HAMPSHIRE firefighters say they will stage a demonstration outside the service's headquarters in Eastleigh if Fire and Rescue bosses don't take action over a New Forest firefighter who stood for the far right British National Party in the European elections.

The Daily Echo revealed that retained leading firefighter Ian Richard Johnson based at Brockenhurst was one of ten British National Party candidates standing in the south east.

Members of the Fire Brigade Union were due to hold an emergency meeting with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service's deputy chief fire officer John Bonney to discuss the tense situation.

They were due to talk over what steps could be taken to ease concerns which have caused friction between colleagues at the station where the leading firefighter has worked for 30 years.

But the meeting was cancelled at the last minute as Mr Bonney had other commitments.

Union chiefs say they have given Mr Bonney until next Friday to reply to their concerns outlined in a letter from the FBU to Hampshire Fire and Rescue bosses.

And they have threatened to stage demonstrations outside the firefighter's station in Brockenhurst and Hampshire Fire and Rescue's headquarters in Eastleigh unless Mr Johnson is dismissed from the brigade.

Hampshire FBU chairman Lud Ramsey said: "We are waiting a response from Mr Bonney. Mr Johnson is not a member of any union so we can't do anything on that score.

Mr Ramsey added: "The service is in a difficult position but they have to do something about it. The public will look at this and say I don't want to see an organisation with people like that working for them.

"If we don't like Mr Bonney's response, we will take matters into our own hands and will stage a demonstration either outside Brockenhurst or brigade HQ."

Mr Johnson, 53, an electrical contracting company boss from Fathers field in Brockenhurst, has defended his decision to stand for the BNP and told the Daily Echo it would not affect his work.

He said: "I certainly would not want to go against any of the fire service views. But I am entitled to vote for whoever I choose.

"I don't know what all the fuss is about. The BNP are not the bad apple that has been painted by everyone else."

For a full round-up of the results of the European elections, see Monday's Daily Echo.