Councillor should help solve firefighers' dispute

Sir – Firefighters in Oxfordshire were on strike again over the weekend of December 13-14 over retirement ages and pensions.

When is the Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for the fire and rescue service, Louise Chapman, going to do something about it?

No one wants 59-year-old firefighters climbing ladders, or unfit older firefighters sacked without any pension.

The firemen and women are already paying much more in pension contributions but will lose five per cent of their pension for every year they retire short of 60.

Ms Chapman is well-connected and a word of support from her could make all the difference.

Not only is her father, Barry Norton, the leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, he is also the Conservative Party’s constituency agent for Witney MP and Prime Minister David Cameron. A word from Louise in the PM’s ear could be key.

No firefighter likes going on strike but the coalition Government is stubbornly refusing to negotiate. Firefighters put their lives on the line for the public every day.

They deserve a proper pension and should not be forced to work on until they are 60 or lose pension.

So why has Ms Chapman refused to write to the Government from the county council urging a settlement of this damaging dispute?

Labour wants a settlement and we believe the firefighters have a just cause.

John Tanner (Labour councillor), county council shadow cabinet member for the fire service, county councillor for Isis division, Oxford city councillor for Littlemore

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