Keep rivers ship-shape

Sir – The response of the Environment Agency to my old friend, Roy Partridge, of Cassington Mill, beggars belief.

Spokesman Barry Russell insists “flood protection schemes are a better use of public money than dredging, which has only short-term benefits”.

Does that mean in future years holidaymakers who invest in a Thames cruise will have to fork out for a rip saw and a steam shovel to clear any fallen trees and reed banks they encounter in the river?

Mr Russell maintains: “Dredging on a long-term basis is very expensive... In years gone by the budget and manpower we had was very different and we didn’t have the same understanding of flood risks.”

Does that mean the Thames Conservancy engineers I encountered on my way from Newspaper House, Osney Mead, to the Waterman’s Arms for my lunchtime pint, didn’t know what they were doing and were wasting their time and our money ?

If the Environment Agency were to spend a little less time poring over their cost-cutting manual and a little more maintaining the Thames and its tributaries, Roy Partridge and the rest of us would have a great deal less to worry about.

Don Chapman, Newland Street, Eynsham

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