THE closure of waterways, tow paths and public footpaths as a precaution against spreading foot and mouth disease is the latest blow to hit Upton business people.

Activity at Upton Marina has been severely curtailed by the British Waterways ban and the Upton Severn Area Rescue Unit has had to restrict training sessions to base.

Melanie Davis, of Severn Leisure, said their river cruises could go ahead, provided they start and finish at Upton and no one goes ashore in between.

The cancellation of Cheltenham Gold Cup week has had a serious effect on hotel trade and traders hoping for a good summer season after a disastrous winter are now bracing themselves for a further quiet spell.

"We're going to have a dreadful summer if this crisis continues. Foot an mouth is the third "F" word to hit us, after the fuel crisis and three floods," said Lyndsey Evans, of Upton Tourism and Trade Association.

"For me, it's been an appalling year to start a business in Upton, with three natural disasters."