always gave our Green Books to staff for free, which helped inform them of regatta events and members' issues - it meant they knew when to move dredgers out of the way if a race was taking place. It seems petty."

The Broads Authority continues to refuse to offer an explanation as to why it made the decision.

Eastern Daily Press: Boats racing at Wroxham Sailing WeekBoats racing at Wroxham Sailing Week (Image: Newsquest)


While not always seeing eye to eye, the two organisations share many common aims - primarily the desire to promote the Broads as a premier destination for sailing and boating.

However, the NSBA is fundraising to raise enough money to hire a King's Counsel - a senior solicitor - to conduct a high-level review of how the Broads Authority operates.

Mr Falat added: "We just want a bit more scrutiny and clarity and we hope an independent legal opinion will help with this. 

"If they say it is all tickety-boo then we will respect that."

Eastern Daily Press: Sailing on the River Waveney close to Oulton BroadSailing on the River Waveney close to Oulton Broad (Image: Newsquest)


This move reflects growing tensions between the Broads Authority and boaters who use the waterways, which is centred on how it spends its finances.

The two factions have been characterised as 'parkies' - those said to be focused primarily on its national park duties - and the 'navvies', who are more concerned with representing the interests of boaters and navigation.

Annual toll fees which have risen year on year are supposed to be ringfenced for navigational costs but there has been speculation that the BA is funding its national park duties through this income. The BA denies this and has dismissed the idea as a "conspiracy theory".

Mr Falat hopes his organisation will continue to engage with the BA but warns this has to be done "with respect" and without his group becoming "corporate yes-men".