I created this blog to allow stakeholders of the Broads Authority to share their experiences.
I am a Director of two award-winning Broads holiday businesses - Waveney River Centre (at Burgh St Peter) and Ferry Marina (at Horning). I believe that I have experience which spans the 3 statutory purposes of the Broads Authority - looking after the interests of conservation, navigation and public access. I am also a Chartered Surveyor.
I am currently a member of the Broads Authority's Navigation Committee and was, until February 2016, a Member of the full Authority - until I was expelled for causing it "financial and reputational harm." The allegations were vague (as well as false) but it didn't stop the BA from publishing a libellous press release about me. What they really meant was that I asked a lot of difficult questions which they didn't want to answer and, worse than that, I didn't accept the answers when I knew that they were wrong.
Like most others, I joined the Broads Authority with noble ambitions to contribute to the debate, and improve the way in which it did things. In particular, I wanted the Authority to engage and communicate properly with its stakeholders because I was aware of its poor public perception. Unfortunately, the Authority's idea of better communication is to try ever harder to explain itself - rather than to listen to the concerns of the toll payers, residents and businesses who are affected by its decisions.
During my time with the Authority, I did two things which really wound up the Chief Executive and senior Members. Firstly, before I was a full Member, I started a blog called Broads National Pike - this was intended us a bit of a one-hit wonder, taking a playful swipe at a public authority wanting to call itself something that it isn't. But it was quite popular and I did a few more pieces, before other people got involved in taking it forward after I joined the full Authority. Unfortunately, because I chose to protect the names of those people, it was assumed that I was still responsible for the writing, which became increasingly critical of the regime. Three different Members made code of conduct complaints against me for writing the blog, despite having no evidence, and the Chair of the Authority chose to handle the first two complaints herself instead of passing them to the Monitoring Officer in the proper way. When the complaint was finally considered correctly, it was concluded that there was nothing unlawful or unethical in writing a blog and that even if I had written it, no offence would have been committed. Meanwhile, the Chair of the Authority - Prof Jacquie Burgess - is under investigation for attempting to operate her own private disciplinary process, of which more some other time.
The other thing I did was to sign a petition called 'Save The Island', and write to all BA Members, urging them to engage with the landowner to resolve the planning issues, rather than continuing to waste public money on a legal battle which by that point had cost over £100,000 and which had never, ever, been considered or authorised by the full Authority.
Over the coming weeks, I'll be fleshing out these stories on this website. You can learn, for example, how the Chair of the Authority - recently elected Chairman of National Parks UK - operated a secret star chamber in which she tried to bully me into being quiet about Hoveton Great Broad so as not to prejudice the Heritage Lottery Fund against the Broads Authority's own application for grant funding.
And I'll be revealing the name of the senior Member who told me that blighting Roger Wood's land was a perfectly legitimate commercial aim for the BA, so that "somebody more suitable can buy the marina and turn it into a little gold mine".
Over time, I hope that others will contribute their experiences to this site, to help you to build up your own picture of this organisation. In my view, it is un-democratic, un-accountable and answerable to nobody and requires fundamental overhaul by Government. But please, make up your own mind.
If you find the site interesting, please share it with your friends.