FIREFIGHTERS took to the streets of Brentwood to protest over pension reforms and an increase in their retirement age.

Members of the Fire Brigade Union and their supporters marched through the town as part of a 24-hour strike.

The march ended at the office of Brentwood MP Eric Pickles, whose Department for Communities and Local Government have refused to release ‘alternative pension proposals’ since March.

The strike ended at 9am today.

The government plans to raise the retirement age from 55 to 60, sparking fears amongst crews they could lose their job if they fail fitness tests which could then affect their pension.

Riccardo la Torre, chair of the FBU in Essex, said: “Mr Pickles likes to preach the gospel of ‘open and transparent government’ but then does the opposite himself.

“He’s refused to release alternative options to the DCLG’s unworkable, unaffordable and unfair proposals for our pensions.

“His own actuaries have confirmed the alternative proposals remain within the Treasury’s financial parameters, but he’s choosing to provoke more strikes rather than come clean and put them on the table.

“It just shows DCLG’s formal public consultation is really a sham.”

The final public consultation took place on May 23 where the DCLG revealed alternative plans for the pension cuts had been available since March 19, but they have since refused to release the details.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The government believes a solution can be reached, but not under the shadow of industrial action.

“By disrupting constructive discussions and an open consultation in this way the FBU has once again shown it is not serious about finding a resolution.”

FBU are due to strike again on Saturday, June 21.