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Evicted boat owners to have their say

PUBLISHED: 10:25 06 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:20 03 July 2010

BOAT owners given a two-week ultimatum to vacate moorings on Hickling Broad will have the chance to air their objections at a showdown meeting.

Paul Thurston, new landlord of the Pleasure Boat Inn at Hickling, which controls the moorings, caused widespread fury when he sanctioned the placement of legal notices on about 50 yachts and motor cruisers warning owners to move them by July 15 or face meeting the costs of having them forcibly shifted.

BOAT owners given a two-week ultimatum to vacate moorings on Hickling Broad will have the chance to air their objections at a showdown meeting.

Paul Thurston, new landlord of the Pleasure Boat Inn at Hickling, which controls the moorings, caused widespread fury when he sanctioned the placement of legal notices on about 50 yachts and motor cruisers warning owners to move them by July 15 or face meeting the costs of having them forcibly shifted.

Boat owners said they had already paid their £600 mooring fees up to December to the previous landlady, Julie Mayhew, who was evicted over unpaid debts by the pub company Enterprise Inns. They also said two weeks was an unreasonable timescale to find alternative moorings.

Now Anstruthers Estates, the agent acting for Mr Thurston and Enterprise Inns over the moorings, has agreed to listen to them at a meeting at the pub at 6pm tomorrow.

However, a spokesman for the Norwich-based firm insisted the moorings needed to be cleared so a thorough survey could be done ahead of refurbishment work likely to cost a six-figure sum.

The letting of moorings by the previous tenant had taken away berths for visiting motor cruisers and yachts that were an important source of trade in making the pub a sustainable business.

The spokesman said Mr Thurston initially had no record of who owned the boats and had to ask the Broads Authority to contact owners on his behalf from registration details. He still had no record of who might have paid mooring fees to the previous tenant.

He suggested finding alternative moorings was not such a problem and said a neighbouring boatyard in Hickling had already volunteered to help.

However, Greg Chapman, who has set up a boat owners' online action group, maintained the notices placed by Anstruthers had upset many people.

“I appreciate they have got a pub to run, but the approach has been very heavy-handed,” he said.

Mr Chapman, 60, an adult education tutor from East Walton, near King's Lynn, who keeps his 17ft Seahawk yacht at Hickling, said: “It is hard to believe the pub's new management do not want to offer some long-term moorings.

“If this is the case, then it seems unlikely that they wish to alienate long-standing customers who over a full year contribute a significant income to the pub. I feel there must be some room for manoeuvre.”

Boat owners are urged to sign up to Mr Chapman's group by sending a blank email to pbmoorings-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Mr Thurston, who previously ran the Nelson Head, at Horsey, is set to reopen the pub on Wednesday.

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