Tuesday, 9 April 2013
TDC Conservative Group Statement on Live Exports from Ramsgate
The recent press release from Labour cabinet member Cllr Michelle Fenner gives the misleading impression that efforts to stop live animal exports through Ramsgate was a Labour initiative. It was not.
This unpleasant trade started during the time when TDC was Conservative led. Immediately all avenues to stop the trade were explored. At the time of Labour's motion, this initiative was underway, so council was already doing what the motion called for, hence the unanimous support for it.
Councillor Bayford says “My administration took legal advice, consulted DEFRA and researched what had happened to other local authorities when they had tried to stop live animal export activity in their areas. I also had a meeting with the then Agriculture minister, Jim Paice. All the intelligence we obtained made it clear that, given the legal 'open' status of Ramsgate Port, the council could not lawfully stop the trade. Further, the other councils who had tried before found themselves unable to do so and ultimately saddled with considerable cost.
As a result, despite being under considerable pressure from both the animal rights lobby and political opponents and having ourselves a real desire to see an end to the harrowing sights of animals in distress, we believed that the responsible course of action was to continue our lobby for a change in Government but not to ban the trade, as we were certain that this would lead to TDC facing massive costs.
Unfortunately, our view has been proven correct. Thanet District Council has been deemed to have acted unlawfully, has already incurred legal costs of £80,000 and has a damages claim against it of £1 million.
Cllr Fenner calls on 'like minded people to keep a united front'. That is a fair sentiment but a local authority has no business putting over a million pounds of residents’ money at risk in support of a cause, however worthy”