The Environment Agency has cancelled its plan to sell off some of its lock or weir keeper houses and rent out others. This follows a wave of protests and a petition on the 10 Downing Street website.
In June the Environment Minister Phil Woolas and local MPs met with EA and it was agreed to put the proposals on hold until it has completed "a full review of waterways staff roles and responsibilities, and terms and conditions".
As a result of this review, EA has pledged to ensure that there at resident keepers at all 45 locks and major weirs on the Thames. EA's Howard Davidson said "issues such as flood risk and response to incidents outside normal working hours have been key to our considerations."
EA will still sell five houses that are away from the river, but only after the staff living there have been moved to properties close to locks.
The new proposals, which have to be discussed with staff and unions, have already been welcomed by campaigners and supporters. Cookham lock keeper's wife Kim Benge, who has played a key part in the campaign, said "We are thrilled with the news today. Much work still needs to be done but we are truly delighted with this outcome. The River Thames is a safer place today because of it."
MP Martin Salter, who had compiled a file of incidents at locks and weirs where intervention of resident lock-keepers had saved lives or prevented serious injuries, described it as "fantastic news for everybody who cares about the future of the Thames." He added: "I have no doubt that the weight of public opinion coupled with strong Parliamentary pressure were crucial."
Michael Shefras of Thames User Group (Navigation) said: "We were all delighted to be informed that the proposed plan to sell some of the Lock Cottages has been completely cancelled and that resident Lock Keepers will continue to live in the Lock Cottages. Many Thames organisations worked tirelessly opposing the plan. SOW will continue to work with the Thames User Group (Navigation) who are to continue consultations with the Thames Waterways Staff as they progress the Better Ways of Working process to ensure proper service to all who cruise the Thames."