Council decision leaves boat owners on Thorpe Island at risk of £100 fine every time they visit mainland
- Credit: Archant
Islanders say their way of life is being threatened under new mooring rules for a stretch of the River Yare.
Around 26 people live aboard boats on the eastern side of Thorpe Island, opposite Yarmouth Road in Thorpe St Andrew.
The close-knit community ranges from hospital midwives and bar staff to delivery drivers and retired couples.
But they fear a new management scheme will see them incur £100 fines every time they visit the mainland.
It comes as Thorpe St Andrew Town Council agreed to introduce 24-hour mooring regulations along the quay heading at River Green.
Under the new rules, boat owners who stay beyond 24 hours or return within 48 hours risk being issued with a charge.
But Nick McLaughlin, who has lived on the island for three years, said none of the residents had been consulted on the plans.
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'We need access [to mainland] for work and to go about our day-to-day lives,' the 35-year-old said.
'There are certain professionals on the island who are needed in an instant, but the regulations mean we won't be able to fulfil our jobs.'
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He said most people on the island - who are aged between 20 and 75 - visited the mainland at least four times a day.
'It's a right of access that has been here for 50 years,' Mr McLaughlin said.
'And it is ridiculous to try and take it away without any consultation.'
He said that boat owners had attempted to work with the town council on the issue, but were met with a 'closed door'.
Meanwhile, Thomas Foreman, town clerk, said it was up to the landowner, Roger Wood, to come up with a solution for residents.
He said the council had made multiple attempts to contact Mr Wood about the issue.
But he claimed he had been unable to reach the 74-year-old, who until recently also owned Jenner's Basin on the island's western side.
Mr Foreman said: 'Had
Roger engaged with us at an earlier stage, then we could have explored any ideas he had.
'The option for them is to speak to Roger and get his views on what the solution is.'
The council had previously considered the islanders when discussing plans for River Green.
It considered installing a floating pontoon which islanders could tie their dingies to for a small fee when visiting the mainland.
But Mr Foreman said the idea had been scrapped following discussions with the Broads Authority.
He added: 'The issue with the pontoon is that we have spoken to the Broads Authority, and, in short, with the number of moorings at River Green, the pontoon would lead to the narrowing of the navigational stretch.'
The council has had to introduce the management scheme in order to raise £10,000 each year to keep the quay 'adequately maintained'.
Until this year, it had been under the ownership of the Broads Authority.
Coral Pearce-Mariner, 29, who lives on the island, said the boat owners would be willing to pay in order to use the river bank.
'We propose that the dinghy tax is brought back into discussion,' she said. 'We are happy to pay a charge of £1 per week, per dinghy, as previously put forward by the council in order to contribute to the upkeep of the [River] Green.
'The residents of the island are disappointed that the town council did not attempt to contact them once it became clear that the landowner could not be reached.
'While we understand the legal importance of speaking to the landowner specifically, those who are here 24/7 and who actually use River Green should have been consulted as an act of common sense and courtesy.'
Hannah Barrett, 34, assistant manager of the Buck Inn, has been a resident of Thorpe Island for five years.
She said: 'My work means that I often work unsociable hours and frequently do not return home until late at night. In the dark and in inclement weather, access to ladders on the green is essential to me.'
It is not just those living on the eastern side of Thorpe Island who face a difficult future.
People living in Jenner's Basin, on the island's western edge, were told they have until the end of April to move out.The eviction notice was sent out shortly after the basin area was sold to new owners for £200,000.
Previous owner Roger Wood had spent a decade fighting the Broads Authority in court over historic mooring rights for the area.
But he was forced to sell after he was left owing £13,200 to the authority in court fees. Mr Wood purchased the island in 2007 for £460,000, and claimed it was recently valued at £2m.
He initially aimed to make money from berthing fees in the basin, and argued he had historic consent to rent out moorings, as the site's previous owner had permission for a marina.
But two planning inspectors and a high court judge, have all deemed the development unlawful.
Attractive boats only
Only the most well-kept boats will be allowed to permanently moor along River Green in the future.
Thorpe St Andrew Town Council previously said it was to ensure the scenic views from the area would not spoiled.
Owners would need to submit a photo of their vessel prior to any mooring agreement being made, and it will be up to the council to decide if they meet the requirements.
Last month the council approved the creation of commercial and private moorings for River Green to go alongside the short stay moorings.
The area will be monitored by council officers, who will have the power to issue charge notices.
The council said people will be fined £100 if they breach the mooring rules. But it will be reduced to £70 if paid within 14 days.
Other ideas put forward for River Green include the introduction of an electric hire boat scheme.