Hopes of end to firefighters' dispute

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The Independent Online
Hopes of an end to a long-running firefighters' dispute rose last night after several hours of peace talks. Leaders of the Fire Brigades' Union met officials from Essex County Council to try to find a breakthrough to a row over pounds 1.5m worth of spending cuts. The union called off a planned 24-hour strike because of the talks.

A joint statement by the council and the union said: "Representatives from Essex County Council and the Fire Brigades Union have agreed to put a proposed settlement to the council and the union for consideration." No details of the proposed settlement were released, but the authority had been expected to offer to reduce the spending cuts in a bid to resolve the dispute.