Row erupts over renaming of Broads
THE normally calm waters of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are about to get choppy as a row is breaking out over the name of the attraction.The inland waterways criss-cross the border of the two counties but the Broads Authority is preparing to launch a new name - and it has divided opinion on both sides of the River Waveney.
By David Lennard
THE normally calm waters of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are about to get choppy as a row is breaking out over the name of the attraction.
The inland waterways criss-cross the border of the two counties but the Broads Authority is preparing to launch a new name - and it has divided opinion on both sides of the River Waveney.
The authority is putting a Bill before Parliament which will allow the area to become an official National Park and it is proposing that it should be known as the Norfolk Broads to make it easier to market as a tourist destination.
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But John Packman, Broads Authority chief executive, said: “In terms of external perceptions Norfolk Broads is a much more relevant title.”
The waterways have been officially known as the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads since 1988 and business leaders and politicians in Suffolk have not welcomed the proposed change.
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Roger Cox, manager of the Wherry Hotel at Oulton Broad, which overlooks the Suffolk broads, said: “In making this decision the Broads Authority would be saying they don't want anything to do with Suffolk.
“By labelling it the Norfolk Broads they would be cutting us and many others off and I'm sure that would be bad for business. It would give off completely the wrong message to visitors.”
Beccles is another Suffolk town linked with the broads and it even has a Norfolk and Suffolk Broads information kiosk at its harbour.
John Taylor, county councillor for the town, said local people and businesses were feeling “disenchanted”.
Fellow county councillor Malcolm Cherry at Oulton added: “People often don't realise Suffolk contains a large area of the broads but that is a reason to promote them more, not leave them out.”
Waveney MP Bob Blizzard, who has promised to do all he can to prevent the name change going ahead, said: “I completely object to them being called the Norfolk Broads and will block the Bill if they insist on it. It would be offensive to the people of Suffolk.”
Scott Dolling, destination marketing manager with the Suffolk Tourism Partnership, said it would be useful if a brand name could be agreed that reflects the unique quality of the area but does not distance one side or the other. He said his view was that The Broads is a strong enough brand name to work.
The Broads Authority, which administers the area, is consulting with the public on the proposed change until July 7.
Members, nine representing the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, six from Norfolk and only two from Suffolk, meet to make a final decision on July 28.
The broads have been important for sailing and other types of boating since the end of the 19th Century.
It is a unique navigation system where special inland sailing craft have evolved and where sailing has remained a significant influence.
It is Britain's largest protected wetland.
Two million people visit each year.
It is the third largest inland waterway in the UK.
It offers 125miles (200km) of boating on lock-free waterways.