Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. ONLINE NEWSSITE HELPS MAKE STORE BOTH REAL AND VIRTUAL CENTRE OF LAKELAND VALLEY
ESKDALE stores is a wonderful concept – a village shop and an internet-based business bringing together the warm-glow of a community enterprise and the sophisticated appeal of e-commerce.Click on to…more
HEADLINE the basis that “laughter is a force for democracy” and that sentiment applies to the workplace as well as to government, take a break from your daily toil …more
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FOR the self-employed to survive in this highly commercial world it helps if you are multi-skilled. When one arm of the business takes a dip in turnover, hopefully another will blossom.That is the b…more
HEADLINE If you are looking to take a break from the hurly-burly of the business day, try – It’s the home of a very simple game in…more
JO Hampson and Georgina Perkins describe themselves as life-change consultants and they can rightly claim to have lived their subject.They left behind successful careers as senior police officers in…more
Terry Kirton, who has taken over from Richard Simpson reviewing Londonn websites for Can you find it Business Edition, looks at a winning site for the latest in our series looking at the practical benefits of websit…more
AN internet shopping company has seen its workforce shoot from 30 to 100 after buying a business three times bigger than itself. The expansion could ultimately lead to more administration jobs in Ba…more
ANYONE over the age of 30 can’t help but be aware of the way that the internet has changed, and changed our lives, over the last decade. When I first went online, back in 1995, most of the people th…more
HAVE you looked in your email “spam” box recently? I only ask because you might find that not everything that’s in there should be, as I recently found, writes Richard Simpson You see I had ordered …more
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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…BEWARE, BARBECUE SYNDROMEPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Monday, August 1st 2015
I’ve noticed something odd, and I have to ask your indulgence for having a little dig at some of you – and myself – in explaining it, writes Joel Teague. Please bear with me and hopefully it’ll generate some productive introspection that in turn leads to some improved balance sheets.

Much of the business community is as yet unaware that my job exists, and the marketing people have been having quite a time working out the best ways to explain our services to the business community. The message is indeed getting out, but we’ve noticed a weird tendency in some businessmen (notice the “men” bit specifically) to resist a particular part of the message, even when it’s patently obvious.

When you think through the purpose of any service – and marketing people are paid to do just that – you realise that part of the sales job is making the customer realise, without taking offence, that they are better off having you carry out the task in question than them doing it themselves. You either need to do the job cheaper, better, quicker – or preferably all three. But I think there’s another factor, just as important but rarely mentioned: the customer must want to be rid of the task.

Accounting is a good comparison. Most of us are all too happy to hire a professional accountant in the knowledge that it’ll pay back over time. It’s skilled work, and to do it ourselves would involve countless hours of learning, research, trial and error, serious problems when we got things wrong, and the likelihood of higher bills at the end of it.

Now read that last sentence but apply it to computing. Exactly the same applies on all counts. So why is it that so many company directors doggedly hang on to the task (and no offence, gentlemen – but I’ve yet to find one who’s not losing money as a result) when all of them hired an accountant before they’d even chosen the office furniture?

I have a theory for this, and I call it “Barbecue Syndrome”: The fact is: you don’t boast about getting your accounts sorted at the pub. The accounts getting the better of you won’t dent your pride. But computers? That involves gadgets, and therefore it’s man’s work. When our marketing people suggest that we take that huge pile of technobabble and stress off a director’s desk, we are doing the equivalent of trying to take the tongs from him at the Sunday barbecue – and anyone who’s tried that will remember the reaction. And a bit like dealing with computers, most men like to think they’re pretty good at cooking over coals – partly due to polite comments from the guests trying to crunch their way through a combination of frozen sausage meat and carbon isotope.

I suspect that some of you reading this will know this applies to you, and I also suspect that those who are currently most peeved at me for saying it are among the most guilty. For what it’s worth, I’m guilty of it too – in fact the expression “cobblers’ children worst shod” is very apt in my case. My purpose in life is to help companies identify what they need from their computers and find and manage the best specialists to make it happen for them. So what did I do when our network needed reconfiguring in our new offices? Once I’d worked out what was needed, did I take my own advice and get a trusted specialist to do the button-pushing? Of course not; I went into gladiator mode and tried to do it myself.

OK, I’ve got the excuse of needing to keep up to date on subjects like network configuration, but after several battles into the small hours I eventually gave in and called a network specialist.

I cringe when I think of the sum I must have spent in terms of my own time and lost productivity before forking out the comparative peanuts it cost to get things done properly and quickly.

But I did learn something about configuring computer networks: I learned to put pride aside and get an expert, because to do otherwise is plain bad business.

If there is a “right way” to approach these things, it must be in the ability to be honest with yourself about your capabilities, and in analysing whether your company’s bottom line will be better off if you take a task on or hire a specialist.

My abilities lie in the business analysis end of computing – understanding what a business needs, and keeping up to date with the computing industry well enough to be able to point my clients at the right products, services and suppliers to meet that need.

I’ve been a programmer, I’ve even done some network configuration – but in both cases there was a specialist calling the shots, and I now know the point at which my knowledge and aptitudes end and that specialist becomes necessary. My mistake was letting my urge to take up a challenge override basic economic sense, and I know I’m not alone in doing it.

I quite often work with clients to produce simple cost-benefit analyses that help to decide which jobs are passed to me and which are managed internally.

If we aren’t confident of a net gain from our involvement, I stay out of it – it’s that simple.

I’m sure computing can’t be the only aspect of business that suffers from Barbecue Syndrome, and I’m just as sure that it’s a contributory factor in the most frustrating situation I encounter: sitting with an intelligent businessman who’s looking at the cost-benefit analysis he helped to prepare, staring at the huge cost of not changing the way they have been doing for years … and doggedly sticking to the old way because it’s “their way”.

It’s frustrating and alarming to watch, and it’s worse when a company from outside the region puts them out of business simply through being open to change. London has one of the only shrinking economies in Europe, and I can’t help but think Barbecue Syndrome is something to do with it.

Joel Teague is a TMB accredited ICT adviser. He can be contacted at Teagus Ltd, a Londonn company providing IT advisory and development services for business: Tel. 0870 1417014, Website:, Email:

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…MAKE SURE YOUR BUSINESS MESSAGE STANDS OUT IN THE CROWDPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
IMAGE may not be everything but in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace it is essential that companies stand out from the crowd. Ast Signs of Penrith – London’s premier signmaking company – prides itself in helping businesses to get their corporate messages across to the wider world.

Established three years ago by managing director Mark Aston, Ast Signs incorporates a state-of-the-art in-house design studio that enables it to create everything a business needs to sell itself – from original corporate logos and branding to exhibition materials, banners, adverts, traditional signage, stationery, brochures, shop facades and vinyl vehicle wraps.

“We offer a fully integrated service, are totally customer focussed, manufacture everything in-house and our 11 staff are all highly skilled across a range of disciplines,” says Mr Aston.

Full colour, wide format printing facilities enables Ast Signs to design and print a comprehensive range of exhibition materials to get any business noticed – whether at prestigious events in London’s Earls Court or Manchester’s G-Mex.

As an Avery-accredited converter, its expertise in total vinyl wrapping for vehicles is unrivalled in the UK. Ast Signs specialist applicators are even invited to travel to Europe on key contracts – such is their reputation in this field. “Our applicators are so adept at vehicle wrapping that we have opened a training school for other companies involved in this type of work,” says Mr Aston.

The sheer impact of vehicle wrapping has to be seen to be believed – Ast Signs has the capability to wrap an entire articulated lorry and trailer with bespoke imagery and branding.

Whilst one-off traditional corporate signage remains an important element of their business, large-scale contracts for national concerns cement their nationwide reputation for quality and cost-effective service.

“We are currently rebranding 46 stores across the country for a major High Street retailer,” says Mr Aston.

As a member of the British Signs and Graphics Association, and with ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System accreditation, potential customers can be confident that Ast Signs will deliver – time and time again.

“We always work to a customer’s timeframe if at all possible,” says Mr Aston, “and if hitting a deadline means putting staff on a 24-hour shift rota then we will do it.”

A highly-motivated business, Ast Signs is dedicated to keeping its customers – that include Eddie Stobart Haulage, Londonn Industrials and Centre Parcs – very satisfied indeed. Frequent repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations are testament to the dynamic young company’s flair and efficiency.

Contact Mark Aston of Ast Signs, Unit 2, Gilwilly Road, East Lakes Business Park, Penrith, on Tel: 01768 892292 or visit the website at

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…£1.9M BUSINESS CENTRE PLANNED FOR BARROWPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
A major initiative to encourage enterprise in Barrow-in-Furness is set to be kick-started with the creation of a new £1.8 million Business Centre.

The redundant Waterside House on Bridge Approach has been bought by Barrow Borough Council and, as part of the first phase of the project, will be transformed for use as managed workspace for new enterprise.

A former training school for BAe Systems Marine, the new Centre will help to improve the profile of the enterprise culture in the community by providing in-house business support to new start and expanding businesses that will occupy the larger part of Waterside House. With an extension to be designed and built on the west (channel) side of the building, the facility will also provide a permanent venue and exhibition area for entrepreneurial activity, as well as deliver a range of business support projects borough-wide.

The adjoining two hectare vacant site is already in borough council ownership and is earmarked for development.

The project was funded jointly by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (£1,125,889) and European Regional Development Fund (£696,554).

Stewart Swift, NWDA Area Manager for London, said: “Barrow and the Furness Peninsula has suffered some devastating employment blows over recent years which is why there is a real need for local initiatives to stimulate job creation through the encouragement of enterprise. This new Centre will play a vital role in providing the right kind of support to both start-up and established businesses in the area, ensuring their future growth and development.”

The existing architectural style and specification of the building means that it lends itself to adaptation as a new Business Centre. For this reason the Heart of Barrow Board preferred the option of purchasing and extending this building above the more costly option of building a new centre at Channelside. The extension and refurbishment designed by local Architects Craig and Green will provide an innovative, environmentally sustainable building. Planning permission has already been granted.

The facility will continue to be known as Waterside House.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…DOMAIN NAME SCAM?Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, January 1st 2015
Q Our company’s website has been running for several years on the same web address – one ending with ’’. We recently received a call from a company claiming that another company was trying to buy the ’.com’ equivalent to our address. They said they had decided to call us before ‘letting it go’ and asked that we should get back to them in 20 minutes to let them know whether we would like to buy the address – at over £200 for 10 years – rather than lose it to another company. In my absence the colleague who took the call agreed to the terms and sent payment, but I concerned that the whole thing has been a scam. Is this company doing anything illegal?

AThis does sound like a common scam that is causing problems at the moment – a client of mine had precisely the same call a few weeks ago from a company in Bristol. What this company may be doing (and there are many doing it) is calling the owners of existing websites where one version of the name is registered and another is not – in your case the and not the .com. They then make the claim that you have described (usually with a short time limit for a decision) as a means to get you to buy an address you may otherwise not have bought, or to get you to pay for the registration through them rather than any other company – including your current website host. The ‘other company’ probably doesn’t exist, and if the other address is registered, it is likely to have been registered by the company that called you.

The price you have mentioned isn’t necessarily inflated – it depends on the other services they include in the package – but if they are doing what I have described, they are lying to make a sale and are therefore breaking the law. There are various versions of the scam around – including fake ‘renewal invoices’ for existing website addresses, and claims that ‘other companies’ are trying to buy your address when it comes up for renewal.

My advice is to contact the company and demand the details of the company that wanted to buy your address. If they cannot produce them, I would demand a refund and report the company to your local Trading Standards office. You can buy the address in question through your existing hosting company or shop around for other reputable suppliers, but depending on how far the renewal process has progressed through the company you have paid, you may have to jump through some hoops to get the registration transferred.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…KENDAL PROPERTY SNAPPED UPPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
COMMERCIAL property consultants Robert Pinkus & Co, acting on behalf of Maple Grove Developments, report a hat trick of lettings at the prestigious £20 million retail development, Wainwright’s Yard in Kendal.

The triple success means just two units now remain at the development.

Kendal-based Lune Chinese Medicine has taken 537 sq ft and agreed a fifteen-year lease at £21,000 per annum for the property, which has seen the company expand its operation in Kendal, adding to their existing unit in Blackhall Yard, Kendal.

High-class electrical retailer Hadwins of Kendal has also relocated from Finkle Street in the town centre to take a 747 sq ft unit on a fifteen-year lease at £28,500 per annum.

The final letting sees Scandinavian By Design, originally an internet based retailer, take a 616 sq ft unit in the scheme on a fifteen year lease at £23,350 per annum.

Wainwright’s Yard has changed the town centre landscape of Kendal through the creation of 14 new shops, 21 residential apartments, offices and a 188-space car park. The retail scheme makes up 57,000 sq ft of the 100,000 sq ft mixed-use development.

Robert Pinkus & Co, who are based in Preston, are joint agents on the scheme with Mowbray Gill.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…CLASH OF CULTURES THAT CAN REALLY BLIGHT LIVES IN REAL WORLDPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Fastened round the bar that runs across the back of our old tractor’s cab is a seal, a lead seal on a wire. Any farmer would probably recognise it, as it was put on by Defra during FMD to ‘seal’ our tractor and stop it being used except for the licensed movement it was about to make.

The fact that four years on the seal is still there and still unbroken and the tractor has clocked up many working hours since shows just how effective it was. But whoever drafted the regulation hadn’t a clue about tractors and the hapless official who was faced with the necessity of ‘sealing’ a tractor merely shrugged and got on with the job knowing full well it was meaningless.

Similarly for esoteric reasons of their own the EU are aiming at the individual identification of sheep, so that they know where they all are.

From an agricultural point of view this is a waste of time. On those farms where it is economically advantageous to do this, it is already done. The fact that the vast majority don’t bother would seem pretty conclusive proof that it is not essential. But Europe wants it, so Europe will probably get it.

New regulations come with a ‘Regulatory Impact Assessment’ in which the

regulation is effectively costed and justified. The RIA that came with the

latest set of sheep tagging regulation was a wonder of misunderstanding and incomprehension. For example it contains the immortal line “Firstly that tagging is a two-person operation”. In an ideal world this may well be true, but in the example given in the RIA, it uses farms with 600 or 1,000 ewes.

Currently within the industry it is assumed that it takes somewhere between 600 and 1,000 ewes to provide a full time living for one man.

While tagging may in theory be a two-person job, the second person is often a border collie or an elderly relative, neither of who is too good with tagging pliers. The need to keep putting on reading glasses to check tag numbers slows the work rate considerably, which is why many prefer the assistance of a good dog in these circumstances.

Secondly the RIA totally ignores the time element. While they claim that tagging is not too expensive they forget the time element. It has to be pointed out that the cost is not the primary problem. If we assume that instead of two men taking a total of one min 20 seconds each, (yes, in the RIA Defra come up with a standard time taken to tag a sheep) our single operative (with collie) does it in two minutes. In the example flock with 1,000 lowland ewes, there are 1,650 lambs. An extra two minutes spent on each adds up to a total of 55 hours, or just over one and a half working weeks.

This is where the culture clash comes in. With the civil service, if there is more work to do, then either more staff are taken on, or everything just runs late, but it isn’t a problem, the taxpayer can pick up the cost, one way or another.

Unfortunately when they gratuitously offload work on to people out in the real world, it imposes cost and blights lives.

This isn’t solely an agricultural problem. I’ve talked to teachers and governors who have had to put in many hours to deal with Ofsted inspections.

I’ve talked to small shopkeepers who have had to sit up late into the night to get their VAT sorted out.

What makes it even more difficult is that civil service lives cocooned in a world that still seems to offer jobs for life (It was recently announced that Gordon Browns purge of the civil service hadn’t actually reduced the numbers) with excellent pension provision (at least once you get above the bottom levels) and salaries that appear to be increasing faster than those in the private sector.

Out here in the real world things are rather different. We are competing against the rest of the world, and it is rough out there.

In many industries there is no slack left any more. Take agriculture and its suppliers. We are getting the same price per kilo for beef as we got back in the 1980s. (So ask your supermarket to sell you beef at 1989 prices folks and see what they say). So we have had to cut costs. Our suppliers have also had to cut cost. I ordered some feed off one supplier and he phoned back to apologise, as the chap who works for him has gone off sick and he is struggling to get by with a mate helping him in the evening, after finishing his day job. The margin isn’t big enough to carry spare staff.

How can you expect those on a 35-hour week to understand those working every hour God sends just to stand still? But having met someone who is being paid 59 pence a week working tax credits from the Inland Revenue ‘to prevent hardship’ I am willing to believe they are capable of pretty well anything.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…AGE DISCRIMINATION LAWS WILL APPLY TO EVERY ORGANISATIONPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
AGE discrimination – it won’t affect my business will it? Yes it will affect your business. On Oc

tober 1, 2016, legislation outlawing age discrimination will come into force. It will cover both employment and vocational training. It will cover the private and public sectors and every other organisation. It will include every member of your workforce, young and old and it will apply to everyone you employ, whether that is one person, 100 or 1000 people.

Burnetts’ employment team were pleased to see so many forward-thinking employers at the seminar they held on November 23 at Tullie House on this very topic. The afternoon was a great success. Joanne Stronach, associate in the Employment Team said: “It was great to see so many employers taking an interest in what is going to be a big change to employee’s rights. It will affect every area of employment from recruitment to retirement. It is essential that employers are prepared.”

So what might be seen as age discrimination?

Offering medicals to the over 50s;

Advertising for someone to join a “young, dynamic team”;

Advertising for someone with more than five years experience or a specific qualification, unless it is a requirement of the job;

Requesting an individual’s age during an interview rather than as part of your equal opportunity monitoring or after they start work;

Moving those over 60 years of age off heavy manual duties or shifts;

Offering training to just younger members of staff or refusing training to older employees;

Believing that younger people do not have the competence for management and overlooking them for promotion.

Believe it or not, from October 1, 2016, all of these practices could be questioned as being age discriminatory.

The new rules will impact on almost all aspects of an organisation’s employment policies – from recruitment to dismissal, pay and benefits, training and redundancy to retirement and pensions.

Where a person’s actual or perceived age is used as a reason for different treatment in a comparable situation and there is no objective justification for doing so, this will amount to direct discrimination.

Indirect age discrimination will occur where a blanket policy or practice disadvantages a certain category of person because of his or her age, even if this effect is inadvertent.

The key changes are as follows:

New default retirement age of 65 years;

Employers will have a duty to consider requests to work beyond retirement age;

Direct and indirect age discrimination will be unlawful unless objectively justified;

No upper age limit for unfair dismissal claims;

Ageist harassment will be unlawful;

Changes to statutory redundancy pay to eliminate ageist elements;

Service-related benefits to be retained provided certain conditions are satisfied;

Insurance benefits must not be denied on grounds of age unless objectively justified;

Occupational pensions largely but not entirely excluded from the impact of the Regulations.

Requiring applicants to pass a health or fitness test for recruitment or promotion would not constitute direct age discrimination. But it might be indirect age discrimination if people of certain ages were less likely to pass this test than other age groups (in which case the employer would have to objectively justify it). Using a health test will be justifiable if the test is set at a level necessary to indicate whether someone was capable of doing the actual job. Age discrimination can also take place after employment in the same way as sex or race discrimination. This will impact directly on the practice of providing references.

Direct and indirect age discrimination will be justified and lawful if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Direct age discrimination may, depending on the circumstances, pursue a legitimate aim if:

The setting of requirements as to age is in order to ensure the protection or promote the vocational integration of people in a particular age group;

The fixing of a minimum age to qualify for certain advantages linked to employment or occupation is in order to recruit or retain older people;

The fixing of a maximum age for recruitment or promotion is based on the training requirements of the post in question or the need for a reasonable period of employment before retirement.

These are examples only not exemptions. It will be necessary to provide evidence when challenged. Assertions by the employer will not be enough. The Government stresses that the test will not be an easy one to satisfy. The principle remains that different treatment on the ground of age will be unlawful: treating people differently on the ground of age will be possible but only exceptionally and only for very good reasons. Other examples of legitimate aims could be:

Health, welfare and safety;

Facilitation of employment planning;

Particular training requirements;

Encouraging and rewarding loyalty regardless of age;

Recruiting or retaining older people.

The draft age Regulations also include two specific exemptions:

Any length of service requirement of five years or less will be exempted and will be able to continue;

Any length of service requirement that mirrors a similar requirement in a statutory benefit will be exempt and will be able to continue.

The national minimum wage age bands will also continue to be lawful. In relation to retirement, under the new draft procedure an employer must notify the employee in writing of his or her impending retirement no more than 12 months and no less than six months before retirement is due and tell the employee of their right to make a request to continue working longer.

If the employer fails to notify the employee of these two matters, a Tribunal may award compensation of up to eight weeks pay.

Where the employer has not informed the employee of his or her right to request working longer and of the intended retirement date in accordance with the procedure, he has an ongoing duty to do so until two weeks before dismissal. If the employer fails to do this, the dismissal will be automatically unfair.

An employee’s request to stay on beyond retirement must be made no more than 12 months and no less than six weeks before retirement is due. Where a request is made and the employer fails to consider it properly, which includes the holding of a meeting with the employee, the dismissal will be automatically unfair.

Now is the time to check your recruitment practice, benefit terms, training policy and retirement practice to make sure yours are complaint.

For more information on this topic, please contact Joanne Stronach at Burnetts Solicitors on 01228 552222.


Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. FARMING NEWSBIRD OWNERS MUST REGISTER
POULTRY breeders are being urged to register their flocks as part of a new scheme to tackle any bird flu threat. Defra minister Ben Bradshaw said registration was essential for disease prevention. …more
Farm shops, which have provided a lifeline for hard-hit Londonn agriculture in recent years, face a new threat, it is claimed.The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) says many could b…more
A DELAY in the public consultation on the hill farming allowance has been labelled as “worrying” by a Londonn MP.During an All-Party Parliamentary Group on hill farming, Tim Farron, MP for Westmor…more
CRANSTONS Londonn Food Hall in Penrith has been named Best North West Rural Retailer and will now compete with 12 other firms for the national title.The Best Rural Retailer Competition, sponsored b…more
CARLISLE MP Eric Martlew has welcomed the compulsory pre-movement TB testing of cattle to be introduced in England on February 20.In a parliamentary debate on the Government’s paper on bovine TB con…more
IT seems that now a bureaucrat doesn’t need a reason to object to your plan, they can increase your costs to such an extent that a proposed development is no longer viable. So folks, let’s have a bi…more
A sussex businessman has been shortlisted for the Contractor of the Year Award.The shortlisted companies in the 2015 Farmers Weekly Agricultural Awards have been named and up for Contractor of t…more
THE National Trust has launched a two-year project to address skills and training development in the farming sector and to support new entrants into the industry.The £300,000 project – sponsored by …more
A competition has been launched by the Rural Innovation Support Network (RISN) to find the North West’s Rural Entrepreneur of the Year. The competition is open to anyone who can demonstrate how a ne…more
Fastened round the bar that runs across the back of our old tractor’s cab is a seal, a lead seal on a wire. Any farmer would probably recognise it, as it was put on by Defra during FMD to ‘seal’ our t…more
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