Tuesday, 28 June 2016

No Place For Exploitative Entertainment


Circus Mondao, one of the few animal circuses left in the UK, was in Aberystwyth recently, where we were treated to the view of camels shivering in the pouring rain. The circus tried to deflect attention from their practices, and unfortunately the Cambrian News quoted them without bothering to check facts: for example, the Circus Licensing Panel of DEFRA (hardly known for showing much care for animals) had a number of concerns about Circus Mondao as recently as March 2016. The DEFRA report says there are "concerns about insufficient outdoor exercise space", "concerns about the amount of exercise being provided" and concerns about poor record keeping in relation to exercise records and veterinary visits for their zebra, two camels and two reindeer.

In 2012 the UK Government said that it would implement a ban on wild animals in circuses, but thanks to persistent blocking by three Conservative MPs this ban hasn't been put in place yet; even if they do go ahead with it we may well need a separate bill for Wales as animal welfare is a devolved issue. There are currently only two UK circuses with wild animals, Peter Jolly’s Circus and Circus Mondao.

The Welsh Government really should implement a ban on wild animals in circuses in Wales. Many local authority councils (including Ceredigion, I think) already ban wild animal circuses on public land, but it still means such circuses can operate in Wales on private land, as has happened here with Mondao. The majority of the population want to see a total ban, and this is backed by commitments in political manifestos by the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru. The British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA back a ban on wild animals in circuses. More general animal circus information can be found on the ADI site or this site.

Circuses can never simulate the natural habitat of a wild animal. There are no educational or conservation reasons for animal circuses. They are only aimed at profit and entertainment, neither of which are justifiable. Other countries across Europe and the world have banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Instead of exploiting animals, we should encourage and support human circuses such as the amazing Welsh circus No Fit State.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

EU Referendum - What Next?

In the EU referendum the other day, Ceredigion was one of the few Welsh counties that had a majority who voted to remain within the EU. Sadly not enough to swing the overall vote, but it was a strong statement.

Still, the UK ref results were so close it is surprising that the Government seems to be contemplating acting on it. The referendum was not legally binding and nor was it decisive – 51.9% vs 48.1% would not be enough of a majority to convict in a court of law, so it shouldn’t be enough to enact such a huge change; and because a third of people did not vote, that 2% difference is far less than 2% of the UK population. Many people are now stating that they would change their vote if they had the chance again, especially those who wanted to make a point but didn’t expect it to actually lead to such a huge change. There certainly isn’t a clear lead one way or the other, which is why it's surprising that many people are acting as if leaving the EU as a result is a foregone conclusion. It isn’t. An ideal way forward would be to try and fix some EU issues that people have problems with (e.g. the EU’s secret and undemocratic TTIP negotiations; concerns such as the huge subsidies to animal agriculture when there are more important roles that are not subsidised, and so on). Then the UK could hold another referendum in a year or so, hopefully with a clearer majority one way or the other. That would be better than rash decisions based on an incredibly marginal voting difference. Many people were annoyed at only having the choice of leaving or staying – many want to stay, but also to see some reform, and that was not a choice the UK citizens were given. It should have been.

Well over a million people have already signed this petition requesting a second referendum. There is plenty of room for adopting this approach – some of the options are covered here. Let's hope politicians support this more reasonable reaction to the results of the EU referendum vote, which were indicative and something to be learned from, but certainly not convincing enough to drive a radical and potentially regrettable action such as leaving the EU as a result of it.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Passing The Buck

We've been forwarded details of another example of environmental ineptitude (or neglect) from Ceredigion County Council and the Welsh Government. We've been given permission to reproduce the details here. It's certainly a typical case.

A number of people had reported shopping trolleys dumped in the river at Aberystwyth. Ceredigion County Council are responsible for dealing with flytipping and litter in Ceredigion (a job they fail at miserably). The trolleys were in shallow water by the edge - a Council worker could have safely waded in and removed them easily at that point.

A number of reports of shopping trolleys in the river 
at Aberystwyth - why wasn't the Council doing anything?
From FixMyStreet.

When the trolleys were found to be still in the water it was followed up with Ceredigion County Council, who responded by saying they weren't responsible for it, and to try contacting Natural Resources Wales. They didn't even forward the details on, just washed their hands of the issue.