Thursday, 7 April 2016

Authority corrects misleading information from Jenner's Basin campaign co-ordinator

The Broads Authority is disappointed to again be in a position of having to address incorrect and misleading information circulated by the co-ordinator of the Save the Island campaign.

Gary Barnes claims that an interim injunction gave permission for boats to stay at Jenner’s Basin and that in serving it the judge, Justice Nicol, directed both sides to resolve the issue by way of a planning application. In fact the purpose of the injunction is precisely that it’s an interim measure to stop any further unlawful development while the Authority seeks a permanent injunction, which was always part of the planned legal process in this dispute around lack of planning permission. Furthermore Justice Nicol categorically did not direct any parties in respect of a planning application as claimed by Mr Barnes, who was not present at the hearing. The injunction wording including Judge Nicol’s directions can be read here.

The dispute has nothing to do with social cleansing, it is quite simply that the landowner Roger Wood does not have planning permission and has so far not sought permission for the development of the site which is in a conservation area including the moorings that he lets out on a commercial basis. Despite several requests Mr Barnes has failed to produce any evidence that the Authority chairman described residential boaters as “feral” or witnesses to this being said. The Authority strenuously refutes this unpleasant accusation.

Another claim by Mr Barnes is that in 2013 Broads Authority officers directed Norwich City Council to issue trespass notices but only to residential boaters in certain areas of Thorpe Island. Mr Barnes alleges this demonstrates social cleansing.

In fact the decision to issue these trespass notices was made by Norwich City Council officers to protect council-owned assets, in this case the riverbed. Notices served on four newly arrived boats at Thorpe Island on the riverbank next to the bridge (two of which subsequently moved and only one was being lived on) were part of a wider distribution by the council which also included areas closer to the city centre including Cow Tower and at Norwich quayside.

Boats at Jenner’s Basin – the only area subject to the Broads Authority planning dispute, which includes some residential boats – were not issued with notices. This is because Norwich City Council does not own the land there. No notices were served on boats moored opposite Thorpe River Green. The fact that boats within Jenner’s Basin and at Thorpe River Green were not included is inconsistent with allegations that residential boats in certain areas were specifically targeted for reasons of social cleansing.

In a letter to Norwich City Councillors Mr Barnes also states that Mr Wood maintains he has the right to moor boats. But Mr Wood has taken the case to two Secretary of State planning inspectors, an appeal court judge and a high court judge who have all ruled he needs planning permission and that he does not have planning permission.

Mr Wood was not reassured by the Broads Authority that planning permission already existed when he investigated buying the site. Advice from the Broads Authority to Mr Wood’s advisor Bill Knight in an email exchange from January 2003 here was quite the opposite.

Save the Island campaigners are on record estimating that between four to six residential boats were and are in the basin and not the 41 which Mr Barnes claimed were served enforcement notices and that these could move to land Mr Wood also owns at the other end of Thorpe Island. It is not the case that houseboats have been moored in the basin since 1922 and aerial photographic records demonstrate the basin as largely empty before Mr Wood bought it with many of the homes opposite the basin preceding Mr Wood’s unlawful developments.

Lastly there is no evidence to suggest that the vast majority of the people of Thorpe St Andrew support the few residential boaters at Jenner’s Basin.

We would request that Mr Barnes desists with his untruthful smear campaign and anyone interested in the issue read the full facts.

You can read the full facts and background here.

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