Thames Path: Threat to lock-keeper jobs

Increasing concern all along the Thames about the Environment Agency plans to reduce the number lock and weir-keepers is being highlighted this morning with a demonstration in central London.

Environment Agency and GMB union officials are holding joint talks on staffing levels.

The GMB is to stress the important work of Richard Hawkins, resident lock and weir-keeper at Abingdon, who rescued someone in the river at 7.30am last Saturday as the storm subsided.

The lock-keeper then steered a narrow boat, which had come adrift from its mooring by the ferocity of the current, across the river and secured the vessel safely.

Earlier this month the same lock-keeper had rescued a young boy who slipped into the floods and was in danger of being swept into the weir.

The EA has pursued a plan which would see more keepers’ cottages becoming high rent holiday homes.

This is a huge change in policy since it is the on-site lock-keepers who know and watch the river and have been able to control the flow using the weir alongside the locks.

No flooding is not news but it allows the river to be used and enjoyed. Employing lock-keepers is cheaper than cleaning up after annual floods.

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