Members' Handbook

Welcome to the Broads Authority Members' Handbook. The following will provide you with all the relevant information to assist you with your Broads Authority Membership.

Members' Handbook (PDF)

An Introduction to the Broads and the Broads Authority

National Parks are a 19th Century American invention which was adopted in the UK after the 2nd World War. The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 introduced a process for the designation of National Parks and the Environment Act 1995 established National Park Authorities. From as early as the 1930s the Broads had been considered as a potential National Park being Britain’s largest and most important wetland. The reason why it was not included in the first round of the designations in the 1950s is because of initial concerns about the costs of maintaining the Broads.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is Britain's largest protected wetland for some of the rarest plants and animals in the UK. The local tourism industry is a major contributor to the local economy and the area is one of the most important inland waterways. The Broads National Park attracts 7.46M visitors every year. Tourism is the second largest industry in the area (second only to farming) supporting over 7000 jobs and contributing £592M to the local economy.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988 gave the Broads an equivalent status to that of a national park. By creating a Special Statutory Authority the Government recognised the Broads needed the same protection as a national park but with the added responsibility for protecting and maintaining the waterways. More details on legislation can be found online.

The Broads Authority was set up in 1989, with responsibility for the Broads and specifically conservation, planning, recreation and waterways. Whilst the area administered by the Authority is formally known as the Broads Authority Executive Area, the term “Broads National Park” has been adopted by the Authority to promote the area and increase awareness of the unique qualities of the Broads.

As an organisation, the Broads Authority is an independent body working within the framework of local government. It is constituted as a body corporate by the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988 with three general duties:

  • To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Broads
  • To promote opportunities for the understanding enjoyment of the special qualities of the Broads by the public
  • To protect the interests of navigation

In discharging its general functions, the Authority shall have regard to:

  • The national importance of the Broads as an area of natural beauty and one which affords opportunities for open air-recreation;
  • The desirability of protecting the natural resources of the Broads from damage;
  • The needs of agriculture and forestry and the economic and social interests of those who live or work in the Broads.

In relation to the navigation area, the Authority shall:

  • Maintain the navigation area for the purposes of navigation to such standard as appears to it to be reasonably required.
  • Take such steps to improve and develop it as it thinks fit.

The Broads Authority is also the local planning authority for the area and a harbour and navigation authority.

The Authority is required to produce and regularly review a management plan called The Broads Plan.

The Broads Plan

The Broads Plan is the strategic management plan for the Broads. It sets out a long-term vision and guiding actions to protect and enhance the area's special qualities. The current Broads Plan covers the period 2017-22. While the Broads Authority is responsible for its production it is a partnership plan, and its success depends on a common vision, strong partnership working and the best use of shared resources.

Business Plan

Our Annual Business Plan gives an overview of our work priorities for the coming year. It is a link between the Broads Plan, which sets the high level partnership strategy for the Broads National Park, and the Authority’s Directorate work plans

Strategic Priorities

http://www.broads-authority.gov.uk/broads-authority/how-we-work/strategy

Each year the Authority identifies a small set of strategic priorities that focus on Authority-led projects that have high resource needs or a very large impact on the Broads, or that are politically sensitive. Setting these priorities helps target resources and make the most of partnership working and external funding opportunities. Priorities are set each year, although the scale of many projects means they are implemented over several years. The progress on the strategic priorities is presented at each Broads Authority meeting.

Broads Authority Staff

Around 150 staff work for the Broads Authority in full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary positions.

We also have a great team of volunteers that help us look after the Broads. The work they undertake covers a variety of areas from countryside management to patrolling the waterways to research and administrative work. As well as fulfilling many of the statutory functions of the Authority, they also provide a vital link with our local communities.

There are three Directorates:

  • Chief Executive: Finance and Governance
  • Operations: Construction, maintenance and environment teams, ranger services, safety management and the volunteer service.
  • Strategic Services: Tolls, strategy and projects, development management (planning), communications, IT and human resources

See our Organisational Structure Chart for more details.

Finance

The Authority is funded from two major sources; National Park Grant (NPG) from Defra and Navigation Toll Income. These are approximately equal to each other and are used to fund the activities (including staffing) across the organisation. This is supplemented by planning fee income, fen management and Rural Payments Agency income, staff recharges to Whitlingham Charitable Trust, Visitor Centres /Yacht Station sales and external funding projects such as Heritage Lottery Fund and European Regional Development Fund.

The Financial Strategy sets the annual budget and provides indicative figures for the following two financial years. This is agreed annually by the Broads Authority normally at the January meeting but this can be as late as the March meeting, depending on when the NPG settlement is received.

The consolidated budget is split between National Park and Navigation activities as the legislation dictates that only Navigation Income can be spent on Navigation activities. A number of budget headings make up the consolidated budget with activities split by percentages between the two. These percentages were originally agreed by the Resource Allocation Working Group but can be amended by the Authority as long as it is not in contradiction to the legislation.

The budget is monitored throughout the financial year (1 April to 31 March) and reported to the Authority as part of the Finance Performance and Direction paper. Budget holders are asked to provide commentary on a monthly basis as to any variances (differences) between their profiled budget and their actual position. There can be a number of reasons for variances throughout the year which can include contract savings, receipt of additional income or contractor delays. Members receive commentary on these and an indication of what the final results will look like, this is referred to as the Forecast Outturn.

At the end of the financial year the actual levels of income and expenditure are used to produce the Statement of Accounts. These include additional adjustments made at the end of the year to cover items such as depreciation and pension contributions. Training is provided to members to help understand the differences. The accounts have to be produced in draft by 31 May and approved by the Authority by 31 July. They are audited by the Authority’s external auditors Ernst & Young between these periods and are made available for public inspection. Copies are also available on the website via the following link: Annual Accounts

The Statement of Accounts is made up of core statements which include the Comprehensive Income and Expenditure Statement, Balance Sheet, Movement in Reserves and Cash flow. These are supplemented by a number of notes which contains more detail compared to the core statements. One of the notes is specific to related party transactions. This includes transactions between the members and the Authority. It is crucial that members submit their annual declarations as accurately as possible including any pecuniary interests as this is disclosed within the note. Further guidance is available from the Chief Financial Officer.

As well as external audit the Authority also belongs to Eastern Internal Audit Services which is a consortium made up of Breckland, Broadland, North Norfolk, South Holland and South Norfolk District Councils, Great Yarmouth Borough Council and the Broads Authority. Internal audits focus is to provide an opinion on adequacy and effectiveness of internal control systems, corporate governance arrangements and systems of risk management. The result of these form part of the Annual Governance Statement. Four service areas are reviewed every year and will always include Key Controls (Finance) and corporate governance. IT is reviewed every other year. Past audits have covered other areas such as external funding, planning, the Port Marine Safety Code and asset management. The results of internal and external audit are reported to the Audit and Risk Committee.

Membership

We have 21 members from diverse backgrounds who represent the public's interests in the Broads.

Nine are appointed by local councils, ten by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and two members are appointed by the Authority itself from the eight co-opted members of the Navigation Committee.

Terms of Appointments for both Defra and Navigation Members are for 4 years and a maximum of 10 years. The terms for Councils are usually 1 year, except Suffolk County Council and North Norfolk District Council; their terms are for four years.  Appointments are made by Councils after the May election.

You can find out more about the current Members of the Broads Authority and the committees they sit on using the following link: Meet our Members

Member Induction

All new Members undergo a comprehensive induction programme upon being appointed to the Broads Authority. This covers a spectrum of areas, including the history of the Authority, its purposes, and its functions. The induction programme also includes site visits.

Member Development

Following induction, you will have an opportunity to participate in workshops and site visits to help develop your skills and optimise your contribution to the Authority’s needs. To support the Broads Authority and individual members, Members complete a Members’ Review every year. Further details of all these aspects are set out in the Broads Authority Member Development Protocol.

Scheme of Members’ Allowances

The Scheme of Member Allowances is made in accordance with the provisions of the Local Authorities (Members Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003, as amended.

A basic allowance will be payable to all members of the Authority unless they choose not to receive the payment. This allowance is paid in recognition of the time and money devoted by you to Broads Authority duties.

You can claim for private mileage on Broads Authority business in accordance with approved HMRC mileage rates. Claims should be submitted quarterly to the Governance Team, by the 20th of the month for payment for the following month. Blank Expenses Claim Forms can be found using the following link: Member Expenses Claim Form

Members Privacy Statement

The Members Privacy Statement outlines how we use any information you give to us, and the ways in which we protect your privacy. It reflects the provisions of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

Governance

Collectively the Members of the Broads Authority are the prime decision makers through the meetings of the Broads Authority. Members are responsible for setting the strategy and policies of the Authority and monitoring their implementation.

The day-to-day decision making is delegated by Members to officers as set out in the Scheme of Powers delegated to Officers .

In order to ensure balance in this relationship and to ensure that the respective roles of Members and officers do not become blurred, the Broads Authority has a Protocol on Member and Officer Relations . This contains valuable guidance on Roles, Expectations and Working Relationships, as well as containing specific guidance to Members if there are problems.

Members should at all times conduct their relationship with officers in a manner which reflects the obligations of the Broads Authority under the Employment Rights Act 1996, the Equalities Act 2010 and other employment legislation.

The Authority’s Annual Governance Statement sets out how the Authority maintains high ethical standards in its governance.

Committees

The Audit and Risk Committee meets three times a year. It has responsibility for financial scrutiny, including a review of the Statement of Accounts and Annual Governance Statement, financial planning, audit and risk management. It takes a strategic view on whether the resources allocated to the Authority are used effectively. This is an advisory committee to the Authority and has a very limited decision making role.

The Authority’s functions as a local planning authority are carried out by its Planning Committee, with powers delegated to officers in accordance with nationally established legislation. The Planning Committee is a decision-making committee and normally meets 4-weekly. Planning decisions, whether made at Committee or through delegated powers, are published on the Authority’s website.

The Authority’s Navigation Committee of 13 members and co-opted members advises on the navigation function of the Authority. It is an advisory committee to the Broads Authority and does not make decisions. However, if the Broads Authority does not accept recommendations by the Navigation Committee it is required to give reasons.

The Broads Local Access Forum is a semi-independent body to advise the Authority on the improvement of public access to land within the Broads executive area.

The overall committee structure can be found here:

Committee Structure Chart

The Authority has appointed two Independent Persons who are regularly consulted to enable the Authority to achieve high ethical standards.

Core Values and Ethics

On 30th September 2016 the Broads Authority unanimously adopted its new Code of Conduct , which is based upon the Nolan Principles.

The Broads Authority has adopted a number of core values as a local ethics code. The core values apply both to staff and members. These are:

  • Commitment

We are committed to making a difference to the Broads for the benefit of all, and will have the courage of our convictions when faced with difficult issues.

  • Caring

We are considerate and respectful of each other, working together to provide the best service we can.

  • Open and Honest

We are open, honest and inclusive in our communication and in making decisions. We are approachable and available, reaching out to all groups.

  • Sustainable

We take the long-term view, are passionate about our environment and its ability to provide for a vibrant local economy and the well-being of local people

  • Exemplary

We strive for excellence in all we do. We are ambitious, innovative and lead by example.

It is considered that these core values reflect high ethical standards and include considerations which benefit individuals, the environment and include financial responsibility and integrity. They are clearly consistent with the Seven Principles of Public Life and draw from them.

Committee Meetings

The Committee Calendar is reviewed annually and approved at the March Broads Authority meeting. The current calendar is available using the following link: Committee Calendar

The annual committee cycle is set to meet key business deadlines; these are as follows:

Audit and Risk Committee

Navigation Committee

Broads Authority

July

Draft Statement of Accounts

Annual Governance Statement

Risk Register

Partnerships Review

Data Protection Officer Report

Feedback from Auditors

July

Annual General Meeting:

Appointment of Chair and Vice-Chair

Appointment of committees and representation on outside bodies

Statement of Accounts

Annual Governance Statement

Annual Reports (Waiver of Standing Orders, LAF etc.)

September

 

October

Tolls Setting

November

Tolls Setting

December

Draft Budget

Annual Investment Strategy

January

Draft Budget

February

Business Plan including Financial Strategy

& Strategic Priorities for following year

Budget for next Financial Year

Annual Investment Strategy

March

Approve Audit Plans – internal and external

April

Consultation on Appointment of 2 Members to the Broads Authority

Appointment of Chair and Vice-Chair

Annual Safety Audit

 

June

May

Appointment of 2 co-opted Members to BA from the Navigation Committee

Annual reports from the last financial year including:

Carry forwards of expenditure

Waivers to Standing Orders

Annual Safety Audit

Summary of Formal Complaints

Standing Items

Summary of Progress against previous decisions

Income and Expenditure and Forecast Outturn

Construction, Maintenance and Environment Work Plan Progress Update

Exercise of powers

Standing Items

Summary of progress against previous decisions

Progress on Strategic Priorities

Income and Expenditure and Forecast Outturn

Port Marine Safety Code items to raise

Agenda Papers

Members of the Authority have adopted electronic agenda at meetings. A full agenda will be sent to you for the relevant committee via email a week before the meeting. Agenda papers are also made available on our website.

Rules for the conduct of Broads Authority and committee meetings

Terms of Reference of Committees

The Broads Authority has specific rules for the conduct of its meetings. These are found in the Standing Orders . Much of the wording follows long-established rules and precedents used by local authorities, but it has also been updated to reflect changes specific to the Authority.

The Standing Orders cover matters such as the Order of Business, Motions, who speaks, when and for how long and rules of debate.

As well as being able to ask questions on Authority agenda business, Members are also entitled to ask questions on business before the meeting, providing they give 4 clear working days’ notice (Standing Order 6).

The Standing Orders have a recently-added section on the recording of meetings and use of hand-held electronic devices. The Broads Authority meetings are audio recorded and recordings are available to members of the public on request.

Generally, meetings of the Authority and of its committees are open for members of the public to attend. The exception to this is when discussions are taking place of confidential items.

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct will apply whenever Members act in their official capacity, including when conducting the business of the Broads Authority or acting, claiming to act, or give the impression they are acting in their official capacity.

The Code is not intended to apply to issues relating to Members’ purely private matters or to political opinions.

Regarding social media, the Broads Authority has adopted its Social Media Policy Guidance.

Openness and Transparency on Personal Interests

It is vital that Members are clear as to what interests they should register and declare. It is Members’ individual responsibility under the law to declare interests and to satisfy themselves as to which interests should be declared. The Members’ Code of Conduct has a section on Disclosable pecuniary Interests and other interests.

For official guidance on the circumstances when Members should register a Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and other interests, the following publication by the Department for Communities and Local Government is recommended:

Openness and transparency on personal interests: A Guide for Councillors

Probity in Planning and Code of Conduct for members of the Planning Committee

The Broads Authority has a separate Code of Conduct for members on its Planning Committee .  Amongst other guidance, it sets out rules on lobbying, pre-application matters and circumstances where Members are connected to someone making a planning application.

Members on the Planning Committee should also refer to the Local Government Association’s publication Probity in Planning: the role of Councillors and Officers .

Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection and confidentiality

There are legal provisions which apply to Members on Freedom of Information, Data protection and confidentiality. These are best dealt with as part of Member induction, due to their complexity.

The Authority has a duty to comply with requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) or the Environmental Impact Regulations, within 20 working days of a request being received. Generally, the rules are clear and are routinely dealt with by officers. Generally Members should follow the provisions in the Protocol on Member and Officer Relations in seeking information themselves from the Authority, rather than use FOIA. This also includes the procedure which should be followed if a Member considers that confidential information should be disclosed by them in the public interest.

Confidential matters brought to the meetings of the Authority are presented in the confidential section of papers provided to Members and known as “pink items” (as they are printed with a pink background). Such items are discussed at the part of meetings to which the press and public are excluded (and in respect of which there is no audio recording) and should be kept confidential.

The topics of this section are generally regarded as a specialist area and further information and guidance should be sought from the Authority’s Data Protection Officer.

Port Marine Safety Code

The Port Marine Safety Code sets out a national standard for every aspect of port marine safety. Its aim is to enhance safety for everyone who uses or works in the UK port marine environment.

The Code is applicable both to statutory harbour authorities and to other marine facilities which may not have statutory powers and duties. As the Broads Authority is a statutory harbour authority the Code applies.

The Code requires organisations to appoint ‘‘duty holders’’ who are accountable for their compliance with the Code and their performance in ensuring safe marine operations.

The role of duty holder is undertaken by Broads Authority members who are (both collectively and individually) publicly accountable for marine safety under the Code.

The Authority has a range of statutory and non-statutory duties and powers relating to marine operations. These duties include a duty of care to those using the harbour which means the Authority has an obligation to conserve and facilitate the safe use of the harbour as well as a duty of care against loss caused by the Authority’s negligence.

The Code requires a Safety Management System to be developed and documented to detail arrangements, policies and procedures of how these duties are to be discharged.

The Authority has appointed the Head of Safety Management as “designated person”, who is responsible for providing the Authority, the “Duty Holders”, with independent assurance that the Safety Management System is effective. The Designated Person has a direct access to the Authority members (the duty holders).

Regular reports of progress and audits are presented by the designated person to the Authority in order that the duty holders can be assured of compliance with the Code and the ongoing development of the safety management system continues.