Government response inadequate

12 October 2001

Government response inadequate

THE public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis in Devon, which enters its final day today (Friday), has heard how the epidemic devastated the county.

On Monday, Devon NFU chairman David Hill told the inquiry that the response of government officials during the early stages of the crisis was totally inadequate. "They were overwhelmed from the start."

John Varley, director of Clinton Devon Estates also said the government reacted poorly to the epidemic. Giving evidence on Tuesday, he said: "Our feeling was that government was applying a top-down process – you know, one-size-fits-all, take it or leave it."

On Wednesday, Mark Raven, head teacher of Black Torrington Primary School, criticised advice he was given about the disease from Devon County Council. His school was closed for a week during the height of F&M and some children were unable to attend even when the school re-opened.

Yesterday, Graham Gilbert of Great Western Radio, was due to praise the role of the NFU during the crisis. He was set to criticise the Regional Development Agency and South-West Tourism which rejected an offer of help from his radio station to market tourism.

A report from the inquiry will be submitted to the governments Policy Commission on the Future of Farming later this year. Inquiry chairman Ian Mercer said: "We, need to know how to avoidF&M, the way we deal with it and its aftermath." &#42

David Hill: Farmers were shocked.

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