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Broads mooring meeting cancelled

PUBLISHED: 10:27 08 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:20 03 July 2010

BOAT owners have been left "baffled" and "concerned for the future" following the late cancellation of a meeting intended to resolve a dispute over moorings on Hickling Broad.

BOAT owners have been left “baffled” and “concerned for the future” following the late cancellation of a meeting intended to resolve a dispute over moorings on Hickling Broad.

The meeting, scheduled for 6pm last night at the Pleasure Boat Inn in Hickling, had been called by Norwich-based Anstruthers Estates, acting as agent for the new landlord Paul Thurston and pub company Enterprise Inns.

It had been prompted by Mr Thurston giving an ultimatum to about 50 boat owners using moorings owned by the pub to vacate them within two weeks or face having them shifted and stored at their expense.

Many of the boat owners had paid mooring fees up to December of as much as £600 to the previous landlady, who was evicted over unpaid debts in April. They were also angry about the short notice to find new moorings.

They were pinning their hopes on finding a compromise deal at last night's meeting, but were informed late on Monday by email of its cancellation.

The email from Anstruthers told them that Mr Thurston had cancelled the meeting “against the best advice offered by ourselves as agents and by Enterprise Inns”. It said they had consequently withdrawn their services as agent.

It pointed out the tenant had been advised to be mindful of the consequences of allowing the continued use of the moorings without addressing the health and safety risks arising from their poor condition.

Mr Thurston, who has put back the re-opening of the pub until July 16, apologised for the late cancellation of the meeting, but said he would be talking to boat owners in due course and was “confident agreement could be reached”. In the meantime, there would be no “draconian action”.

He said he and the boat owners had both been placed in an awkward position through circumstances that were not his fault and “recent actions have not helped”.

Greg Chapman, who has launched an online boat owners' action group, said developments had left everyone he had spoken to “baffled and concerned for the future”.

He said it was unclear whether the cancellation of the meeting signalled that the eviction notices were being withdrawn.

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