An open letter to farming minister Nick Brown was used on the front page of the Exeter Express and Echo to launch a campaign to keep the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food’s regional support centre in Exeter – and save 300 local jobs.
Next to a picture of the Minister, striding out wearing green wellies, the paper ran the headline “These jobs must stay”. The open letter listed what the paper calls “compelling” reasons why the centre should remain. Among these are:
- Almost 11,000 farmers visit the centre each year for advice. Closure would mean them having to travel to Bristol, for some a journey of around 200 miles.
- Staff handle paperwork involving 28,000 separate farms in Devon and Cornwall and the centre pays out subsidies of more than £103 million.
- Around £2.5 million was spent two years ago relocating the staff to their present centre at Winslade Park.
The letter concluded: “We ask that you put an end to the uncertainty and anxiety your review has caused by making a firm pledge to keep the Exeter site open. We look forward to a favourable result at the earliest opportunity. Your sincerely, Express & Echo”.
Coverage, by reporter Tom Richmond, continued across pages two and three.
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