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Fire union to fight General Election

PUBLISHED: 05:42 28 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

MEMBERS of the Fire Brigades Union in Suffolk are preparing to field an independent parliamentary candidate to stand against Ipswich MP Chris Mole at the next general election.

MEMBERS of the Fire Brigades Union in Suffolk are preparing to field an independent parliamentary candidate to stand against Ipswich MP Chris Mole at the next general election.

They said they are fed up at what they perceive to be the Government's lack of support for public service workers and its inability to improve public services.

The news comes on the day that the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have organised further industrial action in their bitter dispute over pay.

Firefighters across the country walked out at 9am this morning for a 48-hour strike in the latest round in their battle to get more money.

Mr Mole was singled out for fierce criticism by secretary of Suffolk FBU Paul Woolstenholmes, who branded the MP as a "class traitor" who does not do enough to help ordinary people living in his constituency.

"Mr Mole is a class traitor. He's meant to be labour but he does nothing," said Mr Woolstenholmes.

Suffolk FBU will put forward a candidate from among their members to stand as an Independent on a "public services ticket", according to Mr Woolstenholmes.

He added: "We will be fielding a candidate on the ticket of public services for the public. It will be based around making sure that taxes, both nationally and locally, pay for the services that people want.

"People we have spoken to on the picket lines say they are fed up because they are paying more money but the public services are not getting any better."

Although he does not believe that anyone standing from the FBU will be elected, Mr Woolstenholmes hopes the exercise will "shave off a few votes" from Mr Mole.

The current Ipswich MP was elected to parliament in November 2001 after the death of Jamie Cann.

Mr Mole shrugged off the criticisms from the Suffolk FBU and described their plans to stand against him as an "overreaction."

He said: "I am surprised and I see it as a bit of an overreaction. Clearly the Government has to deal with any dispute on a fair and equal basis and this is what they are trying to do with the firefighters."

He defended his and the Government's record over public services and denied that they are not improving things.

"That is clearly not the case when you look at the investment that the Government are making in education and the health service," Mr Mole added.

"In the history of the NHS there has never been the level of investment that us going to put in over the next three years. There will be something like a 30% increase in the level of expenditure."

Mr Mole is says he is "not worried" about his personal perception within his own constituency.

He said: "The general sense I have is that people see me fighting for the new intensive care unit at Ipswich Hospital, working with local agencies to get regeneration of the Wet Dock and supporting bids for Ipswich's third park-and-ride.

"The things that are important for hard working families in Ipswich are improved health service, better education opportunities and better public transport.

"The Government are clearly addressing these sorts of things and are making a difference to people's quality of life."

Mr Mole added that he is disappointed that the FBU has gone on strike again.

"I have no fundamental problem with any group of employees using strikes when there is no other way they can make their case heard," he said.

"What I find particularly difficult with the FBU is that they have been given an opportunity to engage with the Bain Review but they have declined to do so."

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