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Out of the mouths of babes (and DEFRA "customer contact" officers)

Civil servants at DEFRA, the Government department responsible for the waterways, have been working overtime responding to boaters' letters about the impending sell-off of Thames lock-houses.

The responses are, of course, all the same, which is largely what you'd expect. There's just one problem with them - see if you can spot it in these excerpts.

Dear [boater],  

Lock Houses
Thank you for your e-mail of 23 May to Hillary Benn. It has been passed to Defra and I have been asked to reply.
British Waterways own 57 houses and have 45 lock sites and some of the houses are not located on the lockside. They have reviewed the operational need for the lock houses, including the impact on boating, water level management and flood risk...

British Waterways will still provide the same standard of service in managing weirs and water levels that are an important part of flood risk management on the Thames...

British Waterways have had one-to-one discussions with all of those affected and are working out transition plans for the next five years...

This is part of a modernisation of the service on the river where they will be changing other ways of working. British Waterways will increase the number of seasonal lock staff when they are most needed in the summer and reduce permanent staff numbers while maintaining the levels of service needed in winter..

British Waterways are changing the way that they work to operate more efficiently... The sale of the lock houses will help them raise income which will be invested in further improvements to their service...

Or do they know something we don't?

Monday 2 June  | Richard Fairhurst  | 3.48pm, Monday 2 June 2008

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