Firefighters wait for ballot result

PUBLISHED: 11:44 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 14:40 12 May 2010

THE result of a ballot on whether firefighters will take strike action will be announced early next month. Ballot papers have been sent to 700 members of the Fire Brigades Union in Hertfordshire. The dispute is over cuts – which include the loss of two po

THE result of a ballot on whether firefighters will take strike action will be announced early next month.

Ballot papers have been sent to 700 members of the Fire Brigades Union in Hertfordshire.

The dispute is over cuts - which include the loss of two positions at Royston Fire Station and a change of structure - approved by Herts County Council.

The changes at Royston are estimated to save £50,000.

Royston firefighter and Herts FBU chairman Ben Read said: "After the ballot papers were issued last week, it will take three weeks for the results to come in."

The result of the ballot will be on May 2.

If strike action is decided, seven days' notice will be issued before it will begin.

Meanwhile, veteran campaigner Terry Hutt will be raising the issue when he meets Royston's MP Oliver Heald and South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley at the House of Commons today (Thursday).

Mr Hutt, who organised a protest petition signed by more than 6,000 people, said: "I am at the Commons to discuss a number of local concerns.

"One of the main issues is the situation at Royston Fire Station.

"Like so many, I am opposed to the cuts and hope that they can be overturned."

Yesterday (Wednesday) Herts chief fire officer Roy Wilsher once condemned the strike procedures.

He said that he that he was surprised the union had balloted members for industrial action before it had spoken to the fire service, and warned that the FBU's push for a strike was dangerous and ultimately put the community at risk.

"Not one of Hertfordshire's 566 full time firefighters will lose their jobs and yet the union is balloting for a strike," he said.

Cllr David Lloyd, executive member for community safety, said the county council would still stand by its decision to approve a community safety plan, and hoped the FBU will take part in constructive talks.

He said: "I am urging the union to talk to us so we can try to find a resolution to this situation.

"Nobody wants to see our fire cover compromised, but it would be during a strike.

"The only way forward for both the authority and the firefighters is for honest and open discussions.

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