Ten lock houses to be sold and 12 to be rented to third parties in EA drive for efficiency

Twenty-two of the 57 lock houses on the Thames are to be sold or let to third parties, the Environment Agency revealed today.

Of those, 10 will be sold, and 12 will be rented out after they were “identified as not being needed for operational reasons” by the EA.

The sell-off will take place over the next five years, as first revealed by MBM last week .

All lockkeepers affected by the plan have now been informed, the EA said.

Eileen McKeever, the EA’s Thames waterways manager, said: “We need to operate the river as efficiently as we can, making sure we are using public money wisely. We haven’t modernised this aspect of our work for a very long time and as part of wider review we have looked at whether we need all 57 lockhouses. The conclusion is that we do not need to keep them all.

“We will not be moving anyone out of a house until they have another suitable house to go to – we will not be making people homeless. But the fact is that we already manage the river with a significant number of our lock staff not living in EA property.

“Lockkeeper’s houses were originally provided when working hours were longer and before telephones and cars made communications and getting around as easy as they are today.

“But, as a public organisation, we need to justify the operational need for every property we wish to keep.”

The EA also denied that the sell-off would adversely affect navigation or flood control on the Thames.

McKeever said: “We will still man locks to assist boaters with passage through the locks. In fact, we plan to have more staff on duty during the busiest times throughout the summer.

“And there will be no impact on how we manage flood risk – we will continue to operate weirs and manage water levels throughout the year as normal.”

Lock houses to be sold:

Laburnam Rd, Oxford*
Boulters Gardens, Maidenhead*
Ray Mill Rd, Maidenhead*
Bell Weir, Staines
Penton Hook, Staines*
Thames Side, Chertsey*
Garth House, Rushey* ^
Sunbury No 2*
Hailey Wood Farm Cottage*
Glade Rd, Marlow*

Lock houses to be rented to third parties:

Chalmore Hole Cottage, Wallingford*
Buscot*
Cookham
Godstow
Days Lock, Little Wittenham*
Shifford
Sandford, Oxford
Culham
Sunbury No 1
St. Johns No 2^
Blakes, Reading^
Old Windsor**

* Not on the lockside

^ Second of two houses on site