Oh now here’s an emotive issue. Londonist charged at this story, all spluttering indignation…and then promptly changed our minds.
It’s about Thames lock-keepers and their chi-chi little cottages. The Environment Agency is to sell off 10 of them, and let out 12 others: all in all a third of their 57 Thames-side properties are to be turned into revenue.
There is much hand-wringing, especially from Unison. They rightly point out that the lock-keeper’s wage is a lowly affair at £16,000.00 per annum, and that these tithe cottages are an essential part of the package. Londonist, thinking typical public thoughts, immediately worried for the safety connotations of such a move, followed by the threat to tradition. But neither of these are to be compromised: the lock-keepers will still be lock-keeping, and those quaint rose-covered photo opportunities aren’t going anywhere either. Modern technology and communications mean that there is no need for someone to be on site at all times.
Nor is anyone to be made jobless or homeless: the EA will wait until their staff are happily re-housed (and presumably increase their wages to assist with this: if not, we reserve the right to change our minds again on this issue).
Not all streamlining modernisation is bad, and assuming the EA are as fluffy as they make out, and promise to pump the extra funds into their flood warning reservoir, then this is probably all for the best.
Bray lock from chalkie colour circles’ flickr stream.