Trade still suffering from disease despite Government assurances
The foot-and-mouth crisis is continuing to devastate the rural pub trade, despite the Government's assurances the worst of the disease is over.
Business is still badly hit in rural areas and many licensees are continuing to struggle through what is normally their busiest period.
The Cumbria Crisis Alliance, formed of rural small businesses from the area, has met with the Treasury and the Government's rural task force to put their case across.
Spokesman Terry Franks, licensee of the Royal Oak in Braitewaite, Keswick and the Waverley Hotel in Penrith, said they had welcomed the meeting but it had failed to live up to expectations.
"There's a general feeling we're being palmed off," he said. "There's not a lot of hope here at the moment but we're going to carry on fighting."
He added that although the Government had allocated money to help publicise the countryside it was not getting distributed.
"The only good news is the fells are reopening on June 9," he said. "But only from certain points, some of it will be manned and there will be absolutely no dogs."
Bank Holiday weekend, which marks the beginning of half term for schools and is usually a busy time for pubs, passed quietly for many rural licensees as tourists chose the seaside over the countryside.
Stephen Armstrong, licensee of the New Inn, Llanbadarn Fynydd in Powys, said he only had a good weekend thanks to local people.
"We had the opening of a new village hall and we did the bar and the food for that," he said. "The locals are getting about more and business picked up in that respect but there's still no holidaymakers."
He said there was little optimism among the trade. "Unless they open the footpaths soon I can't see things changing all summer," he added.
Licensee Alan Selwood, of the Forest Inn in Hexworthy, Dartmeet, said his trade had been "terrible" over the holiday.
"We did no more than a third of what we would expect. On one day we fed five people when we would have expected to feed 45," he said.
"The weather was beautiful but there's nothing to do without walking. People, especially those with kids, prefer to go to the beach. I don't blame them."
He said he had been told that if there are no more outbreaks of the disease within 10km of the Dartmoor national park, the footpaths would be reopened in July.
"That would be a big boost providing we get that marketed properly," Mr Selwood said. "But I've got a feeling the Government is so worried about the General Election that these things aren't being made public."