No agreement on Broads boat tolls

The Broads Authority’s influential navigation committee yesterday refused to formally comment on plans that could see an extra �250,000 of boat toll money spent on the authority’s general overheads until a detailed financial case is made.

The proposal, described by the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association in Monday’s EDP as a “smash-and-grab raid” on money, is the authority’s response to a projected 30pc cut in government funding.

Chief executive John Packman said that, up to now, the authority’s national park grant had paid for a large proportion of its administrative and support services – in light of the cuts it was recognised that the navigation budget would have to bear a fairer share of these costs.

At yesterday’s meeting, he sought the views of committee members on the principles of what he described as a “transparent and fair” system for apportioning costs, but agreed that detailed figures could not be given until Defra revealed the exact size of the funding cuts.

But, members decisively agreed a resolution that they were “unable to agree to the recommendations in the absence of financial information”.

Committee member Phil Ollier acknowledged the fact that a 30pc funding cut would mean the navigation budget having to cover a greater proportion of the costs. However, he questioned why that would result in a higher sum – given that the authority was being asked to reduce expenditure in all areas.

However, Allan Mallet said the change would reflect the fact that navigation accounted for a large proportion of the authority’s work and the Broads Authority had to reflect the interests of the equally concerned conservationists.

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The committee, which has to agree to any changes in the way toll money is spent, will be consulted again at its meeting in February.