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Safer And Cheaper To Keep Thames Resident Lock Keepers

Monday, December 1, 2014

GMB Call On Chair Of EA To Act On Report Showing That Resident Lock Keepers On Thames Are Not Only Safer And More Effective But Also Cheaper

In their obsessive desire to do away with resident Lock Keepers, Environment Agency managers have cooked the books, putting the safety of those who live by and use the River Thames at risk says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff at the Environment Agency (EA), is calling on Sir Philip Dilley, Chair of the Environment Agency to act on a new GMB report which shows conclusively that resident Lock Keepers are not only safer and more effective, but also cheaper on average.

GMB produced this report in response to the River Thames Lock House Study Group Report and the Environment Agency’s intention to rent out lock houses on the River Thames to private tenants. See notes to editors for executive summary of the GMB report. The full report is set out as a pdf at the foot of this press release at www.gmb.org.uk .

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer, said “The Environment Agency has pursued the intention to rent lock houses along the River Thames since 2011. GMB in response has suggested that whilst this would derive additional income for the Environment Agency, it would be a retrograde and foolhardy step not to have the current compliment of Residential Lock Keepers on site along the River Thames.

The primary reason for this is based on the overall picture of incidents along the River Thames and the amount of life saving and preventative intervention, especially against flooding, which takes place by Lock Keepers who are currently residential.

In their obsessive desire to do away with resident Lock Keepers, Environment Agency managers have cooked the books, putting the safety of those who live by and use the River Thames at risk.

By exposing this dangerous report, and presenting a cost-effective alternative, GMB calls on the new Chairman of the Environment Agency to act now to prevent avoidable flooding and all the misery and inconvenience associated with it.  GMB's report shows conclusively that resident Lock Keepers are not only safer and more effective, but also cheaper on average."

End

Contact:   Frank Minal 07713 079 930 or 01189 505 745  or Justin Bowden 07710 631351or GMB press office 07974 251 823 or 07921 289880.

Notes to editors

GMB Response to The Environment Agency’s Lock House Study Group Report Winter 2014/15  - The full report is set out as a pdf at the foot of this press release at www.gmb.org.uk .

Executive Summary

1.1. This report questions the River Thames Lock House Study Group Report and the Environment Agency’s intention to rent out nine lock houses on the River Thames to private tenants.

1.2. A number of concerns are raised in terms of safety issues, financial statements and questions around the viability of the study.

1.3. There are huge and far reaching implications regarding the safety of river users if further houses are rented out for private use. A reduction in the number of Residential Lock Keepers will inevitably lead to more dangerous situations and potential loss of life.

1.4. The proposed 2 hour response target to localised incidents, compared to the current time of 15 minutes, will significantly increase the risk of flooding. Residential Lock Keepers are on-hand to respond rapidly to rising water levels.

1.5. The Environment Agency’s claim of saving £32,000 in employment costs for each post are misleading and fails to reflect the true financial cost.

1.6. A comprehensive study of all 45 locks along the upper and lower Thames, rather than the very narrow study of 8 locks, is necessary to make a detailed and conclusive analysis.

1.7. Dr Downward, a water management expert at Kingston University, has stated that ‘the Lower Thames has been well managed this winter. In my experience there is no substitute for local knowledge and having an instinctive feel for how the river flows.’

 

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Additional Resources

GMB Response to The Environment Agency’s Lock House Study Group Report Winter 2014/15

download pdf1079Kb (pdf) - 01 December 2014

This report questions the River Thames Lock House Study Group Report and the Environment Agency’s intention to rent out nine lock houses on the River Thames to private tenants.