No riverside lock houses will now be disposed of, and no lock-keepers will be made redundant

The Environment Agency has performed a spectacular U-turn over plans to sell off or rent out a third of all lock houses on the Thames.

After a fierce backlash from boaters, lock-keepers and MPs, the EA said today that no riverside lock houses would be disposed of, and no lock-keepers would be made redundant or homeless.

Howard Davidson, regional director of the EA, said: “We have listened carefully to staff, MPs, river users and those who live in the flood plain, who all raised objections to our original proposals announced earlier this year.

“As a result, we have reached the conclusion that keeping a resident lock and weir keeper at each of our 45 sites along the Thames is the sensible way forward to enhance how we manage the river as safely and efficiently as possible.”

The EA said is still plans to sell five off-site houses when they become available. The families in these houses will be moved into properties at or adjacent to a lock site in due course.

Save Our Service, a campaign set up in opposition to the proposed sell-off, welcomed the news.

“The EA announcement regarding the sale/rent of the lock houses is fantastic, and very welcome news,” it said.

“Without the overwhelming public opinion and support the lock staff have received, the River Thames would have become a far less safe place to be.”