A representative from South Lakeland District Council pleaded poverty on today's 1pm news on Radio Four, saying it should be central government which picks up the tab for compensating businesses adversely affected by foot-and-mouth disease. Meacher moved on the issue...

Meacher flip-flops on FMD business support

Environment minister Michael Meacher said on the influential Radio Four news programme that he was minded to review the whoke issue of business support packages.

He agreed that local authorities would be hit hard by any granting of rate relief for businesses affected by FMD.

But he stressed that for any business to have a chance of claiming support of ay kind it would need to provide tangible evidence of harm having been done.

"We have an abundance of anecdotal evidence but we need hard evidence. Gather together hard information and the level of need can be assessed."

As well as the problem of where the cash will come from on a local level the South Lakeland District Council spokesman said the current number of rate relief applications would take 27 weeks to plough through. And that’s if the FMD crisis stopped today. Further delays would be added as the crisis continues and he urged central government help should be offered to affected businesses quickly and simply.

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