Disease halts farmers election effort

28 March 2001

Disease halts farmer’s election effort

By FWi staff

A NORTHUMBERLAND farmer who serves as a councillor has been forced to end his election campaign before it has even begun because of foot-and-mouth.

Conservative county councillor Michael Jeans has been quarantined after the disease was confirmed on his holding at Tranwell, near Morpeth.

And even when this quarantine period is over, he will not dare visit another farm canvassing because the risk is simply too high.

Mr Jeans, acting group leader for the Tories, hit out at the Labour Government for not yet deciding whether to call off elections.

Tony Blair let slip last week that he has just days to decide whether local elections and the general election can be called for 3 May.

“It is almost insulting to call an election,” said Mr Jeans. “I know it is not our call, but still it is not the right thing to do.”

Mr Jeans 35 cattle and 250 sheep were slaughtered and buried on Tuesday (27 March) after the disease was confirmed.

Meanwhile, there are growing fears among Northumberland farmers that it is not only the Lake District hills that will lose their sheep, but the Pennines too.

This follows the confirmation of a case on Whitley Common, west of Alston on the Cumbrian/Northumberland border.

The disease has also been found in the centre of Hexhamshire Common — a large open area covered with thousands of hefted sheep.

National Sheep Association chairman David Smith has called on the Government to gather all stock from open land to prevent further spread.

And Mr Smith claims that the Ministry of Agriculture is “nowhere near” its target of 24 hours from diagnosis to slaughter.

He added: “I had very much hoped that Northumberland might escape, but it is all around us now. It is not if, but when for us too.”

By 17.00 on Wednesday (28 March) 12 new cases of foot-and-mouth had been confirmed, taking the UK total to 705.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

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