(Attachment: 5)Report - Meeting Dates, Agendas and Minutes

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PART 1 – PUBLIC DOCUMENT
AGENDA ITEM No.
8
TITLE OF REPORT: CIRCUSES USING PERFORMING ANIMALS ON COUNCIL
OWNED OR CONTROLLED LAND
REPORT OF THE HEAD OF HOUSING AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
PORTFOLIO HOLDER: CLLR BERNARD LOVEWELL
1.
PURPOSE OF REPORT
1.1
This report seeks a resolution regarding the Council’s approach to the use of its
land in connection with travelling circuses employing performing animals.
2.
FORWARD PLAN
2.1
This report does not contain a recommendation on a key decision and has not been
referred to in the Forward Plan.
3.
BACKGROUND
3.1
The national policy position
3.1.1 The Minister with responsibility for animal welfare announced in the House of
Commons in March 2006 that the Government intended to introduce Regulations
under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to ban the use, in travelling circuses, of certain
non-domesticated species whose welfare needs cannot be satisfactorily met in that
environment. A Circus Working Group was convened to consider this issue and to
provide advice to the government. Members of this Group include representatives
of animal welfare organisations, the circus industry, other governmental
departments and those who have relevant expertise in the welfare of wild animals.
The Circus Working Group was specifically tasked with considering the evidence so
as to decide whether or not wild animals should be banned from being used in
travelling circuses. They were asked to focus on evidence on the transportation and
housing needs of wild animals, as these were considered to be the factors that
differentiated wild animals in circuses from wild animals being kept in other
situations.
The first report of the Group (the ‘Radford Report’), published in October 2007,
commented that the number of non-domesticated animals used in circuses in the
United Kingdom is less than 50. There are currently four circuses that use nondomesticated animals in their acts; there are five further circuses that use
domesticated animals only (mainly dogs and horses). The Group recognised that
performances by some wild animals in travelling circuses are not compatible with
meeting their welfare needs. However, it did cite that the “Academic Panel
concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of
animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in
other captive environments”.
3.1.2 Throughout 2008/9 Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
embarked on a feasibility exercise to assess whether it would be practical to
regulate the use of wild animals in circuses. Having recently completed the
feasibility study, DEFRA has agreed that the next step is to issue a public
consultation on the protection of the welfare of wild animals in travelling circuses.
COUNCIL (4.2.10)
3.1.3 On 21st December 2009 DEFRA published a consultation document concerning the
future regulation of wild animals in travelling circuses – this document is attached as
Appendix 1. The consultation paper focuses on the following principal options:



A complete ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses
Voluntary self-regulation of the use of wild animals in circuses
Compulsory statutory regulation of the use of wild animals in circuses
Consultation closes on 15th March 2010, thereafter DEFRA will announce its
proposals on the way forward.
3.2
Customer contact
3.2.1 In the period October to November 2009 the Council received five formal
complaints regarding the last visit of a circus to Butts Close, Hitchin.
3.3
Council decision-making to date
3.3.1
A recent thorough search of the Council’s records has not produced any document
prior to Cabinet’s deliberations in 2008 (see 3.4 below) concerning a formal
decision relating to the regulation of circuses on Council owned or controlled land.
Accordingly, prior to December 2008 the Council had no formally adopted policy on
this matter.
3.3.2
On 16th December 2008 Cabinet considered a presentation by the Portfolio Holder
for Housing and Environmental Health concerning the possible implementation of a
number of animal welfare measures contained within a charter by an animal welfare
group, Animal Aid. One of these proposed measures concerned the ‘Banning
Circuses with Animals from Council Land’. Members resolved that a decision on
this particular matter be deferred until the publication of the Circus Working Group’s
report on the future regulation of this sector.
3.3.3
At Council on the 3rd December 2009, a motion was moved ‘that the Council
agrees to the necessary action to prevent the use of Council land by circuses using
performing animals’. Following a brief debate upon the item the mover and
seconded agreed to withdraw the motion. It was resolved that the Portfolio Holder
for Housing and Environmental Health investigate the history of this matter and
arrange for officers to provide a full report on the issue to the next Council meeting.
This report flows from that resolution.
4.
ISSUES AND CONSIDERATIONS
4.1
At present there are no specific animal welfare regulations for wild animals in
travelling circuses. However, wild animals used in travelling circuses do fall under
the general scope of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Accordingly, the range of
options available to the Council to control circuses using animals is limited to a) the
enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (in conjunction, et al, with
Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service – the regulator of animal
welfare issues in the County), and/or b) refusing letting requests from circuses
using animals for Council owned or controlled land.
4.2
DEFRA is currently consulting on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses only
as it has already concluded that the use of domesticated animals in circuses is not,
de facto, detrimental to their welfare. In any event, these animals are already
afforded protection under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
COUNCIL (4.2.10)
5.
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS
5.1
Section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000 empowers local authorities to do
anything which is for the social, economic or environmental well being of their area.
This extends to managing its property for the purpose of achieving those ends.
5.2
The terms of reference for Cabinet empower it to make decisions where a policy or
strategy does not exist and to prepare and agree to implement policies and strategies
other than those reserved to Council.
5.3
A number of different pieces of legislation cover the protection of animal welfare
generally. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Performing Animals (Regulation
Act) 1925 are particularly relevant to animals used in travelling circuses. The former
introduced a new ‘duty of care’ for any animal under the control of man, which
renders owners and keepers responsible for ensuring that the welfare needs of their
animals are met. This duty applies to animals kept in circuses just as to pets,
farmed animals and other domestic and companion animals. The Performing
Animals (Regulation Act) 1925 requires trainers and exhibitors of such animals to
be registered with the local authority where it is situated during the winter months.
Under this Act, the police and officers of local authorities (who may include a vet)
have powers to enter premises where animals are being trained and exhibited. If
cruelty and neglect is detected, magistrates' courts can prohibit or restrict the
training or exhibition of the animals and suspend or cancel the registration granted
under the Act.
5.4
In the absence of current regulation of, and a sound licensing system for, the
circuses industry the only option open to the Authority at the moment is to impose
terms and conditions on the letting of its open spaces; these restrictions could seek
to secure the welfare of animals whilst on Council land.
6.
FINANCIAL AND RISK IMPLICATIONS
6.1
The recommendation contained within this report does not have any financial
implication.
6.2
However, should a ban on circuses employing animals, either on a local or national
basis, come to pass then there may be a financial implication for the Council.
However, this will very much depend on whether circuses will continue to trade
without the use of regulated animals. The Council received £2,250 in 2007/8 and
£2,030 in 2008/9 and 2009/10 from the hiring of its land in connection with a circus
employing animals. Accordingly, in the worst case the Council may loose such
future income.
7.
HUMAN RESOURCE AND EQUALITIES IMPLICATIONS
7.1
There are no direct human resource or equalities implications for North
Hertfordshire District Council arising from this report.
8.
CONSULTATION WITH EXTERNAL ORGANISATIONS AND WARD MEMBERS
8.1
There has been no formal consultation with either external organisations or Ward
Members in connection with the contents of this report. Such consultation would
have precluded the conclusion of this report in readiness for its consideration by
Council in February 2010.
COUNCIL (4.2.10)
9.
RECOMMENDATION
9.1
That a decision regarding the letting of Council owned/controlled land in connection
with circuses using animals be deferred until the Department of Environment Food
and Rural Affairs has made known its intentions regarding a national regulatory
framework for this activity.
10.
REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION
10.1
In the absence of objective evidence concluding that the current use of animals
(non-domesticated or otherwise) in circuses is detrimental to their welfare it is
difficult to recommend a course of action that would curtail this form of
entertainment within the District.
10.2
Should DEFRA develop a regulatory framework governing travelling circuses, it will
be based on a national approach following wide consultation and based on the
contribution by industry recognised experts.
11.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED
11.1
The adoption of a policy that restricts the use of Council owned/controlled as
regards circuses. Any such policy could prohibit the use of all animals or only those
that species that are considered to be non-domesticated. Should Members be
minded to pursue this option it is suggested that the matter be referred to Cabinet
for the consideration of a detailed report on how such a restriction may be
implemented in practice.
12.
APPENDICES
12.1
Appendix A - Consultation on the Use of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses,
DEFRA 2009.
13.
CONTACT OFFICERS
13.1
Giovanna Silverio (report author)
Licensing and Enforcement Manager
Tel: 01462 474 478
Email: [email protected]
13.2
Andy Godman
Head of Housing and Environmental Health
Tel: 01462 474 293
Email: [email protected]
13.3
Katie White
Senior Lawyer (Legal Services)
Tel: 01462 474 315
Email: [email protected]
13.4
Jodie Penfold
Group Accountant
Tel: 01462 474 332
Email: [email protected]
13.5
Kerry Shorrocks
Head of Human Resources
Tel: 01462 474 224
Email: [email protected]
COUNCIL (4.2.10)
13.6
Peter Underwood
Community Facilities Manager
Tel: 01462 474 669
Email: [email protected]
13.7
Lynn Saville
Head of Community and Cultural Services
Tel: 01462 474 530
Email: [email protected]
13.8
Ken Rowe
Animal Warden
Tel: 01462 474549
Email: [email protected]
14.
BACKGROUND PAPERS
14.1
Cabinet Minutes – 16th December 2008
14.2
Council Minutes – 3rd December 2009
14.3
Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses
October 2007
COUNCIL (4.2.10)
- Report of the Circuses Working Group
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COUNCIL (4.2.10)
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