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Broads bill facing further delay

PUBLISHED: 17:20 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 11:14 03 July 2010

THE controversial bill governing how the Broads will be run is to be delayed again.

The Broads Bill was to be given its second reading in the House of Lords in a fortnight's time, but the debate has been delayed until October because not everyone involved was available.

THE controversial bill governing how the Broads will be run is to be delayed again.

The Broads Bill was to be given its second reading in the House of Lords in a fortnight's time, but the debate has been delayed until October because not everyone involved was available.

It is a further blow to the Broads Authority, which has already seen the bill delayed and costs spiral. The original cost of £200,000 is already expected to become £400,000, and the costs could become higher still.

The private bill is being put before parliament by the Broads Authority to give it powers to improve safety on the Broads, in particular licensing for hire boats, compulsory third-party insurance and boat safety tests.

It is being sponsored in the House of Lords by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James.

When it was scheduled for July 2 it appeared that the bishop would be unable to sponsor the bill because of a clash of dates, but on Monday the bishop said he was still planning to sponsor the bill.

The earliest possible date for the second reading is October 6, the day the House of Lords returns after summer recess, but five other dates in October are also being considered. The committee stage, which is expected to take nearly two weeks, could still start as early as late October, but may not even be completed this year.

Just four months ago the Broads Authority was still hoping the bill would receive royal assent by the summer recess.

Broads Authority chief executive John Packman said he was disappointed by the delay, which is taking up officers' time that could be spent doing other things.

He said: “The cost so far was around £320,000, with a further £80,000 allocated in this year's budget.

“I don't know whether we are going to need to make more money available in this year's budget. It is this small group of individuals pursuing their own cause that are costing us money and costing tollpayers money.”

Paul Thomas, spokesman for the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association, said: “This has been a sledgehammer to crack a nut about boat safety and third-party insurance for a long time.

The Broads Bill is now becoming a lengthy, unnecessary, bureaucratic waste of tollpayers' money.”

Fourteen petitions have been lodged against the bill, one from the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club, one from the Norfolk County Association of Town and Parish Councils and 12 from individuals.

Dr Packman said he hoped the yacht club could be persuaded to drop its opposition and that the Norfolk County Association's objection - which asks for two elected councillors to be given a seat on the Broads Authority - would be ruled outside the scope of the bill.

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