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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Community waits for next moves
By Mario Cacciottolo
BBC News, Surrey

Jayne Pettit
Jayne Pettit has concerns for the local economy

Scientists, the government and most of all farmers are all now holding their breath to see if the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Surrey can be contained.

Among those anxiously awaiting further news is Angus Stovold, a 42-year-old farmer who owns a holding in Shackleford, near Godalming in Surrey, which consists of eight farms.

He breeds and sells Aberdeen Angus cattle - 150 cows and 155 yearlings, bulls and calves - and on one of the farms which he rents out, there are some 4,000 pigs.

"I'm shocked that foot-and-mouth has come back," he said.

"I thought [Environment department] Defra had given it long enough - we all thought that, and that we were over it.

"How it got to Egham is a mystery. Either it was travelling along the river, or was malicious, or it came from Pirbright."

The whole industry is gut-wrenched about the news of this
Angus Stovold

The concern is evident in his voice when he talks about the disease possibly spreading.

"It's so virulent, this disease. Despite Defra's actions last time, it might have spread a lot more for all we know. I hope not."

Mr Stovold is particularly worried about the implications of this second outbreak.

"We've only been open since Saturday because of the first set of restrictions which were imposed - now we're closed down again.

"Luckily we've moved our cattle to fields where there is grass, but our tenant never got the chance.

"He will have to be feeding about 1,000 extra pigs next week, which are all outdoors because they're free-range.

"He's going to be in trouble. The cost of feeding all those extra pigs is going to be a real worry for him."

Breeders' fears

Mr Stovold, however, has his own problems.

"I had people coming to see heifers and bulls on Monday, so we could do some trade and try to get some money back in, but that's gone by the by.

"I've been speaking to other breeders and we don't think there will be any movement this side of Christmas. Defra will take longer this time to lift the restrictions.

"This is the traditional time for people to buy their stock. The whole industry is gut-wrenched about the news of this."

Although he is supportive of Defra, Mr Stovold is less so of the official explanation as to where the first outbreak came from.

"Let them find out exactly where this latest case has come from, and not have another whitewash report where they didn't find the source.

"Gordon Brown said that no stone would be left unturned, but they didn't do that.

"They never found the mechanics of how it left the site or how it got out exactly. They talked about drainage but never found the exact source."

Angus Stovold and his family
Angus Stovold has concerns over when he can trade cattle again

In Egham, hiding away among streets of tightly-packed and picturesque red-brick houses, Jayne Pettit can be found pulling a pint behind the bar at the Foresters Arms pub.

This landlady has eight letting rooms on the premises and has concerns that, should foot-and-mouth spread, her trade might be affected.

"Three of the rooms we let out during the week are to caddies at Wentworth," she said.

"If the golf course had to be closed, then that would mean they wouldn't be here, and so there would be a knock-on effect for us.

"We also have a restaurant, and if people stopped coming to the area, then that could suffer too.

"We use local produce, so we'll have to see if there's a problem with local butchers. The local economy could easily be affected by this."

Ms Pettit said the arrival of foot-and-mouth in the area had sparked plenty of debate in the local community.

"The situation has been a topic of discussion in the pub, lots of people have been talking about it.

I think the government was a little bit swift in saying they had eradicated it last time
Tom Richardson

"Personally I don't have faith in the authorities in containing the disease. They should have made better controls for it not to have happened again.

"If animals are going to have to be killed, then bang - there goes the economy again."

Tom Richardson, 74, has lived in Egham for 30 years but still speaks with an accent that hints at his London roots.

He raises the issue of vaccination, and wonders why the nation's animals at risk have not been given a dose.

"The government should vaccinate every cow, steer and bull," he said.

Mr Richardson has a theory on why the disease has reached this corner of Surrey.

"I think the government was a little bit swift in saying they had eradicated it last time.

"We've had two local shows since then, with horses and cattle, so there's been movement of animals there for a start.

"They jumped the gun. I can't think of anything else."




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