Animal Aid

NEC BIRD MARKET - Solihull's standard letter

Posted 1 August 2003
Parrots at NEC show. Credit: Environmental Investigation Agency

Our supporters have inundated Solihull MBC with complaints about the NEC bird fair and are now receiving the following standard response. Our reply to the letter follows below.

Dr Dennis Wilkes
Corporate Director
PO Box 24 Council House
Solihull
West Midlands B91 3QT
Tel. 0121-704 6862
Fax 0121-704 6795
Email: slawson@solihull.gov.uk
www.solihull.gov.uk

July 2003

Our Ref. Swl/20028203

Dear Sir or Madam,

Pet Shop Licence for the National Cage and Aviary Birds Exhibition 2003

I would apologise for not responding individually to your correspondence, however, many of the comments received are similar and I hope this letter is informative. It appears that you have received information that does not give a balanced view of the legislation concerning the above act and our ability to regulate the "trade" in wildlife.

The Licensing Committee of this Council considered the application on the 31 March 2003. Every objection and other comments were placed before the committee and objections were also presented by a number of campaign groups or organisations. The 37-page report is available on http://www.solihull.gov.uk/wwwcp/licsub/2002/030331.pdf should you wish to review the full details and arguments presented.

The Licensing Sub-Committee carefully considered all of the representations and submissions made to them and believe it is lawful to issue a Licence for this application. The Council is satisfied that the licence conditions, (which will be monitored), and that the management controls are sufficient to ensure animal hygiene and welfare. Therefore there are no reasonable grounds, in law, to refuse this application.

The issue regarding the capture, importation, transport and general trade in wild birds, both domestic and international, is NOT one that is regulated under the above legislation or that this Council is responsible for. If you have comments regarding this issue you must contact the Department of Environment, Food and Rural affairs (DEFRA), your local office can be found in the telephone directory or www.defra.gov.uk

Whilst on a personal and emotional level officers and members of the Council may be sympathetic to some or all of the comments made, we must act dispassionately and in accordance with our obligations under the legislation.

Yours Sincerely,
Mr. S. Lawson
Environmental Health

Parrots at NEC show. Credit: Environmental Investigation Agency

We have replied as follows:

Mr S Lawson
Environmental Health
P O Box 24
Council House
Solihull
B91 3QT

July 30, 2003

Dear Mr Lawson

RE: National Cage & Aviary Bird Sale 2003

A number of supporters have contacted us who are dissatisfied with your standard response. Firstly, please explain specifically why you believe that these people have not received balanced information.

It seems that it is Solihull MBC's perspective which is unbalanced given that it is out of line with experienced Local Authorities and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. You claim that there were no reasonable grounds, in law, to refuse this Application and yet the Council remains evasive about its legal stance. Why is the Council not prepared to disclose the nature of the legal advice which it has sought?

If you are confident that "management controls are sufficient to ensure animal hygiene and welfare" then please explain what precise scientific and evidence-based hygiene protocols are to be implemented and will guarantee that;

a) no potentially pathogenic microbe will be present at the event;

b) no microbe can possibly be transferred from one bird to another;

c) no microbe can possibly be transferred from a bird to a human;

Please advise as to what financial compensatory mechanisms are in place on behalf of the Council to provide for any claim from the public who may become ill as a result of visiting the event or whose animals at home may become ill from their keepers visiting the event.

If Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council were to act dispassionately and in accordance with our obligations under the legislation, as it suggests, then the Council would be in concert with most other Authorities and simply disallow the event.

Yours faithfully

R Sardo
Solicitor

PS Please note that a national campaign against this event has now been officially launched (see enclosed leaflet and also www.animalaid.org.uk).

Cc Chief Executive
Legal department
All elected members

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