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SOS update

More than 2,000 people have signed an SOS petition – backing the Express & Echo’s call for the Government to support people who have suffered in the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The campaign, launched on April 10, wants the Government to provide the region with £150m in aid to regenerate businesses and communities.

Businesses, farmers, MPs and even the Bishop of Exeter have signed up in support of the appeal launched in conjuncture with its sister papers, the Plymouth Evening Herald, the Torquay Herald Express and Western Morning News.

It follows a prediction by economic experts warning that the costs of the crisis to businesses in Devon could be £1bn, with more than 10,000 jobs at risk.

Tourism is the industry which has been hit the hardest, and it was hoped the fact that the Easter Weekend joined with the re-opening of a number of footpaths would see things getting back to normal in Devon, but there have been mixed reports.

Malcolm Bell, chief executive of South West Tourism, said their was still real trouble on Dartmoor and parts of Exmoor: “Numbers of visitors have dropped dramatically here for obvious reasons.

“The industry will lose about £25m as 100,000-150,000 fewer people travel to the South West.”

Alison Boni, the Echo’s brand manager, said: “The petitions are continuing to attract a lot of interest and we are really pleased with the response from the public.”

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