Calling all councils – back us, please

5 October 2001




Calling all councils – back us, please

By Mike Stones

COUNTY and borough councils across the country are being urged to follow the lead of Swindon Borough Council in pressing for a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The council is writing to DEFRA minister Margaret Beckett to request a public inquiry and a meeting with one of her ministers after a resolution incorporating both proposals attracted a large majority of cross-party support.

"We would urge all councils to pass resolutions requesting a public inquiry into foot-and-mouth and to write to Margaret Beckett," said Jemima Milton, Conservative councillor for Swindon Borough Council.

"Central government has said it listens to local government; heres an opportunity to put those promises into practice by granting a full public inquiry. Without such an inquiry, ministers, civil servants and others can quietly back out of giving evidence. That should not be allowed to happen," said Mrs Milton.

Personal as well as public motives drive Mrs Miltons desire to see a public inquiry into the origins and handling of the F&M crisis. "The family farm at Draycot Foliate near Swindon lost 250 sheep culled as dangerous contacts," said Mrs Milton. "I know from both personal and council experience the confusion that surrounded the early handling of the disease."

So far, 19,500 FW readers have pledged to support our campaign for a full public inquiry. They bring the total to 93,500 collected by FW, Horse&Hound, Western Morning News, The Western Mail and The Journal in Newcastle.

If you would like to lend your weight, please sign the form opposite and encourage friends and neighbours to do likewise. We plan to deliver your signatures to Downing Street this autumn. &#42

Dear Mr Blair,

Since you have taken a personal interest in the tragedy that is foot-and-mouth and, at one point, direct control of its handling, please make a firm commitment now to hold a full public inquiry into the F&M crisis.

As you are well aware, the epidemic has caused untold anguish within farming and rural communities, taken millions of animals lives and has cost our economy billions of £s.

For the sakes of those who have lost everything, even loved ones, please give them the consolation of knowing now that you are committed to a full, robust public inquiry.

After the carnage that has unfolded in our countryside, how could you deny such a request?

We look forward to speedy confirmation of your decision.

Yours sincerely,

Name…………………………………………………………………………………

Occupation…………………………………………………………………………

Address………………………………………………………………………………

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……………………………………………………. Post Code……………………

Please return your letters to Inquiry Please, farmers weekly, FREEPOST (CN 2908), Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5BR.

Should you wish to withhold your address, please sign the letter and attach your address on a separate sheet.


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