TRADING standards officers were still anxiously waiting yesterday to learn whether a suspected foot and mouth case at Borrowby would be confirmed.

The Ministry of Agriculture on Monday issued a form declaring the small unidentified sheep farm, close to the A19 between Thirsk and Northallerton, to be under suspicion of infection.

A trading standards spokesman said that while the department was quietly confident that tests would prove negative, an eight-kilometre exclusion zone had been put into place which meant that no livestock would be licensed out of that area.

Officers were awaiting the results of the ministry investigation before considering whether further restrictions should be imposed.

The spokesman said: "It is not unusual for the results of tests to take some time to come through. With laboratories taking so many samples for analysis there is bound to be something of a backlog."

Everyone was meanwhile being urged not to use country roads in the area, keep dogs on leashes and use disinfectant where it was provided. Licences which were issued for livestock movements from that area had been revoked.

Farming leaders yesterday welcomed the government's plans to launch a "pre-emptive strike" against foot and mouth.

All susceptible animals within a three kilometre radius of infected farms in the North of England and Southern Scotland are to be slaughtered almost immediately, according to Ministry of Agriculture, Nick Brown. He made announcement yesterday afternoon.

Most of the animals are in Cumbria. The National Farmers' Union has described the decision as "a grim necessity".

Yesterday lunchtime the total of confirmed FMD outbreaks rose to 239. It included a new case in Durham raising the total in the county to 15 but there was still only the one case in North Yorkshire at Raygill House in Wensleydale.

l A decision to re-open Barnard Castle golf club this week was described as "absolutely indefensible".

The club, which is surrounded by livestock farms and closed-off public footpaths, was originally closed by bad weather.

On Wednesday, following a management meeting, it introduced anti-foot-and-mouth disease measures and re-opened.

But Mr Phil Barber, local branch secretary of the National Farmers' Union, said the action was "absolutely indefensible".

Teesdale has so far only had one confirmed case of FMD at Hamsterley but there has been a spate of cases in neighbouring Weardale.

Teesdale district councillor Peter Stubbs, whose ward includes the golf club, was equally appalled.

"It must be closed," he said, "This is something I feel very strongly about. It is putting pleasure before anything else.

"The golf club is surrounded by livestock farms and unnecessary travel should be curtailed."

Club officials were curt. Club captain Mr Sid Lowes would only say it was a management decision. Mr Bill Raine, secretary, said: "We have no comment".

l Foot-and-mouth round-up: page 18.

l Leading article: page 22