Suffolk MP threatens Norfolk Broads bill

PUBLISHED: 17:26 06 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:58 22 October 2010

Broads bosses have moved to play down a row over the national park's name after one of the region's MPs vowed to block the word Norfolk.

Broads bosses have moved to play down a row over the national park's name after one of the region's MPs vowed to block the word Norfolk.

Bob Blizzard, MP for Waveney, said he would fight the private bill giving the authority new powers and if it also calls the area the Norfolk Broads National Park.

But John Packman, chief executive of the Broads Authority, said today that The Broads National Park was the preferred name, with the word Norfolk forming part of an ongoing public consultation.

Delaying of the bill, which will be laid before parliament in November and first debated in January, will also delay the introduction of new safety measures included within it.

Question over the proposed name have caused uproar in Suffolk since the EDP revealed last month that the Broads Authority was considering the name Norfolk Broads as being more relevant to visitors from beyond East Anglia.

But businesses and community leaders in Beccles and Oulton Broad have slated the suggestion, claiming it could ruin north Suffolk businesses that rely on river and broads trade.

Mr Blizzard, said Norfolk Broads would be “an inaccurate name”.

“Two of the best parts of the Broads, Oulton Broad and Beccles are in Suffolk, as are Bungay and Somerleyton,” he said. “To call these places the Norfolk Broads National Park would be insensitive and unacceptable to those in the tourism industry in my part of Suffolk. If the Broads Authority doesn't get this right, I will block this bill when it comes to parliament.”

A private bill can be challenged and delayed by an MP and parliament can insist on amendments.

Mr Packman said slowing it down would put up the cost of the bill.

“The name is not the main purpose of the bill. The name is important but the main purpose of the bill is navigation and safety,” he said. “The reason we are anxious to put it through as quickly as possible is not just in terms of money but so the safety measures are enacted as quickly as possible.”

Mr Packman said Mr Blizzard's opposition to the bill could not stop it altogether, but delays could make it more expensive.

“We would clearly prefer to have all the local MPs in support of the bill. That is our ambition. We would want Bob Blizzard in there arguing our case,” he said, adding that the authority's preference was to call it the Broads National Park.

“That is the view that the authority has taken for some time,” he said. “We put a draft of it out and we have had quite a few comments back saying, 'You want to be thinking about calling it the Norfolk Broads National Park'.”

Broads Authority members will make a decision in July, taking the outcome of the consultation into account.

Meanwhile South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon said he had fond memories of Oulton Broad but did not feel the name Norfolk Broads would stop visitors going into Suffolk.

“People who are visiting the area don't take any notice of arbitrary boundaries,” he said. “I think Bob should calm down a bit.”

Oulton Broad is one of the largest areas of peat excavation that flooded and became broads in the medieval era, while along the coast between Lowestoft and Southwold lie Easton, Benacre and Covehithe Broads.

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