Heres the OIAs latest letter to the PM, copied to the DTI and Michael Meacher, chairman of the rural taskforce.
The letter was also sent out to specialist and mainstream national media organisations.
FOOT AND MOUTH - IMPACT ON THE OUTDOOR SECTOR
Further to my letter of 14 March, and despite government protestations that the countryside is open for business, the clear message from Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) members is that until footpaths are re-opened in our National Parks and other popular walking and climbing areas, all businesses involved in the supply of outdoor clothing and equipment will continue to suffer heavily.
The association has just completed a survey investigating the impact of the current foot and mouth crisis on the outdoor clothing and equipment sector.
The results make grim reading:
76% of manufacturers/suppliers and 75% of retailers of walking, climbing and camping goods saw a significant downturn in sales during March this year;
30% of manufacturers/suppliers and 37% of outdoor retailers and have already had to reduce staffing levels;
76% of manufacturers/suppliers have been asked to postpone deliveries to retailers;
62% of manufacturers/suppliers have had orders cancelled by retailers;
81% of OIA members are unhappy with the way the crisis is being handled by the government, including 41% who say they are very unhappy.
The above represents the situation for the whole of March 2001 compared with the same month last year. Many members report that the situation has tightened considerably in the last fortnight and, welcome though VAT, NI and rate holidays etc are, a substantial number of businesses need an urgent cash injection if they are to survive.
The survey reveals strong support for the following specific actions by
The immediate introduction of a vaccination programme to bring the disease under control.
Resources to ensure a speedy risk assessment programme to identify those rural rights of way and access land which can be re-opened safely.
Funding for a national campaign (similar to that currently supporting the
tourism industry) to promote areas where rights of way and access land are being re-opened.
Legislation to allow the temporary laying off of staff who can then be
re-employed as the crisis eases.
The establishment of a national emergency loan scheme open to any business adversely affected by foot and mouth.
We welcome your direct involvement in this crisis and have written similarly to Michael Meacher and Stephen Byers suggesting meetings to discuss in detail the results of our survey and the support the Rural Task Force and DTI might be able to offer the outdoor clothing and equipment supply sector in this extremely difficult period.
Director - Marketing & Development
Outdoor Industries Association
Morritt House - 58 Station Approach
South Ruislip - RUISLIP - HA4 6SA - UK
tel: +44 (0)20 8842 1111
fax: +44 (0)20 8842 0090