Time has flown by in recent weeks and we have moved from our summer way of working to our winter mode. This has meant saying farewell to our seasonal staff who, like swallows, we look forward to welcoming back in the spring. It also involves the start up our dredging and tree management programmes for the winter. The highlight of the last month is the confirmation from the Heritage Lottery Fund of the £2.44 million funding for Water, Mills and Marshes and the great coverage we received from the BBC, including appearing on the front page of the national website for the first time.
Water, Mills and Marshes
The welcomed news in October was that the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £2.44 million through its Landscape Partnership programme for the Water, Mills and Marshes project. With £1.52 million of partnership contributions, this brings the total scheme value up to £3.96 million over the five years of the project. As you will know this has not only been a challenge for Broads Authority staff – particularly Will (Burchnall) and Ben (Hogg) – but several years of work so it was great to have a very positive outcome. Now the sizeable task begins in terms of delivering all the projects. We have already begun by recruiting the additional staff required and we have made two offers this week for Project Officers to start in January. (Note: We are also recruiting a Project Manager to help us run our EU funded CANAPE programme).
We were all particularly pleased with the coverage the BBC gave us locally on the announcement with a lovely piece on the laser scanning of windmills. We are intending to show this to members at the Broads Authority meeting next week. The link to the Mike Liggins’ programme was on the front page of the BBC website and had many thousand readers and can be found here.
Discover England Fund
On top of CANAPE and Water, Mills and Marshes we have been party to another successful major funding bid, this time by the English National Parks to Visit England. England’s National Parks have been awarded £1m from the Discover England Fund, complemented by £400k in match funding, to introduce a collection of National Park experiences designed to inspire overseas visitors from Australia and Germany.
The project “Make great memories in England’s National Parks” is a two year collaboration that will deliver a joined up, branded collection of signature experiences and a business support and trade marketing strategy.
You may well ask why Germany and Australia? Research has shown that these are the two overseas markets with greatest potential for us. This was recently made real for me when I was showing a visitor around the Norwich Yacht Station. Christon (Iliffe) was on duty and was able to answer all the questions posed to him, including one about the origin of our overseas visitors – Christon’s reply included Germany and Australia high up on the list.
Rob (Leigh) has been supporting the programme this week shortlisting contractors for part of the work and many of us will be contributing in one way or another over the coming two years.
End of Season Meetings
One of my favourite events of the year is attending the end of season meetings for the Rangers and our Visitor Services staff. It is always amazing to learn how our staff manage to overcome such a wide variety of challenging incidents over the course of the season. For example they showed a video of another occasion when a young man fell into the water at Great Yarmouth Yacht Station, who was swiftly helped out of the river by our team. We wish all our seasonal staff all the best for the winter and look forward to seeing them next spring.
Modernisation of our Equipment
When the Authority took over direct responsibility from May Gurney for the dredging of the waterways we inherited a vast array of equipment, much of which had seen better days and belonged either on the scrap heap or in a museum. Since then, the Authority has been steadily investing in new equipment and retiring the older bits of kit. Grab 10, an older mechanical crane, has now come to the end of a long career in the Broads and been replaced by a new JCB long reach excavator. (see attached picture).
Winter is the time when we can get on with crucial maintenance tasks and we are currently mobilising to remove the marker posts in the River Chet and to carry out dredging on the lower Bure near 3 Mile House. You may also see our Rangers out on the river banks removing overhanging trees.
National Park Conference
The biennial National Park Conference was held in the South Downs at the end of October. One of the key emerging themes from the event was a challenge as to how we can increase our engagement with non-traditional visitors especially the young and ethnic minority communities. Our own Sarah Mukherjee was a speaker on the last day and spoke passionately of her own experience. A young man made the point that we collectively are still not up to date enough to attract the attention of young people via a National Park app.
Jacquie Burgess accepted the National Park Hero Award on the last day on behalf of Gary Cotton and will be presenting this to Gary next Friday. You will recall Gary is one of our seasonal staff at the Yarmouth Yacht Station and saved the life of a young girl who fell into the river.
You will recall the last briefing contained a link to the report for the Navigation Committee regarding navigation charges for next year. The Committee has recommended a 3% increase which, if adopted, would provide extra income for new equipment to assist in the management of trees and bankside vegetation and the purchase of safety signs warning boaters about their speed. This recommendation will be considered by the Broads Authority next week.
Broads Authority – looking after the Broads National Park
Broads Authority, Yare House, 62-64 Thorpe Road. Norwich NR1 1RY