Broads Authority to take over ownership of Mutford Lock
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
One of the gateways to the region's most popular landmarks is to be placed in the hands of those who look after them.
Anybody travelling by water to make the most of the Broads from Lowestoft will likely pass through Mutford Lock, the passageway used to access Oulton Broad from the North Sea.
Now, the lock is to become even more a part of the Broads family, with those responsible for the attraction - voted the region's favourite on Norfolk Day - to also take on its ownership.
The lock is soon to be transferred to the Broads Authority, after it reached an agreement with the current owner Associated British Ports.
And while the BA has been responsible for maintaining the lock for a number of years, this move will mean it would also have greater control over its future use.
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John Packman, chief executive of the Broads Authority, said: 'This will mean ultimately we will have greater control over the lock.
'Some time ago there were concerns over the lock being closed down, which is a big part of why we wanted control over it.
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'As an authority, we have a responsibility to maintain the navigation of our waters and this is a key route into the sea from the Broads area.'
Mr Packman said there was a time when the lock's use was limited to just two hours per week, which helped alert the authority to the need to properly maintain it.
He added: 'The most important thing about this is that it secures this second route to the sea.
'We go into this with our eyes open to the costs of the lock, its condition and what it takes to maintain it.
'We know it is going to be one of our biggest assets, as well as one of the biggest risks, but there were concerns the current ownership may not have seen it as being as important as we do.'
Mr Packman said the costs of maintaining the lock would be provided by the existing charges the Broads Authority received from vessels passing through the gateway.