As yet there have been no reported cases in the Warrington area. However, as the Animal Health Authority, the council, in conjunction with MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods) and Cheshire Police, are keeping a close eye on the situation. MAFF are also providing Council environmental officers with regular daily bulletins.
As for any environmental emergency, the council, police and MAFF representatives are in a position to respond quickly should the need arise.
As a precautionary measure, the council has closed Walton Hall Gardens Children's Zoo. The zoo will be closed until further notice to prevent any of the animals being infected by foot and mouth disease (the disease can be passed on through the clothing/footwear of people who have been in areas where the disease is present).
Council chief executive, Steven Broomhead, said: 'It is important to stress that this contingency plan has been put in place purely as a precautionary measure. We have taken all steps to ensure that if a farm in Warrington does become infected we have the ability, manpower, resources and capacity to effectively deal with the problem.
'As for the closure of the children's zoo, we obviously apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but we are taking these steps to ensure the animals are not affected. We know our community loves the animals and we do not wish to put them at any risk.'
The council supports MAFF advice to the public to postpone any unnecessary trips to the countryside that may bring people into contact with farm animals.
SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL ACTION ON FOOT & MOUTH DISEASE
AS a result of the recent foot and mouth outbreak in Great Britain, precautionary action is being taken across Suffolk to protect both business and livestock and to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Suffolk County Council is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the police to monitor areas of potential risk while a contingency plan is in place should there be an outbreak in the region.
Currently there are no cases or suspected cases of foot and mouth in Suffolk although as a precautionary measure certain public sites will be closed to the public from 27 February 2001. Public information notices will be erected at these sites seeking co-operation from the public, and safety tape will be applied across all public access points.
Following the announcement that public rights of way can be closed by local authorities in areas where the disease has been confirmed, Suffolk County Council is liaising closely with MAFF should action be required in Suffolk.
Suffolk County Council asks all members of the public to refrain from using these paths and a notice requesting voluntary restraint from using public paths in the countryside has been published.
In addition, all visits to sites on or adjacent to farmland by countryside staff and their contractors have been suspended until further notice.
This situation will be reviewed on a daily basis. The general advice to the public is to avoid visiting the countryside and avoid walking, riding and cycling across agricultural land. Animal health officers from Suffolk ounty Council's Trading Standards service are providing advice and guidance to farmers where appropriate.
Suffolk County Council is also considering whether any changes to school transport arrangements for children in rural areas are necessary, but will ensure all critical services - such as the care of the elderly in their homes - are maintained as normal.
Staff are being advised about precautionary steps they can take to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. Schools and youth organisations are also being advised to cancel any planned visits to farms.
Announcing the measures, chief executive Lin Homer said: 'It is vital that people remain vigilant to the dangers of spreading Foot and Mouth. Responsible and sensible behaviour from everyone can help keep Suffolk free from infection and provide a helping hand to our local farmers.
'We would ask people not to walk, cycle or ride across agricultural land for the foreseeable future. Some of these restrictions may seem like an inconvenience at the moment but the sooner we pull together the sooner this terrible disease will be eradicated.'
FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE - UPDATE FROM RICHMOND UPON THAMES COUNCIL
In response to the ongoing reported cases of foot and mouth disease countrywide, the government yesterday published powers allowing local authorities to close footpaths in prohibited areas.
As a precautionary measure, Richmond upon Thames Council has taken the decision to close the footpath through the grounds of Petersham Farm - a working farm in Richmond. Notices have been put up at either end of the footpath to this effect.
The council is strongly advising the public that they should avoid using the footpath for the duration of the current outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Walking or cycling should be avoided across land with animals.
Local schools are also being advised to cancel any proposed visits to the country.
Foot and mouth disease is highly infectious and can be spread by direct or indirect contact with infected animals. It is probably more infectious that any other disease affecting animals and spreads rapidly if not controlled. Airborne spread of the disease can take place and over considerable distances. Susceptible animals to F&MD are cattle, sheep, pigs and goats and some wild animals. Poultry and horses are not affected but could be transmitters of the disease if contaminated with the virus.
ON ALERT FOR FOOT AND MOUTH
Oxfordshire CC staff are on full alert for coping with an outbreak of foot and mouth disease as the incidence of reported cases draws ever closer.
With cases now suspected in neighbouring Northamptonshire, they are taking no chances and trading standards officers, emergency planners and staff from the Countryside Service have laid plans for helping to throw cordons round affected areas and coping with a full scale emergency.
Oxfordshire is south east England's most rural county where a significant number of people live and work in the countryside.
Prime responsibility for implementing emergency plans in the event of a suspected outbreak rests with the Ministry for Agriculture, Foods and Fisheries, whose staff would set up a control centre in the county.
But any occurrence of foot and mouth here would have major knock on effects for key frontline County Council services. Officers from the council's trading standards department are responsible for animal welfare and its Countryside Service staff have a major role to play in implementing restrictions to walking in the countryside.
Their main duties would include:
- Signposting controlled areas
- posting advisory notices on footpaths
- contacting all livestock holders in the controlled area
- dealing with inquiries
- disinfectant duties
- general assistance to MAFF including carcass disposal
- traceability of movement of animals
- issue of movement licenses
- investigation of alleged offences
COUNTY COUNCIL INTRODUCES FOOTPATH CLOSURES
North Yorkshire CC will close all public rights of way including footpaths, bridleways and open moorland as a precautionary measure to combat the threat of foot and mouth disease. This action is being taken following the government announcement yesterday giving various powers to local authorities to control any potential spread of the disease.
Stuart Pudney, head of trading standards, is co-ordinating the county's response.
He said, 'At the moment North Yorkshire is free of infection so we need to do everything possible to avoid unnecessary contact with agricultural and open land.
'Our aim is to to act quickly to prevent public access to agricultural land. In view of the difficulties of defining what is or is not agricultural land, we have decided that the restriction may apply to all public rights of way.
'This does not mean that all footpaths will be closed, particularly those in urban
settings. We are now encouraging farmers and landowners to contact us so that we
may supply them with official closure notices to put up on the appropriate paths and
bridleways which pass on to agricultural land.'
A special farmers' and landowners' hotline will be set up from 1pm today and will be operational Monday to Friday, from 7.30am to 9pm, the telephone number is 01609 532 765.
In addition, notices are being supplied to district council offices and all local libraries and can also be downloaded from the county council's website,
Farmers and landowners are advised to display notices at points where a right of way leaves a road. The national helpline for all other enquiries connected with foot and mouth disease is 0845 0504141.
The helpline, which is operated by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, is open between 8am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.
The county council is responsible for around 12,000 public footpaths and public
rights of way in total. Two National Parks, the North York Moors National Park and
the Yorkshire Dales National Park are also located within the county.