Kent

Kent fire crews refrain from strike amid flooding

Flooding in Maidstone
Image caption The conditions have caused major disruption on the roads in Maidstone

Firefighters decided not to take part in a strike on Christmas Eve after flooding in Kent was declared a "major incident".

Crews had been due to go on strike from 19:00 to 00:00 GMT but their union said its members had been recalled.

Kent fire service dealt with a spate of incidents, including rescuing drivers stuck in flood water.

The Environment Agency said the Medway had continued to rise and flood risks would continue for three days.

Kent Police said the River Medway had flooded areas from Tonbridge to Allington, with Mereworth and Yalding badly affected.

A statement from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said firefighters in Kent and Surrey had been recalled from a planned strike over pensions under the terms of a national agreement.

The FBU said incidents in Kent were likely to include large-scale evacuations and a large number of rescues.

General secretary Matt Wrack said: "Firefighters in Surrey, Kent and across the country are doing tremendous job in very difficult conditions, and where safety is significantly threatened have set aside their differences with government to put the public first."

The Environment Agency issued dozens of flood warnings for the South East.

After heavy rain and strong winds on Monday, more than 28,000 properties in Kent were left without electricity.

UK Power Networks said trees, branches and debris had caused extensive damage to power lines.

Storms also caused significant problems on the roads as the QEII bridge at Dartford and the Sheppey Crossing were closed, part of the M25 was flooded and a lorry and five cars crashed after a large tree fell across three lanes of the M20.

Southeastern trains said it had experienced major disruption through out the day.

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