Euro F&M team not holding public talks in Cumbria!


Cumberland News 5th April 2002


"This is another kick in the teeth for Cumbria." says Nick Green. "An absolute disgrace! Cumbria had over 40% of all "confirmed" cases and around 5.5 million animals slaughtered (at least). Rural businesses were wrecked and many lives ruined! We deserve more than this. "



A 40 strong team from the Euro inquiry into foot and mouth will hold NO public meetings during a four-day visit to the county.

Members of the public wish-ing to air their views will have to travel to Gretna if they want to be heard.

Instead the delegation will visit individual farmers and have lunch at Longtown mart in their bid to get to the bottom of the outbreak.

They will also go to the mass carcass burial site at Great Orton and hold dinner and breakfast meetings at the Cas-tle Green Hotel in Kendal.

Details of the visit, from April 17 to 20, were revealed at a meeting of Cumbria County Council's cabinet this week.

Aspatria farmer Nick Fish said: "Cumbria should be top of the list for a public meeting because we had a very high percentage of cases.

"It would be a lot more appropriate to hold a public meeting here rather than in Gretna.

"We need answers. We need to know where the disease came from and why it carried on. I think the decision to hold the meeting in Gretna will anger a lot of people."

Council leader Rex Toft said up to 40 members could make the trip. "The delegation is made up of seven non-British members, six permanent British members and four sub-stitute members," he said.

"There are around 25 others involved in the visit including interpreters.

"We are very pleased that the European Parliament are tak-ing an interest in the Cumbrian perspective."

The team are due to fly in to Newcastle airport on April 17.

They will spend the following day at Longtown mart speaking to farmers and having lunch. At 3pm they will hold the pub-lic meeting in Gretna.

Auctioneer Haig Murray from Longtown mart said: "They've got to hear what peo-ple have to say. The public meeting should really be in Cumbria."

Nick Utting, Cumbria's NFU secretary, said: "Bearing in mind that Cumbria was the worst hit county in the country I'm disappointed to hear that they're not holding a meeting here. I presume the meeting is being held in Gretna so they don't have to hold two public meetings.

"I hope the venue is large because I am sure Cumbrian farmers will want to air their views. The Euro inquiry is investigating various aspects including the way Defra han. dled the crisis and that's very important."

They will also go to Alistair Wannop's farm at Linstock Cas tle to take further evidence.

On the Friday the delegation will spend time in Northumbria before visiting Great Orton and then Carlisle.

They will then leave for din-ner in Kendal with various invited guests.

There will be another meet-ing in the morning before the team fly out from Manchester.

The European Parliament inquiry, which is running alongside three Government inquiries, aims to find out how the outbreak was handled.

It also wants to find out which sectors were worst hit and how animals were treated during the crisis.

Chris Davies MEP said: "I would certainly like to see them hold a public meeting in Cumbria but given its rural iso-lation most people are used to getting into private vehicles and driving a few miles."

A separate local inquiry for Cumbria, headed by top Scot-tish scientist Professor Phil Thomas, was announced last month.