Official insist Queen will visit
OFFICIALS preparing for The Queen's visit to Suffolk next week today insisted that it would go ahead despite a one-day strike by council workers.But union members were not so sure things would be able to go ahead so smoothly – and union officials were planning urgent talks with council bosses.
By Paul Geater
OFFICIALS preparing for The Queen's visit to Suffolk next week today insisted that it would go ahead despite a one-day strike by council workers.
But union members were not so sure things would be able to go ahead so smoothly – and union officials were planning urgent talks with council bosses.
The official line from Suffolk County Council and Buckingham Palace is that the visit will go ahead as planned on July 17.
But that is the day that public services union UNISON has called its members out on a one-day strike in support of a six per cent pay claim.
Local union members are sceptical that visit can go ahead as planned without the participation of local authority workers.
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The visit is being organised by the Palace with support from the county council, Ipswich Council, Mid Suffolk Council, and St Edmundsbury Council.
Officers at all these local authorities are due to take part in the one-day strike – when they should be fulfilling vital roles during the visit.
Suffolk county council executive committee member Ray Nowak remained confident, saying: "We are confident that the Queen's visit due on 17 July will go ahead as planned.
"We will be having early talks with UNISON to discuss the local implications of this national decision."
But Mr Nowak's confidence was not shared by rank and file UNISON members.
"I don't know exactly what will happen, but it is difficult to see the visit going ahead exactly as planned if council staff are on strike," one union member said.
The staff are currently making preparations for the visit, and on the day will have vital security roles as the Royal couple visit Ipswich Waterfront, Stowmarket town centre, and the heart of Bury St. Edmunds.
Suffolk County Council's head of communications, Rachel Stopard, was also confident that the visit would go ahead with no changes that the public would notice.
"We may have to make a few changes behind the scenes, but the visit itself will not be altered.
"We would not want people who are looking forward to the visit to worry that it might not happen," she said.
Buckingham Palace officials remained confident the visit would go ahead.
UNISON is involved in a national dispute with local authorities across England and Wales – the negotiations are being handled by the union's national negotiators and senior members of the Local Government Association.
See page 3 to get tickets for the planned visit.