Idea for direct elections to Broads Authority

STEPHEN PULLINGER Introducing direct elections to the Broads Authority has been suggested by a Parliamentary select committee examining the Broads bill.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Introducing direct elections to the Broads Authority has been suggested by a Parliamentary select committee examining the Broads bill.

While endorsing most of the bill, which seeks to implement a number of boat safety provisions, the committee has suggested the government could look at the possibility of direct elections on similar lines to those of the Scottish national parks.

Currently, the authority's member-ship is drawn from nominees of local councils in its area and direct appointments by the environment, food and rural affairs secretary.

Roger Williams, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, told the committee that direct elections would make the authority "more directly accountable to the people who live and work in the area". But Defra minister Jonathan Shaw said it was his preference, and one that the House had expressed on previous occasions, not to allow direct elections.

Broads Authority chairman Kerry Turner said: "The suggestion of direct elections is an interesting one but there is not a close parallel with the Scottish national parks because of special characteristics of the Broads Authority and the very limited executive area it administers."

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Phil Ollier, secretary of the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association, said they would support a review of how the authority membership was drawn.

While questioning whether direct elections would be successful, given the low turnout at local council ballots, he nevertheless felt there was a case for making membership more closely reflect the different interests across the Broads. One idea would be to introduce parish council nominees alongside those of the district and county councils.

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