AT THE Rural Recovery seminar at county hall in Durham City yesterday, Teesdale District Council chief executive, Mr Charles Anderson, responded to comments by Dr John Bridge, chairman of One North-East, that tourism was the key to diversification for the rural economy.

Dr Bridge said tourism was the largest industry in the world and the fastest growing, but Mr Anderson challenged this in terms of Teesdale.

Mr Anderson said that Teesdale was the third worst affected district in England with regards to foot-and-mouth and the message had not got across.

Tourism only created certain categories of jobs that were traditionally part-time and seasonal and not well-paid. This had to be measured against the loss of 400 manufacturing jobs in Teesdale over the next two years.

Dr Bridge did not agree with his view and felt that they should be looking at tourism as a mainstream sustainable activity.

Meanwhile, demands for a North Yorkshire County Council inquiry into all aspects of the foot-and-mouth crisis are set to be made next week.

Mr Jerry Pearlman is to table a resolution at a meeting of the Yorkshire Dales national park authority at the Middleham Key Centre on Tuesday.

If backed by members, the authority would formally request the county council to convene a public inquiry into the epidemic in the county and the national park area.

Mr Pearlman wants a number of specific issues addressed, including the steps taken by the government to identify the origins of the virus and to contain it, the quality of communications between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - and its predecessor, the Ministry of Agriculture - and farmers, and the assessment and speed of compensation payments.

The resolution, which already has the support of a number of national park authority members, says that, if the county council fails to hold such a hearing, the authority itself will convene its own inquiry along similar lines.

l Full report on the Rural Recovery meeting next week.