Broads Authority bosses considering legal action after police probe
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Broads Authority bosses are considering legal action after a 14-month Norfolk police investigation into how the authority handled planning applications ended with an apology from the force.
The way the authority dealt with applications over moorings in the south Norfolk village of Haddiscoe led to an investigation of an allegation of misconduct in a public office after South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller reported it to Norfolk police.
While the investigating detective sergeant concluded nothing criminal occurred, angry Broads Authority bosses complained to Norfolk police about some statements made in the review.
That officer had said the behaviour of planning officers "appears to be obstructive, unreasonable and, at times, bizarre".
And they stated: "It appears from the material reviewed in this case that there are issues from the top down within the hierarchy and organisational culture of the Broads Authority, which perhaps affects the ethical running of day to day business in a number of areas, not just the planning department."
Julie Wvendth, chief superintendent at Norfolk police, subsequently wrote to Broads Authority chief executive Dr John Packman to apologise.
She acknowledged no contact had been made with those who allegations had been made against and the investigating officer's comments were "beyond the scope" of the criminal review.
A letter circulated by Broads Authority chair Bill Dickson, following the force's apology letter, stated the authority was "reluctant to institute formal proceedings against the force".
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He wrote: "As you will be aware the Broads Authority has one of its longest running partnerships with the Norfolk Constabulary and Broads Beat is an exemplar of the cooperation between the two organisations with considerable benefit to the public."
But he added the authority may have to proceed with a formal complaint, given actions to "promote" the police report's content.
And a Broads Authority spokesman said: "We are currently in the process of seeking legal advice to ensure we can protect the authority and our members of staff against unfounded allegations of this nature."
Meanwhile, a Broads Authority-commissioned report by an independent planning consultant into the circumstances which prompted the complaint is due to be published on Thursday (September 30).