Bovingdon Battle!

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Campaigners fighting against cuts to the Herts fire service outside Radlett fire station in Ocober
Campaigners fighting against cuts to the Herts fire service outside Radlett fire station in Ocober

HERTFORDSHIRE fire crews are appalled at the way two community action groups in Bovingdon and Radlett are being treated by local politicians over the closure of their local fire stations.

The Fire Brigades Union says it has seen the work of these two groups of local taxpayers and has been astounded by the quality of the work.

Tony Smith – Herts FBU Secretary said, ‘Here is an example of two local communities coming together to fight for a public service that they want so dearly.

‘The quality of the work these people have undertaken on a voluntary basis has been astonishing.

‘Both groups have produced more than adequate evidence for keeping their local fire stations open’.

The action group SOFAR met with politicians to be told that the leader of the Council, David Beatty, has taken a personal decision to close Radlett Fire Station because Radlett local councillor Martin Saunders did not forward the business case to keep the station open.

‘I am appalled at how Hertfordshire County Councillors are treating the people they were elected to serve,’ said Tony Smith.

‘The truth of the matter is that, as stated on many occasions by the FBU and others, closing these stations is wrong. These politicians are fully aware of the right thing to do, how can thousands of local residents all be wrong?’

The FBU are now calling for an independent review of the closures, where all parties can be allowed to present their full business cases to an independent and qualified panel.

Tony Smith said, ‘When the political system begins to fail like this, it is time to review it. All we are asking is that someone comes in and takes an independent look at all the evidence. They have already closed the stations, what do Herts County Council have to lose?’

The Hertfordshire Branch of the Fire Brigades Union has opposed the closure of Radlett and Bovingdon Fire Stations since proposals were announced in 2005. Strike action by local fire crews averted many of the proposed cuts; the union continues to fight these last two.

• Second news story

GATE GOURMET TRIBUNAL JUDGEMENT

The Reading Employment Tribunal has controversially ruled that the reactions of Gate Gourmet workers to an extreme management provocation constituted an illegal strike action.

On the morning of August 10th 2005 the employer, without prior union agreement, brought in over 100 seasonal workers into the plant, at the same time as it was demanding almost 700 redundancies. There were no leading shop stewards on the site at the time of the provocation.

Also present on the site were 12 professional bodyguards, armed riot police and a group of employees of a security company that advertised its services in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Workers were then sacked by megaphone in the canteen where they had been kept for a number of hours.

Over 100 locked-out workers have tribunal cases against Gate Gourmet for wrongful dismissal.