“The presence of lock-keepers’ homes along the River Thames has made a huge contribution to improving safety and reducing crime, vandalism and antisocial behaviour along the riverside” says Reading West MP Martin Salter.
Writing in Thames Guardian, the journal of the River Thames Society, the MP backs the lock-keepers’ campaign to able to contue living in their lock cottages. The Environment Agency has announced plans to sell or rent 22 of the Thames’ 57 lock cottages.
Mr Salter, who represents a riverside constituency, lists the lock-keeper’s important duties as he sees them:
“* Ensuring safe passage of vessels – miscalculation in the packing of locks can result in injury and/or damage to property.
* Monitoring weir and water levels – the constant observation of water levels at the lock sites ensures that any necessary adjustment to the weirs can be undertaken with the minimum of time delays to avoid flooding.
* Providing information – the lock-keeper is the source of information for both the boating and general public.
* Checking licences – the appropriate licence, of which there are many, must be issued to any unlicensed craft.”
Many walkers having found lock-keepers helpful with advice, information and even a cup of tea will agree with Mr Salter.
The new chairman of the Agency is former cabinet minister Chris Smith.