Broads Authority hits back at report accusing it of ‘manipulation’ and ‘deception’
PUBLISHED: 11:15 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:15 18 March 2020
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The Broads Authority has been accused of “misleading and manipulating” stakeholders after allegations of “untruths” and “deception” were shared with hundreds of Norfolk councillors.
An anonymous report, criticising the authority responsible for Norfolk’s waterways over alleged “misinformation” regarding its National Park status, was sent to almost 300 stakeholders including parish and district councillors, local council associations, MPs and the minister for environment, food and rural affairs.
But the Broads Authority (BA) has hit back at the criticism as inaccurate and said the report was “produced by an anonymous individual and not from a credible source”.
A letter accompanying the report, sent to parish councils, states: “Stakeholders are misled and manipulated by the BA in pursuit of its National Park ambitions.”
It claimed the BA’s description of itself as one of 15 National Parks in the UK “contains two fundamental untruths” and “raises the question of not just trust but motives”.
Critics of the BA have long feared the authority’s closer alignment with national park principles could risk infringing boating rights on the historic network of waterways, which the authority has always denied.
And Broads villages have hit back at moves to introduce National Park branding to their road signs. At the time, Loddon councillor Kay Mason Billig slammed the decision as “a red rag to a bull”, while Sue Hines previously criticised the signs in Acle as “blatantly misleading”.
But Tony Hemmingway, from Acle, said: “The signs don’t bother me in the least.
“I know there is a number of people who are upset by them, but on the other hand, I live in Acle and I’m proud to be part of the Norfolk Broads. It brings us tourism.”
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Mr Hemmingway, who is chairman of the parish council but stressed he was speaking in a personal capacity, added: “What I don’t like is that we have mooring rights that we’ve had for donkey’s years. They seem to be curtailing that for some reason.”
A spokesman for the BA said: “We are aware that a campaign document has been circulated which has been produced by an anonymous individual and not from a credible source.
“It contains a multitude of factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations. We have not received any communication from the individual referenced in the document.“The author has selectively used information to suit the campaign aims of discrediting the status of the Broads as a member of the family of 15 National Parks - something that is incredibly positive for the area and helps to support the visitor economy which is so vital for the Broads.”