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Papers join forces to highlight plight of South West

A campaign to secure emergency funding for the South West in the wake of the foot and mouth crisis has been jointly launched four of the region’s newspapers.

The Plymouth Evening Herald, Western Morning News, Exeter Express & Echo and Torquay Herald Express have joined forces for the SOS South West campaign, which calls on the Prime Minister to give the area extra financial support.

To highlight how hard local businesses have been affected by the crisis, the papers have produced a special eight-page wrap-around, free to all their readers, which includes case studies from some of those affected and tells of how different areas are coping.

In Plymouth, the area is enjoying a brief reprieve and even a boost. But while tourist and retail figures are up at the moment, if the crisis continues the city will lose £100m in tourism alone, with a potential £88m more lost to retail.

In Torbay, accommodation providers are battling to survive in a declining tourism market, and the temporary closure of Paignton Zoo is resulting in lost bookings for many.

Margaret Webber, who runs an 18-bedroom establishment with partners David and Carole Edwards, said: “It’s quite a loss. The start of the holiday season is obviously an important time for any hotelier and these bookings account for a fair chunk of our income at this stage of the season.”

In Exeter, the crisis has already cost Exeter University’s Domestic Services division £250,000, and the figure is rising daily.

Derek Philips, director of the university’s catering and hospitality business, said the huge sum had been lost through the cancellation of a string of high-profile events, and he is demanding that the Government act now.

The four South West papers have also launched a petition, aimed at the Prime Minister, which seeks financial assistance on a par with that extended by the Government to areas threatened by the loss of industries such as car production and coal mining.

For information about the campaign visit

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