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Ultimatum to boat owners

PUBLISHED: 12:20 01 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:17 03 July 2010

About 50 boat owners have been given a two-week ultimatum to vacate moorings on Hickling Broad - even though many have paid up to £600 to keep their craft there until the end of December.

About 50 boat owners have been given a two-week ultimatum to vacate moorings on Hickling Broad - even though many have paid up to £600 to keep their craft there until the end of December.

Legal notices were placed on yachts and motor cruisers moored alongside the Pleasure Boat Inn, at Hickling, earlier this week warning owners to move them by July 16 or face meeting the costs of having them forcibly shifted.

The boat owners had paid their fees to the last landlady, Julie Mayhew, who was evicted by Midlands-based pub company Enterprise Inns after court proceedings in April over a £14,000 debt.

Gas engineer Sean Lock, 44, of Stoke Holy Cross, near Norwich, who moors his 20ft catamaran there, said: “I originally paid up to April and then handed over another £400 in cash for the rest of the year.

“There is apparently no question of refunds or honouring the paid-up moorings, even though receipts were issued and signed by staff at the premises”

Mr Lock, whose two teenage sons go sailing with him, said although some boat owners had already left, he feared that many would struggle to find an alternative mooring at such short notice, and it would be difficult to find somewhere for a boat of his size.

He said: “This appears to be another example of the fat cats taking the little man's money. People work hard to enjoy a few pleasures in life and then get walked all over by these giant money-making machines.

“There seems to be no community spirit or common decency left in this country, especially from the large, faceless companies.”

Legs Dymond, 61, of Bradwell, who has moored his 20ft yacht at Hickling for nine years, said: “I am absolutely devastated. It is ridiculously short notice to find another mooring and they are even talking about impounding boats.”

He said although he had already paid £475 for a year's mooring he had offered to pay again, but was told that was not possible.

A spokesman for Enterprise Inns said the decision to issue the notices had been taken by new tenants who would be re-opening the pub on July 6.

She said it had been forced by the unsafe condition of the moorings.

The handling of mooring fees had been the responsibility of the previous tenant, not the pub company, so anyone owed money would have to seek redress from her.

Attempts were made to call the pub but the new tenants were not available for a comment.

A spokeswoman for the Broads Authority said: “We are vey sympathetic to the plight of the boat owners and we are investigating what more can be done to find new moorings.”

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