Thursday, 20 July 2017

Thorpe Island - Episode 5

2015 image showing moored boats on river bank. EDP copyright

The Chief Executive and I continue to go in circles, with me asking him to explain why members were misled and misdirected over the new planning policy, and him failing to answer.

On 5th July, I received a 3 page letter from the Chief Executive, most of which didn't deal with my concerns. He touched on them briefly, however:
I have considered your 11 points against the recording of the May Planning Committee and the briefing provided to the June meeting and concluded that none of them have any substance.
A full and thorough Yare House “investigation”, then.

A further email received this week spent 4 pages summarising our correspondence to date (a bit like writing out an exam question in full rather than get on with answering it) before finally having a go at addressing the first of my 11 concerns. This was the business of members being told, in response to a direct question, that there hadn’t been any boats moored at the western end of the island.

I'm struggling to make out the Chief Executive’s response to this, but he’s either saying a) that officers had no idea that boats had moored historically on the river bank; or b) that they did know, but they gave a tricksy reply which required a very literal interpretation of the word “always”, and a new definition of the noun “mooring” which would require the permanent presence of a boat.

Here is the Chief Executive’s response - you decide what he meant:
I have listened to the recording from the meeting of the Planning Committee on 26th May 2017 and this is a transcript of what was said: 
Member: “The comment that there will be no moorings along the river frontage. As far as I know there has always been moorings there”. 
Officer 1: “Not on the basin. Not at the opening of the basin and along that end. No there haven't been.” 
Officer 2 : “Not at the western end’.
Officer 1: “But they have at River Green”.
If I understand it correctly, you are stating that [Officer 1] and [Officer 2] knew for a fact that there had always been mooring at the western end of Thorpe Island, and that they therefore deliberately misled and misdirected Committee members in their response. You have not provided any evidence to substantiate that allegation. 
To support your case, you draw my attention to a number of photographs, some from the 1960s and 1970s, which show mooring taking place at the western end of Thorpe Island. However, there are as many photographs that show a complete absence of moored boats at that location, which demonstrates that boats have not always been mooring there.
On the basis of the solicitor’s advice, [Officer 1] and [Officer 2]’s negative response to [Member]’s comment that there has “always been mooring there” appears to me to be factually correct in regard to the river moorings at the western end of Thorpe Island.
There was no attempt to address the remaining 10 concerns, or answer my question about why the Broads Authority is so keen to abandon these mooring rights in perpetuity.

Instead, the Chief Executive has referred the matter to the Chair of the Authority and the Monitoring Officer, on the grounds that he believes my questions to be a breach of the protocol on member / officer relations. This is in spite of the fact that I have made clear that I am asking these questions as a member of the public, and not as a member of the navigation committee.

For the benefit of anyone wanting to investigate this in more depth, I've put a collection of documents on to Google Drive. This includes the (redacted) correspondence between the Authority and myself. Anyone can look at them by following this link.

I will add to this over time, if more documents come my way.

Readers should note that this article represents my personal opinions and should not be construed as being the view of the Navigation Committee. They are made in my private capacity as an individual, and not as a co-opted member of the Navigation Committee.

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