8 May 2001
Rural business in Whitehall demo

By FWi staff

OWNERS of small rural businesses affected by foot-and-mouth plan to demonstrate outside parliament to show their disgust a 24 million aid package.

Environment minister Michael Meacher announced that the government was setting up a recovery fund to help businesses worst affected on Monday (7 May).

The fund will offer about 10,000 small- and medium-sized firms up to 15,000 in grants. Aid will also be available to help meet interest on borrowings.

Mr Meacher said: “Small tourism and other country businesses are essential to the health of the rural economy.

“We want to ensure that viable businesses can survive.”

But rural business owners dismissed the package, claiming they need cash compensation, not grants for marketing and IT investment, reports The Guardian.

Judy Carless, who runs a restaurant in Exmoor, told the paper: “This is an absolute waste of time. It is going to have to be cash aid.

“I dont see how else he can do it. We have been totally forgotten.”

More optimistically, the newspaper also reports that fine weather over the Bank Holiday lured plenty of visitors to countryside attractions.

Officials from Snowdonia declared themselves delighted with the public response after they took a decision to open four footpaths, reports the paper.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that the grouse season will not open on the traditional date of 12 August in some areas of England and Scotland.

The “glorious twelfth” will be delayed in parts of the Pennines, southern Scotland and County Durham, according to the paper.

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