Date: Saturday 14th April 2001

PENRITH and the Border MP David Maclean called on the Government to give an immediate cash injection to all businesses in Cumbria hit by foot and mouth disease and the restrictions imposed during the crisis.

Mr. Maclean made the call after meeting 60 hoteliers, guesthouse operators and other representatives of tourist business at Patterdale on Friday. They told him their bookings had dropped by between 20 and 100 per cent.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Maclean said: “It is six weeks since our Cumbrian economy began to melt down. It is four weeks since the Cumbria Task Force first met, two weeks since the Prime Minister was here and yet today the situation is even more dire.

“We have had visits from every possible minister, but still no cash. We have had hints that the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise and Ratings Valuation Offices will be sympathetic, but thousands of businesses will be bankrupt by the time these measures kick in.

“Our catastrophe in Cumbria was caused by Government negligence in the first three weeks of the crisis and the Government has a duty to recompense all those who have lost out. The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s election bribes war chest has £23 billion in it. Cumbria only needs one per cent. of that, but it needs it now.”

Mr. Maclean added: “I have written to Tony Blair demanding that he immediately announce a cash injection for Cumbria of £230 million.”

Those attending the meeting at Patterdale also discussed the access status of a number of local attractions. They heard that Jenkins Field, near the steamer pier at Glenridding, was to open to the public at the weekend and that a leaflet on walking north from Glenridding was on its way.

Ideas for marketing the area were considered and public relations consultant and Eden councillor Tony Brunskill suggested that a special event would help to do this. The possible themes he mentioned included the area’s Viking connections, one day Outward Bound offers and aquatic activities.

It was agreed to form a media sub-committee and also a lobbying and finance sub-committee which will report back to the next meeting on Friday, 20th April.

The importance of keeping the area looking its best was stressed and Brian Scrivens agreed to write to the relevant parish councils asking them to clean up any unsightly spots. Additionally, local people were asked to pick up any litter they see.