TORY MP Nigel Evans has called on rural affairs supremo Margaret Beckett to provide a survival package for the Ribble Valley, ravaged by the foot and mouth epidemic.

And Lancashire County Council has stressed that financial assistant from the government was vital.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Evans, vice chairman of the Conservative Party, said the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs -- who was in the Ribble Valley this week to speak to farmers -- should introduce aid to the crippled farming and tourism industries.

He added that a recovery package would then be needed to restore those industries to their previous level.

The Ribble Valley MP went on: "Although the Secretary of State's response did give a glimmer of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, we must continue to hold the minister to account and make sure that this happens as soon as possible.

"She will be judged by her actions, not by words. She has listened to my farmers and tourism chiefs and they will be expecting a package of help soon."

Lancashire county councillor Tim Ormrod, chairman of the Lancashire Foot and Mouth Task Force, and Lancashire's chief trading standards officer Jim Potts, were on hand to listen to the rural affairs minister when she visited Gisburn this week.

Coun Ormrod said: "We have suffered badly and are still seeing outbreaks of the disease. Communities such as those in the Ribble Valley have suffered economically and emotionally.

"It is vitally important we get the financial assistance we need to help these communities put into action the recovery plans on which everyone is working so hard.

"The farming, tourism and allied industries in Lancashire play a vital role in the economy of the whole county."