Friday, 18 March 2016

Authority to trial paperless tolls

Broads Authority members today made the bold move to trial a paperless tolls system for the coming season.

The idea to not issue tolls plaques but instead keep all compliance data electronically has been under consideration since the DVLA’s successful move to paperless vehicle tax.

And now the recent issues with ink seepage from this year’s plaques have given the Authority the impetus to carry the initiative out in the 2016/17 tolls season. An evaluation of staff and public impact, toll uptake, cost-effectiveness and efficiency will be undertaken in the autumn before deciding whether to take the new system forward for future seasons.

John Packman, Chief Executive, said: “The recent issues have meant that we are in an unprecedented situation which is not one of our making but one where we need to think more imaginatively. We wanted to treat this as an opportunity to solve the current difficulty and trial a bold but potentially very successful move. It will mean a different way of working and a cultural change to how we do things to make this work but I hope that it will be received very positively.”

An internal discussion and consultation with members of the Navigation Committee, the Broads Hire Boat Federation and the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association took place before members of the Broads Authority were recommended to undertake the trial. Members supported the proposal with only one abstention and no one voting against it.

To ensure toll evasion is kept to a minimum a system is now being developed for rangers to have easy access via a laptop or smartphone to a database of boats that have paid their toll which will be updated on a daily basis and an online system is being looked at for members of the public to access basic information.

Dr Packman said: “Overall this move will save a considerable amount of time for our tolls team and enable them to streamline their processes. We have also sought legal advice and confirmed that this is consistent with the Vessel Registration Byelaws. While there may be some teething issues, we will keep a close eye on how things go and will fully evaluate the new system.”

For those already issued with their 2016/17 tolls plaque the advice is to not fix them to boats. Anyone who has already put one of this season’s plaques on their vessel is advised to remove it.

The tolls team have been working with the print supplier to establish exactly what the cause of the ink seepage is and also what can be done to rectify it but despite numerous tests by the both the printers and the Authority the precise reason is still unknown and therefore a reprint is looking increasingly unworkable. Officers considered supplying plastic covers but there is no certainty that these can be affixed to vessels without causing damage.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Authority successful in its application for interim injunction at Jenner's Basin

The Broads Authority has been granted its request for an interim injunction in relation to Jenner’s Basin after successfully applying to the high court.

The effect of the injunction is to prevent the escalation of planning breaches at the basin before the hearing of the permanent injunction application by the Authority which is likely to be later in the spring.

An interim injunction is a temporary measure to prevent further unlawful development by the landowner while a permanent injunction is sought, the effect of which would be to remedy the existing planning breaches and require the clearance of the site.

For the purposes of full accuracy and clarity here is the interim injunction document issued by the judge.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Broads boaters warned about running ink on tolls plaques

Broads boaters are being advised not to fix toll plaques on their vessels while the Broads Authority urgently investigates an issue with running ink.

A very small number of reports about ink running from the plaques when they get wet onto vessel hulls has come in and as soon as the Authority was aware of the issue it called an immediate meeting with its print supplier to try and find a solution.

The supplier, which the Authority has used for 20 years with no previous issues, is now testing the efficacy of various solutions for the plaques already sent out by the Authority, including additional waterproofing. It is also investigating the cause, believed to be related to the waterproofing additive in the ink, to avoid the same problem in future.

John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority, said: “We sincerely regret that this has been an issue for a small number of boaters and, until further notice while investigations are ongoing, are advising people not to fix their plaques to their vessels but to keep them on board ready in case they need to be produced.

“We will be writing to every boater who has already been sent a plaque to ensure they are aware of this advice and we will keep boaters updated on progress through our usual channels.”