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Work to overcome dredging backlog on Broads leads to reduction in patrol hours

PUBLISHED: 14:43 29 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:43 29 July 2017

Broads ranger Jon Hopes. Picture: Andrew Stone

Broads ranger Jon Hopes. Picture: Andrew Stone

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The number of patrol hours conducted by Broads rangers is slightly down due to more money being spent on dredging, the Broads Authority has said.

Broads Authority Chief Executive John Packman and ranger Jon Hopes. Picture: Andrew StoneBroads Authority Chief Executive John Packman and ranger Jon Hopes. Picture: Andrew Stone

Chief Executive John Packman said over the past five years the authority had spent more on dredging in order to overcome a backlog and less on patrolling.

“The number of rangers as a whole and the number of rangers patrolling is bigger than it’s ever been, however it is true that we’re not out quite as much as we used to be so the total number of patrol hours is slightly down.”

He said the authority’s income generated from tolls was divided between three main issues - dredging, maintenance and moorings and patrols.

“A few years ago there was a big demand for us to do more dredging as there was a big backlog.”

Broads ranger Jon Hopes. Picture: Andrew StoneBroads ranger Jon Hopes. Picture: Andrew Stone

He said they removed about 50,000 cubic metres of mud a year with about 20,000 cubic metres coming in.

“So we are making headway into the backlog of mud. But there’s always been this balancing act between the three issues. People want us to do more, but they don’t necessarily want to pay more.”

On average there are typically 11 to 12 rangers out on the water conducting patrols on any given day.

They play a crucial role in ensuring the waterways are navigable, that bylaws are enforced and that help is close at hand if anyone needs it.

The River Ant. Picture: Andrew StoneThe River Ant. Picture: Andrew Stone

Broads ranger Jon Hopes said no two days were ever the same.

The former Broads Beat police officer said he dealt with a range of issues while patrolling his sector of the area’s 125 miles of navigable waterways.

“Just today I attended an incident in which a gentleman’s son was thrown onto the bank while they were trying to moor. The son sprained his ankle.

“Fortunately it was not too serious, but we log all incidents with Broads Control and if I felt that anything else needed to be done there would be a follow up.”

Mr Hopes is one of four rangers who patrol the River Ant and upper River Bure in shifts.

“We’re basically here to help the public and educate them so that they can get the best out of the Broads and we also enforce the bylaws,” he said, adding that their duties extended to regular checks on moorings under the authority’s control and making sure waterways were navigable.

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