The reply concerning Dr Gray includes the Defra response to a similar query a year ago. Defra looked into the matter then and ruled that Dr Gray’s appointment was not unlawful and that to terminate his membership in light of new government policy would be “inappropriate”. Furthermore the original enforcement notice in relation to Jenner's Basin was served before Dr Gray's reappointment to a second term.
We continue to be disappointed at the distortion of truth by leaders of the Save the Island campaign around this matter and trust that anyone considering lending support to the campaign will take the full picture into account.
A representative from the campaign also indicated that the four to six residential boats in Jenner's Basin could be accommodated at the land Mr Wood also owns at the eastern end of the island, which is not subject to the dispute or action. Further details are below.
Reply to campaign leader concerning Murray Gray
The reply from Mr Packman stated:
“Further to your emails to Professor Burgess and Dr Gray can I set out for you the response from Defra a year ago to a previous enquiry on the subject of Dr Gray's reappointment to the Broads Authority.
Defra response: ‘Dr Murray Gray was appointed to the Broads Authority by the Secretary of State on 1 June 2008 for a four-year term and was re-appointed to the Broads Authority by the Secretary of State on 1 April 2012 for a further four-year term which will expire on 31 March 2016. He was a serving councillor when appointed in 2008 and when reappointed in 2012.
‘The English National Parks and the Broads UK Government Vision and Circular 2010, a statement of Government policy, was issued in March 2010 and provided updated policy guidance on the English National Parks and the Broads. The circular directs that “the Secretary of State does not propose to appoint as a Secretary of State member anyone who is a serving councillor of a local authority appointing members to the Authority.” The Circular is a statement of Government policy and is not law. Dr Gray is therefore not barred as a matter of law. In addition, the policy did not state that the Secretary of State would revoke the membership of anyone appointed in contravention of it.
‘Dr Gray did not mislead the Secretary of State at the time of his reappointment by concealing his Councillor status. The Secretary of State is therefore bound to consider what is most appropriate in the circumstances. In this instance, the Secretary of State has concluded that it would be inappropriate to have his membership terminated.’
We had looked at possible options to resolve the situation and this included submitting a planning application following the independent Planning Inspector’s decision in 2014. This was to allow mooring for 25 boats with certain conditions being met around elements such as landscaping, parking and access. It was made clear that any decision would ultimately rest with members however.
In the second meeting the landowner Roger Wood indicated he would be willing to submit such an application and allow the proper process to take its course so the right decision could be made. While we are not obliged to entertain an application during a live enforcement, we would encourage this and provide support and advice.
However we have received legal advice concerning issues in ignoring our duty to carry out the enforcement which is now live after Mr Wood’s action at the Court of Appeal was unsuccessful and which other Thorpe residents expect us to carry out. We have also been advised that we are unable to contribute money to any individual’s planning application costs or allow development outside the remit of the independent Planning Inspector’s decision.
The Jenner’s Basin residents have indicated that they will continue their campaign in light of this. We will however support and advise Mr Wood who stated he was willing to move forward with an application and look at ways of complying with the enforcement notice in the meantime.
A representative from the campaign also indicated that the four to six residential boats in Jenner's Basin could be accommodated at the land Mr Wood also owns at the eastern end of the island, which is not subject to the dispute or action, at the second of the recorded meetings with the Broads Authority. (Numbers of boats are discussed in the first meeting from 9m 58s and accommodation at the eastern end of the island is discussed in the second meeting from 47m)