Broads Authority cuts approved

A package of Broads Authority cuts which will see more than 30 jobs go was today formally approved at a meeting of the full authority.

To lessen the impact of a predicted 30pc cut in the authority's national park grant (NPG) over four years - reducing its NPG income from �4.4m to �2.96m - 15 permanent jobs and 10 fixed term contract posts will be cut by the end of the financial year and a further six full-time jobs will be lost the year after.

Chief executive John Packman explained that in implementing the cuts the focus was on creating larger teams with fewer managers and protecting the frontline delivery of service.

By 2013, the authority's existing four directorates would be slimmed to two, bringing together countryside management and navigation, with countryside and navigation rangers becoming one flexible team.

He stressed that the intention was to keep dredging, waterways maintenance and patrols to the same level of service and said important programmes of lake restoration and fens management would not be significantly affected.

Other key planks of the cost-saving strategy, which Dr Packman described as 'one of the most important reports seen by the authority', are the closure of visitor centres in Beccles, Potter Heigham and Ranworth and the closure of the authority's field base in Ludham.

Over time, the authority would be reducing its input into promoting sustainable tourism and it was hoped that the Broads Tourism Forum, its private sector partner, would take the lead.

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Authority chairman Stephen Johnson highlighted the scale of the cuts they were facing, with the level of NPG in 2014 back to what it was in 2004.

Allan Mallett, who had worked on the cuts programme as chairman of the resources allocation management group, spoke out to reassure members of the boating lobby who had raised fears the new structure - bringing together navigation and countryside management - might mean less focus on the waterways.

He said a more efficient delivery of services would benefit both national park and navigation operations.

And he emphasised the point that income from boat tolls would still only be spent on navigation and this would be seen by transparent accounting procedures.

David Broad emphasised the need for 'clarity and transparency' so that people could see money was being allocated fairly.