Downton Abbey star Peter Egan, who plays Lady Rose's father Shrimpie Flintshire, has backed campaigners opposed to controversial plans for a beagle farm in East Yorkshire.
The American-based owners of the exisitng facility at Grimston have announced they intend to appeal against the refusal to grant planning permission to extend the premises.
Today the TV and film star, best known for his role in the hit TV sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles, signed a petition opposing the appeal.
He said: "“I am deeply shocked that Beagles, the most docile and people friendly of all dogs, are so cruelly abused and their tender nature taken advantage of for experiments that are of no benefit to humans._
"Current science proves that animals are not able to predict the responses of human patients. So lets stop experimenting on these animals. _
"They are our companions and have done enough already to help us evolve and keep us safe in so many areas. _
"For example, protecting our borders. guiding the blind. finding survivors in disaster zones. reducing our blood pressure, not to mention the huge benefits they contribute to anyone who has an animal in their daily lives.”_
Animal rights campaigners are urging the Government to reject an appeal for a new beagle farm in Yorkshire.
The controversial plans attracted tens of thousands of objections before being turned down by East Riding Council’s planning committee last year after hearing it would blight the lives of residents in the village of Grimston.
But now the owners of the controversial animal research facility, have appealed to the Planning Inspectorate. It says the new building is needed to remain competitive, safeguard existing jobs and create ten more and “improve animal welfare.”
The plans, which campaigners said would have seen as many 300 breeding dogs - each producing litters of five - housed at Grimston, saw opposition from celebrities including Ricky Gervais, naturalist Chris Packham and radio presenter Mark Radcliffe.
Jan Creamer , the Chief executive of the National Anti-Vivisection Society said: " Dogs are pumped with fertilisers, pesticides and drugs and killed after suffering in crude and painful experiments. Poisoning dogs when more sophisticated scientific methods are available is unjustifiable.
“The Government has promised to reduce the number of animal experiments, so we urge the Planning Inspectorate to once again reject Bantin & Kingman Universal’s plans to breed beagles in Yorkshire for experiments.”
But a spokesman for the Grimston operation said without the development the future of the facility “will be put in doubt - with possibly severe knock-on effects for jobs.”
A report out today reveals that up to a quarter of rural Yorkshire households are living in fuel poverty
The Rural VCS Policy Group highlights shocking figures that a quarter of households in particular areas within Yorkshire are living in fuel poverty.
The districts with the highest score in terms of fuel poverty include Hambleton (20.6%); Scarborough (22.7%); Craven (23.6%); Richmondshire (24.3%) and Ryedale (26%).
According to Age UK, health issues associated with fuel poverty cost the NHS £1.36bn annually across the UK.
Children and young people and the elderly are most affected by fuel poverty. Living in a cold home more than doubles a child's chances of suffering respiratory problems like asthma, and teenagers are four times more likely to suffer mental health problems.
Older people living in cold homes are at higher risk of death and illnesses like heart and respiratory disease, and older people are three times more likely to die in the winter in a cold home as in a warm one.
Judy Robinson, chief executive at Involve Yorkshire & Humber, said: "Fuel poverty in rural areas has a detrimental impact on the health and well being of residents. Voluntary organisations can support people to find alternatives.'"_
Rural areas make up 81% of the Yorkshire and Humber region. _Fuel costs in rural areas are often higher than in urban areas but incomes are lower.
Households in rural areas are at a much greater risk of being classed as being fuel poor due to the age and type of homes people live in. 56% of homes in rural areas are in the lowest energy efficiency bracket, compared with just 7% in urban areas.
Simon Bowens, Friends of the Earth, said: "Identifying sources of heating that remove communities away from fossil fuels is to be recommended, fossil fuel prices will in the long term increase, further compounding the issues around fuel poverty and the health problems associated. _
"Where appropriate bio mass boilers, ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps and hydro schemes should all be explored in the remoter rural areas especially as part of community-led planning for new development."
Members of the public are being urged to have their say on plans for the future of children's and maternity services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.
They are considering scrapping the overnight paediatric and special baby care service. Tonight's meeting is to be held at Colburn Leisure Centre. Meetings will begin with an exhibition and video at 5.15pm, followed by presentations and questions at 6.15pm.
Dr Vicky Pleydell, a local GP and the ShadowAccountable Officer for the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby ClinicalCommissioning Group, said:
“We are looking forward to meeting with local people as part of our public engagement on the future of children’s and maternity services at the Friarage hospital...we have arranged this series of public meetings to allow people to gain a greater understanding of the current situation"
People from every corner of Yorkshire and Humberside have signed up to say 'No' to the Bill which, as well as costing millions to implement at a time when the NHS has to save £20 billion, will open up the NHS to competition and increase the number of private patients hospitals can treat.
Unison members from across the region will attend a rally in London today, calling for the Government's Health and Social Care Bill to be dropped. The controversial plans involve scrapping the county's primary care trusts and giving control of NHS budgets to groups of GPs instead.