The GMB union has launched a strong protest to the Environment Agency chairman over a report on the future of resident lock- and weir-keepers on the Thames

It says the evidence in support of employing a resident keeper at every site is overwhelming and the fact that "none of this evidence is contained within the flawed report cannot be an oversight".

The report from the River Thames Lock House Study Group consisting of Environment Agency managers and representatives of river users has been sent to Lord Smith. It was ordered after protests following EA plans to cut the number of resident staff and rent out lock houses. The report has yet to be published.

Frank Minal, GMB Regional Officer, says in a letter “GMB represents every single residential lock and weir keeper bar one and we have taken the unusual step of writing to you. This is because the report you will receive is, in the opinion of the union and our members, flawed and we do not recognise it or its findings. Despite our repeated requests, GMB was not invited to be part of the “Study Group” and our expertise and opinion excluded.

"We call on you to instruct Environment Agency officers to withdraw their report in favour of a new study, to be carried out jointly with the Union, to arrive at a definitive, empirical based assessment of the value or otherwise of residential lock and weir keepers, to flood defence, drought, safety and all other matters relating to the EA’s responsibilities on the River Thames.

"You have the right to expect to receive a detailed report which accurately reflected the costs and benefits of reducing the number of resident lock and weir keepers and renting out lock cottages. The report is neither accurate nor detailed and is not fit for the purpose intended.

"The evidence in support of employing a resident keeper at every site is overwhelming. The fact that none of this evidence is contained within the report cannot be an oversight.”

See the GMB letter in full HERE

Story dated June 23rd 2014


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