Chief's bid to stop fire strike

PUBLISHED: 12:31 13 April 2006 | UPDATED: 14:38 12 May 2010

A FIRE chief this week made an 11th hour bid to prevent a firefighters strike. But firefighters across Herts have been issued with ballot papers to decide whether to strike over changes to the service which were approved last week. The changes mean that R

A FIRE chief this week made an 11th hour bid to prevent a firefighters strike.

But firefighters across Herts have been issued with ballot papers to decide whether to strike over changes to the service which were approved last week.

The changes mean that Royston Fire Station will see a cut in firefighters and the use of retained firefighters at weekends.

The Fire Brigades Union has said it has had no alternative but to ballot its 700 members over strike action.

A spokesman for Royston Fire Station said: "Ballot papers have been sent out and we will be receiving them shortly.

"Only then will a decision be made on whether we take action or not."

It is believed the cut to firefighters at Royston will save Herts County Council £50,000 a year.

Meanwhile, Herts Chief Fire Officer Roy Wilsher has appealed to all firefighters to think carefully before deciding how they vote.

Mr Wilsher said: "A strike will put the community at risk. This sort of action should only take place as a last resort.

"They are damaging to the communities we serve, and to the reputation of the service and its staff."

He hopes his appeal will make firefighters consider all the implications that industrial action could cause, and that they will think about the consequences involved.

"It's important that everyone uses the vote," he said.

Although Mr Wilsher supports modernisation plans, he said he sympathised with the firefighters' cause.

He added: "I understand their concerns. But I hope we can avoid industrial action because we all have the same aim - to keep Hertfordshire safe."

Mr Wilsher was sent a four-page document from firefighters last week, outlining concerns about the county council's proposals in its community safety plan.

The cuts were opposed by Royston's county councillor Doug Drake and county councillor Tony Hunter, who represents the North Herts Rural division, during a debate at County Hall two weeks ago.

- More than 6,000 people signed a protest petition opposing the cuts in a campaign that was led by veteran campaigner Terry Hutt.

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