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BBC Wales's Rhun ap Iorweth
"As Tony Blair arrived in Usk there were boos from on-lookers in the street."
 real 56k

Wales Tourist Board chief Jonathan Jones in Usk
"Tourism operators are bleeding to death because the business just isn't coming in"
 real 56k

BBC Wales's political correspondent Rhun ap Iorwerth
"Mr Blair did a lot more listening than talking"
 real 28k

BBC Wales's political correspondent Rhun ap Iorwerth
"The meeting ending with farmers and tourism leaders feeling Mr Blair had listened to them"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 18:53 GMT 19:53 UK
Blair jeered on farm crisis visit
Tony Blair at a press conference in Usk
Mr Blair addresses the press after being jeered in Usk
Prime Minister Tony Blair was booed and jeered at as he arrived in Monmouthshire to discuss the foot-and-mouth crisis with farmers.

Mr Blair has been spending the day with farming and tourism leaders, country landowners, and officials co-ordinating the crisis measures in Wales.

When this disease first began, there were certain parts of the country that were shut down in an ultra-cautious way

Prime Minister Tony Blair in Usk, Monmouthshire

He travelled to Usk for a meeting with representatives of organisations affected by the disease - but received a mixed reception from on-lookers as he reached the centre of the rural town.

The assembly later announced an emergency fund to help local authorities with the cost of foot-and-mouth and in efforts to prevent its spread.

On the issue of tourism, Wales Tourist Board Chief Executive Jonathan Jones said: "We left Mr Blair in no doubt of the importance of tourism to Wales, and that some tourism operators are bleeding to death because the business just isn't coming in."

Mr Blair listened at length to the concerns expressed, having earlier admitted that some restrictions aimed at halting the outbreak had been unnecessary.

Crisis in Wales
Total confirmed cases UK-wide 953 - with 57 in Wales
Powys - 34 cases
Anglesey - 13 cases
Monmouthshire - nine cases

"Obviously, when this disease first began and we couldn't see its entire spread around the country, there were certain things that had to happen and certain parts of the country that were shut down in an ultra-cautious way," he explained.

"But we now have to start opening footpaths, that do not go through livestock areas, for example, and attractions that perfectly easily could be opened."

Agriculture Minister Carwyn Jones took the prime minister to visit the assembly's disease control centre in Cathays Park in Cardiff, where he met First Minister Rhodri Morgan, Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy and staff co-ordinating the operation.

At the same time, Opposition leader William Hague, was on the other side of the border in Gloucestershire calling on Mr Blair to give the army full operational control to relieve the "hopelessly overstretched" Ministry of Agriculture.

Tony Blair and Rhodri Morgan briefed by army
Soldiers brief Tony Blair and Rhodri Morgan

Mr Blair's visit comes at a time of growing unease in Wales about arrangements for the slaughter and disposal of animals affected by the epidemic.

There have been angry scenes in rural areas where sites have been chosen for the burning or burial of bodies.

A 27-year-old man appeared in court in Ystradgynlais in the Swansea Valley on Tuesday charged with the attempted murder of a police officer injured during a foot-and-mouth protest.

Steven Andrew Morgan was charged following an incident at the weekend at Llywel near Sennybridge, mid Wales, in which a 50-tonne bulldozer crushed a police van driven by PC John Stone.

Remanded in custody

Mr Morgan from Llandovery also faces a charge of grievous bodily harm, taking a vehicle, and five counts of criminal damage with intent to endanger life.

Magistrates refused an application for bail and he was remanded in custody to appear at Merthyr Crown Court on 12 April.

PC Stone had been on duty as local people protested against the burial of sheep carcasses at the nearby Epynt army range.

He is said to be in a comfortable condition in hospital.

Three other people were questioned and released on police bail in connection with the theft of the digger, conspiracy to cause criminal damage with intent to endanger life.
Foot-and-mouth warning sign
A total of 53 cases have been confirmed in Wales

Residents are still "furious" that Maff and the assembly plan to bring the bodies of infected livestock to their area - so far clear of foot-and-mouth.

But Carwyn Jones pledged that the Epynt operation would go ahead.

Four hundred villagers at nearby Trecastle are continuing a protest against the burn and burial plans.

The Environment Agency confirmed on Monday that it had received an anonymous threat to dump animal carcasses into reservoirs if the Epynt disposal operation goes ahead.

Conservative Leader William Hague
Hague wants the army to have control

Elsewhere, 20 farmers mounted a protest outside an abbatoir at St Asaph in Denbighshire, north Wales, on Monday.

Farmers in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, took similar action at the Trecatti landfill site, but were later told that no bodies would be dumped there.

Agriculture Minister Carwyn Jones confirmed the site had been earmarked by the Intervention Board, but he confirmed that no animals would be buried there.

On Anglesey the culling of 40,000 sheep has continued.

National Assembly for Wales foot-and-mouth helpline 02920 825572

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