Following our story earlier this week, Michael Shefras joint chair of the Lock House Study Group representing the Thames User Group (Navigation) commented: “The arguments are complex with the working group analysed every segment of the operation.  Compromises on both sides had to be made to endeavour to deliver a balanced report.  The final conclusions and recommendations should be taken as a whole and not reliant on extracts which may not stand on their own.

"The report published shows inevitability that on a pure financial basis it might appear it makes sense to lease houses BUT the conclusion in the report at every level advises that it does not make sense to lease the houses.”

He continued,  “However I believe that it is inescapable that we must build the lock-keeper’s role to be more important in the management of the river, up and down river from their locks. There may have to be different work practices at the same time to ensure their longevity on the lock side.   The morale and enthusiasm of the lock staff is vital in these troubled financial times.”

One of the members of the study group, Louis Jankel, representing the National Association of Boat Owners, quit in protest earlier this year.

This week he issued a statement saying: “[I feel] the data supplied was specifically slanted to support the EA stance. The figures would not pass any perusal by a forensic accountant. That the EA consider they can publish that there are fewer accidents at non-residential locks than residential locks does not mention that the locks without residents are manned an average of 7 hours a day over six months while residential locks have 24/365 cover.

“It was my view that TUGn has been far too amenable and cosy with the EA. We did not hold the EA to account and let them get away with ‘murder’ on so many fronts.

“The ‘joint’ report is the final proof that TUGn is a toothless tiger that has effectively sanctioned the policy of letting residential lock cottages.

“The EA will continue to manage the staffing of the four non-residential lock cottages to underline their proposed policy. The inadequacy of the figures will continue without a forensic accountant's perusal.    

“I am certain users want residential lock keepers. I am certain riparian residents want residential lock keepers."


Story dated


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