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Norfolk broker seeks legal ‘Rights of Passage’ advice after multiple bridge fails

Norfolk Yacht Agency takes action for Broads boaters

After a recent spate of malfunctioning bridges on the Broads, one Norfolk yacht broker is taking action to tackle the problem for the Broads boating community. Norfolk Yacht Agency (NYA) is seeking legal advice and with it financial backing to determine the Rights of Passage for boaters. In an address to all Broads boaters, MD of NYA, James Fraser, wrote “Our Summer of discontent with regard to the opening of the Broadland Bridges continues. The Haven Bridge has finally been repaired after some five weeks out of service, but Somerleyton & Mutford swing bridges continue to cause regular problems. The fact is that the cost of replacement is significant (circa £30-million per bridge) and the relevant authorities seem to have their head in the sand hoping the problem (we boaters) will go away. I am in communication with John Packman, CEO of the Broads Authority, who is in communications with Network Rail. However, these discussions have been going on for many years. I fear we may soon be faced with a situation where one or more of the bridges fail and remain shut for months or years. In order to understand the full legal position regarding Rights of Passage and right to redress, I would like to seek Barristers opinion on the matter. This is estimated to cost in the region of £5,000 in legal fees, so I am asking for your help.” James added that NYA is seeking pledges of up to £200 maximum, saying that they will not be taking any money at this stage, but the more who agree to help, the cheaper the cost per head will be when the bill comes. NYA has said it will underwrite any shortfall beyond this amount. James added “I cannot promise that this will solve our problems, but a full understanding of the current legal position will stand us in good stead and inform you of your Navigation Rights. A full copy of the Barristers opinion will be forwarded to all donors.” At the time of writing a rally fleet of 12 motorboats were stuck the wrong side of Reedham Bridge pictured, due to it being reported as broken. With a Haven Bridge opening booked, they were due to head out to sea, bound for the River Orwell on the Suffolk coast.

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