Norfolk Broads row sees free mooring at beauty spot end after 50 years

Free moorings at Barton Turf will come to an end on June 1

Free moorings at Barton Turf will come to an end on June 1 - Credit: Supplied

For generations, holidaymakers have been able to moor up their boats overnight at Barton Turf staithe, to enjoy one of the most picturesque spots on the Norfolk Broads.

But this is set to end, after a row between the local parish council and the Broads Authority (BA) led to the withdrawal of free mooring at the riverside location.

From this week onwards, motor and sailing cruisers will no longer be able to stay at the staithe for any period. Only dinghies will be permitted to moor there.

It follows a disagreement between the Broads Authority and Barton Turf and Irstead Parish Council, from which it leases the site, over the cost of the contract.

The BA and its predecessor organisation, the Port and Haven Commissioners, have leased the moorings for the last 50 years, for a nominal annual fee of £1.

But it had asked the authority to start paying £675 a year, to cover the cost of maintaining the staithe, after discovering that other villages on the Broads received fees for leasing moorings to the BA.

The authority refused and will not renew the lease when it ends on Wednesday this week.

Glenn Neave, the chairman of Barton Turf & Irstead Parish Council

Glenn Neave, the chairman of Barton Turf & Irstead Parish Council - Credit: Supplied

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Glenn Neave, chairman of the parish council said he was disappointed by the move after he and his colleagues spent seven years negotiating the contract.

He said a commercial landowner could expect to lease a similar mooring for £1,000.

"We are not prepared to give away a valuable asset when other places get paid, it wouldn't be fair on our parishioners," he said.

"This mooring is being lost because BA can’t afford £675 a year for a full maintenance lease even though they pay considerably more at other locations with less facilities."

He said the council had offered some of the staithe - which has space for four boats - for free, as long as the authority maintained it, but this option had been rejected.

Mr Neave said the council also suggested BA install electric charging points to help with their plans to encourage more electric boats, but that this was also rebuffed.

Barton Turf moorings 

Barton Turf moorings - Credit: Supplied

He said the village would not be able to afford to maintain the mooring for use by cruisers, as the steel quay heading required costs around £1,000 per metre to replace.

It means the mooring will be turned over to only dinghies, although water and bin facilities - which were in place for use by holidaymakers - will stay for the rest of the season.

A BA spokeswoman said the proposals put forward by the council were "untenable".

She said: “Managing our network of 60 free 24-hour moorings represents a considerable liability and risk for the Broads Authority. Typically, where there is a piled edge, we take on the responsibility from the landowner to manage and replace this (at a cost of approx. £1000 per m) in return for a long-term lease at a nominal rent.

"The Authority inherited the lease for this mooring at Barton Turf, without liability for the piling, from the Port and Haven Commissioners. Despite this, we have managed and maintained the mooring over a fifty-year period.

"Barton Turf and Irstead Parish Council’s (BTIPC) offer of a short 7-year lease, with a commercial rent and liability for the piling resting with the Authority, was unanimously rejected as untenable by the Authority’s Navigation Committee.

"BTIPC will now be responsible for this short length of mooring. While the outcome of the negotiations is disappointing, a longer length of free 24-hour mooring is available at nearby Paddy’s Lane.”