Saturday, December 14, 2013

In Deep Sheep

It's not good news by any measure; the court case that has Thanet District Council facing damages of over £1 million for taking steps to block what many regard as the vile and inhuman trade in animal exports from the port of Ramsgate.

Of course, I've written about this before and the very real dangers of taking a moral stand with council taxpayers money. I recall several intense discussion among the Conservative Cabinet about the subject and even meeting Laura Sandys and Roger Gale at Westminster, before they went off to represent our problem to Jim Paice, the Minister, who I also happen to know.

From memory, we knew that both Portsmouth and Dover had attempted to stop the trade, had found themselves in court as a consequence and had lost very badly. We also knew that regardless of expressions of good intention from our own Government, we were at the mercy of EU Law - yet again - and as we all know Brussels trumps Westminster these days on virtually every domestic issue one can think of.

While I admire the courage of Clive Hart and Michelle Fenner taking a moral, animal welfare position, following that appalling episode, one day, in Ramsgate harbour, a local Council can't, as we have seen rather too often under the present Labour administration, choose to pursue political and moral crusades with taxpayers money. A local council is under an obligation to work within and interpret the law. It can't ignore it to suit a particular purpose or agenda, however laudable this might appear.

And now we are in a mess, 'In Deep Sheep' to toy with a well-known phrase and I think back to a Council meeting, two years ago, with Animal Rights protesters inside and outside the meeting and where the 'nasty' Conservatives were pilloried, by one member of the Labour group after another, for insisting that we could not take arbitrary and unilateral action against the Jolene and the animal exporter, outside of the law.

I'm sure that many readers, like me, feel very strongly indeed over needless cruelty and animal suffering and there is so much I would like to write but cannot for fear of ending-up alongside the Council in the High Court.

All of us are familiar with that famous expression that 'Evil prospers when good men look the other way' and most of us, equally recognise that animal welfare is a peculiarly British concept, that carries very little real legal weight in Europe the further South you go. It's just another one of those quaint, high-minded concepts we have surrendered to Brussels. While the Minister may wring his hands, nobody this side of the English Channel, has apparently any real powers to prevent it, even when the excesses are visibly at their most flagrant.

Staying with the Channel briefly, I may have to fly over to Calais, next week, to take photographs of 'The Jungle' again. In fact, I did this a couple of years ago for the papers, when the French police had a crack-down and dismantled it in an effort to disperse the refugees. However and according to BBC's South-east Today,the pathetic-looking tented village is back with a vengeance with a small army of desperate young men, from countries, like Syria and Afghanistan, gathering on the other side and the French are calling on us to take them in.

There's supposed to be a big storm coming-in again over the next twenty-four hours, so I may not be flying for some time. I suggest you tie-down any small dogs and children and from the radar chart, have your 'wellies' ready by the front door.


William Epps said...

Apart from the potentially serious blow to Thanet's finances, this further demonstrates the increasing need to take back control of our own national affairs.

Somewhat ironic that a Labour administration who chose to defy European law at great risk to taxpayers money, should then refuse a debate on our continued relationship with the EU and the need for a referendum.

Tony said...

I wonder if the Council will decide to settle out of court, as they did previously, or have they grown some round things that bounce and stand their ground?

Barry James said...

If it goes the wrong way for TDC will it reduce services or will it come out of reserves?

Simon Moores said...

A fundamental problem facing Europe today as you will have seen reported in the media, involves the food chain and the involvement of organised crime in countries across the EU, where regulations are ignored and criminals thrive

Anonymous said...

The free movement of goods through harbours such as Ramsgate is also guaranteed by section 33 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847.

Tony said...

Anon 4:12, that is one of the main arguments. Sheep should not be classed as "goods". They have been assessed, even by the EU, as "sentient" animals.