Hoteliers and guesthouse owners from the areas worst hit by last year's foot-and-mouth disease outbreak are continuing to join a group suing the Government for £1b in compensation.
More than 100 businesses from Cumbria, Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Devon, which lost money during the six-month crisis, are now part of a 3,000-strong group of claimants organised by the UK Rural Business Campaign taking action through London law firm Class Law.
The claim is based on allegations that the Government was negligent in its handling of the outbreak, and Class Law has now delivered a letter to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs putting its case.
A spokesman for Class Law said the claim would be a slow process but businesses across the entire tourism industry were still joining the group.
Among the claimants are Marian Burnip and Ian Leonard, who ran a pub near Keswick in Cumbria until the outbreak wiped out their trade. They now run the Astral Palms guesthouse in Babbacombe, Devon.
"The Government handled it in a completely incompetent manner and we want some compensation," said Burnip. "We were in a rural village that relied on trade from farmers and tourists. We lost the £20,000-plus we had invested and came out with an overdraft and VAT bills."
She added: "It is destroying our lives, and we just want enough back to pay off everything. We have been made to feel like criminals because of what we owe. It would be nice to get out of bed in the morning without the worry and the fear."
by Kevin Lee
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 13-19 June 2002