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The Jubilee River story - EA news release about lock keepers cottages (April 2008)
The Environment Agency will sell ten of its 57 lockhouses, it announced today.
Of those remaining, a further 12 will be rented out after they were identified as not being needed for operational reasons.
The plans, which have been drawn up as part of an efficiency review, will reduce the amount of property the Environment Agency has to maintain.
Eileen McKeever, Thames Waterways Manager at the Environment Agency said: We need to operate the river as efficiently as we can, making sure we are using public money wisely. We havent modernised this aspect of our work for a very long time and as part of a wider review we have looked at whether we need all 57 lockhouses. The conclusion is that we do not need to keep them all.
We will not be moving anyone out of a house until they have another suitable house to go to and we will not be making people homeless or redundant. But the fact is that we already manage the river with a significant number of our lock staff not living in Environment Agency properties.
Lockkeepers houses were originally provided when working hours were longer and before telephones and cars made communications and getting around as easy as they are today.
But, as a public organisation, we need to justify the operational need for every property we wish to keep.
We will still man locks to assist boaters with passage through the locks. In fact, we plan to have more staff on duty during the busiest times throughout the summer.
And there will be no impact on how we manage flood risk - we will continue to operate weirs and manage water levels throughout the year as normal.
In the past year the Environment Agency has spent £6.5m on improving the Thames as a waterway for people to enjoy. This includes increasing the number of automated locks and refurbishment and enhancement projects at various locks along the Thames.
Lockhouse residents affected by the changes have been informed of these plans, and the Environment Agency will work with them over the coming months and years to ensure that they have another suitable house to go to.
Eileen McKeever added: We are aware that this is a very emotive issue for lockkeepers and their families, but we have been running the river in the same manner for 40 or 50 years, and we need to modernise our working practices. We have kept staff well informed of the work in progress and will continue to do so to help them through these changes.
The lockhouses identified as suitable for sale are:
Laburnam Rd, Oxford *
Boulters Gardens, Maidenhead *
Ray Mill Rd, Maidenhead *
Bell Weir, Staines
Penton Hook, Staines *
Thames Side, Chertsey *
Garth House, Rushey * +
Sunbury No. 2 *
Hailey Wood Farm Cottage *
Glade Rd, Marlow *
To retain and rent to 3rd parties:
Chalmore Hole Cottage, Wallingford *
Days Lock, Little Wittenham*
Sunbury No. 1
St. Johns No.2 +
Blakes, Reading +
Old Windsor +
* Not on the lockside
+ second of two houses on site.
Link to lock keepers page
25/4/08 - EA News release about lock keepers' cottages