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Warwickshire Closes Amid Foot And Mouth Fears

A raft of emergency measures such as closing parks and diverting bus and refuse services have been imposed to try and keep Warwickshire free of foot and mouth diesase.

School buses must stay away from Warwickshire farms.Contractors have been ordered not to go on to farms to collect children in the daily run to school.

And under no circumstances are they to cross disinfection barriers set up by farmers to stop the virulent disease getting onto their farms.

Children will be collected instead from the farm’s main entrance. A helpline has been set up for parents if they need more information: 01926 412029.

Richard Grant, cabinet member for education said:

”In some parts of the county, substantial numbers of pupils are transported to school from farm premises.

“We are anxious to do all we can to prevent the spread of this dreadful disease while maintaining normal school life for the pupils.

“Clearly, our prime concern is the continued safety of the children and we are considering urgently whether any special transport arrangements are necessary as a result of the instruction to contractors.”

Yesterday the district councils, Government officials, emergency services and farmers’ representatives agreed extra measures to prevent the risk of infection spreading.

Mobile libraries, minibuses and other council vehicles have also been banned from entering farms, and officials will stay away unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Members of the public are also being urged to avoid unnecessary trips to agricultural areas, and not to use public rights of way for the next few days.

Noel Hunter, director of Trading Standards said:

“At the moment Warwickshire is free of infection and to keep it that way we need to do everything we can to support farmers to prevent any spread of the disease.

“Foot and mouth disease is highly infectious and can be spread by direct or indirect contact with infected animals and/or dispersed in the wind.

“The animals most susceptible to the disease are cattle, sheep, pigs and goats.

“The Food Standards Agency has advised that the disease has no implication for the human food chain.”

Domestic refuse will not be collected from farms in Stratford district unless the waste is left by the roadside.

The contractors Biffa have been told not to go on farms until they are given the all-clear from the Government.

Any farmer wishing to contact the district council about their domestic rubbish arrangements should call 01789 260616.

In North Warwickshire refuse collections from farms has also stopped. Instead, rubbish sprayed with disinfectant in bags or wheelie bins can be left on the main road by the site entrance and weekly collections will be on the normal day.

Cesspool and septic tank emptying from properties on agricultural land is also suspended, unless council vehicles can be disinfected when arriving and leaving the farm.

Warwickshire County Council will close all of its eight countryside recreation sites from midnight tonight:

Kingsbury Water Park, near Tamworth; Alvecote Priory Picnic Site, near Polesworth; Hartshill Hayes Country Park, near Nuneaton; Ryton Pools Country Park, near Coventry; Draycote Water Country Park, near Rugby; Ufton Fields Nature Reserve, near Leamington, which was closed on Monday ;Burton Dassett Hills Country Park, near Banbury; The Milcote to Long Marston Greenway near Stratford.

Countryside Recreation Manager, Mark Wilkinson said:

"It is with great reluctance that we have now decided to close all of our eight countryside recreation sites which between them welcome 500,000 visitors a year.

“However we are resolved to take every action necessary to stop the spread of this disease."

Notices telling members of the public to stay off bridleways and footpaths near grazing land in the Stratford area have also been posted.

They are:

  • Warwick Road, Stratford-upon-Avon - land north of Fisherman's car park, between car park and caravan park entrance.

  • Welcombe Hills, Stratford-upon-Avon on all access points.

  • Rowley Fields, Stratford-upon-Avon.

  • Avon Valley Walk - access at south of Recreation Ground

  • Stratford-upon-Avon, Weston-on-Avon, Welford at Cress Hill, Barton and Bidford.

Farmers’ markets have also been cancelled until further notice, with the first casualty being the event in Stratford this Saturday.

Paul Skett, of E G Skett & Co, who operate the Warwickshire's Farmers Markets on behalf of Warwick District Council, said:

"This disease is very infectious and uncomfortable for animals. We need to be doing everything we can to assist in eradicating it as soon as possible.

“By taking what may seem extreme measures of cancelling the market scheduled for this weekend we will hopefully be able to minimise the period the markets are unable to operate."

Steve Dawkes, chairman of the market, added:

"Farmers' markets give people the chance to buy traceable, local foods and if ever there was a time to support them, it will be as soon as the Warwickshire's Farmers Markets are able to re-open for business."


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CWN / Politics / Warwickshire County Council / 28 Feb 01

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