Fareham firefighters are urging drivers to wave rather than beep in support of the strike after elderly neighbours complained of sleepless nights.

Red watch members have put up a new sign telling motorists to wave in the hope that 30 residents in sheltered accommodation at next door Western Court might get some peace and quiet.

It was Eileen Bailey, 76, who prompted them to take action after hand delivering a letter to the station on Sunday. Since the strike started on Friday morning she has only had ten hours sleep because of motorists honking their horns day and night.

"It's absolute bedlam. I'm feeling really bad. It's making my blood pressure worse. Yesterday morning my head was thumping so much I could not sleep at all.

"One woman was in tears, had her hands to her ears and told me she could not take much more.

"Surely the firefighters would not do this if their own parents were living next door?

Mrs Bailey, who has lived in her flat for the last 13 years, is so desperate for a good night's sleep that last night she stayed at a friend's house.

Neighbour Frances Joans, 80, lives in one of the flats overlooking the station.

She said: "It's continual beeping all day and night. I think please don't beep and then I hear one and then another and sometimes even little beeping tunes. It's maddening."

Both Mrs Bailey and Mrs Joans said they initially supported the firefighters but now their sympathy had disappeared.

Fareham's assistant divisional officer Mark Dawkins has handed out his mobile number to residents so he can be contacted 24 hours a day if there are any problems.

He has also pledged to lower the profile of the picket line at night and a bugle used by the firefighters on Saturday has been banned.

Mr Dawkins said: "We absolutely appreciate the public support we are receiving. It is fantastic and we need it to continue.

"But we would ask drivers to wave rather than sound their horns at night to give residents a break.

"They have complained to us in the nicest possible way about not getting any rest. We have always looked after them and they always look after us.

"They are lovely, lovely people and we were very upset to find them in such distress.

"We want the residents to get their rest and sleep and would ask drivers to co-operate."