June 16, 2024

Call for vital health initiative for farmers to escape council budget cuts

At a recent visit to Hall Farm, Cruckmeole, Hanwood, Councillor Julia Buckley, also Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Shrewsbury, met farmer Andrew Bebb, to discuss the success of the Shropshire Rural Support Charity and its Health Check Van service.

During their tour of the farm, Mr Bebb detailed his recent struggles with farming issues including Bovine TB. He also described the challenges facing Shropshire farmers including flooding, complex Government subsidy application schemes, the price of grain since the Ukraine war, and the struggle to find help on the farm.

Councill Buckley said he also described the lack of support and the long hours he works as a dairy and sheep farmer.

“During this lambing season Andrew typically finishes his day at around 2am with a quick tea and shower before sleeping for two hours and starting again,” she said.

As a Trustee of the Shropshire Rural Support charity, Mr Bebb was instrumental in setting up the Health Check Van service with Shropshire Council’s support team, which visits cattle markets in Shropshire’s rural market towns.

It enables farmers to receive free medical check-ups including dental and skin cancer checks and the chance to talk to a medical professional about any concerns thereby enabling referral to support services and an opportunity for prompt intervention. Many farmers present with mental health issues.

Andrew Bebb said, “It has – without question -saved lives of farmers in our area and it is so important to keep this service going. I am very concerned that it is not affected by the Council’s

budget cuts.”

The Council announced recently that itneeds to save a further £62m from April leaving only mandatory services – those minimal activities required by law.

Visiting the farm, Julia Buckley, said she waswas impressed with Andrew Bebb and his charity work.

“What an incredible community where farmers are looking out for each other in such challenging circumstances. Despite the immense pressure on their time and resources, it is heart-warming to

see farmers working together with partner organisations to support this initiative, which has undoubtedly saved lives.  With the reduced support for farmers and increased challenges, we must

support this vital scheme and protect it from the Council cuts. Our farmers in Shropshire need more support in the challenging times ahead, not less.”

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