The Meat Hygiene Service is closing its five regional offices with the loss of 107 jobs in a move widely applauded in the meat industry.

Offices in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Wolverhampton, Taunton and York will close in an "efficiency transformation programme". Paper-based management of teams of vets and inspectors by the regions will be replaced by a computerised system expected to save £16m by 2011/12.

"This is the first of many steps that will help deliver a more effective regime and stop the spiralling costs of the past few years," said Stuart Roberts, director of the British Meat Processors Association.

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