8 March 2002

Inquiry team hits north

THE Lessons to be Learned inquiry team led by Iain Anderson faced an angry public when it visited the north-east on Tuesday (Mar 5).

Prof Anderson gave a sympathetic response to severe criticism about the way the foot-and-mouth crisis was handled in the region. He said the team was in discussion with European officials to examine EU regulations surrounding vaccination in the event of a future outbreak.

However, only about 80 people turned up to air their views at an evening meeting in Newcastle, where officials had expected over 200. A large part of the debate centred around the carcass disposal pits at Hemscott Hill, Tow Law and Widdrington.

However, Matt Ridley, a dairy farmer from Morpeth, said more delegation from official headquarters would have improved efficiency. "Local knowledge should have been used.

"Decision-making was too centralised. There were delays in slaughter and disposal and a number of mistakes were made. Our herd was not culled but a dirty official turned up on the farm thinking the livestock had been slaughtered."

Local council representatives were adamant the team should utilise information from Northum-berland County Councils own public inquiry report when conclusions were being drawn. The local inquiry recommended a state of national emergency should have been called at the outset.

The Lessons to be Learned inquiry team will visit Cumbria next week and Yorks in April. &#42