On Friday I attended a meeting organised by my friend and longstanding anti-live animal exports protestor, Reg Bell. The meeting had been arranged to review the 5 year old campaign to ban the brutal animal export trade, not just from Ramsgate, but from every port in the country. But this was no ordinary meeting. Reg being an extremely persuasive person, was able to bring together under one roof in Thanet, some of the most influential voices in animal welfare in the country.The new Chief Executive of the RSPCA, Jeremy Cooper was there along with Daphne Harris Chair of RSPCA Trustees and Chris Wainwright the RSPCAs Director of Communications and External Relations. Emma Slawinski Director of Campaigning from Compassion in World Farming attended as did Thanet South MP Craig MacKinlay and Ian and Yvonne Birchall from Kent Against Live Exports.
The meeting discussed Craig’s 10 Minute Rule Bill which amends the 1847 Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act, to allow local authority owned ports to use their discretion and ban live exports from their ports. Craig’s Bill reaches its second reading stage on Friday 4th November. If successful the Bill will then go on to committee stage, third reading and then hopefully becomes law. But even if it becomes law, we will still have to wait for Brexit for it to have a practical effect. Nevertheless it’s a big step towards the eventual ending of this nasty and cruel trade. Both RSPCA and Compassion said that they backed Craig’s Bill and that their supporters across the country have been contacting their MPs to ask them to vote for it!The meeting then discussed the enforcement of existing EU animal transport welfare regulations. Everyone agreed that pitifully few resources have been invested in policing the regulations and that cuts in central and local government spending are likely to make an unacceptable situation even worse. However, Brexit, or no Brexit, it was still possible for the UK Government to introduce our own legally enforceable national laws and regulations limiting live animal transport times to 8 hours a day. In fact Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Germany have already announced that this is something they are thinking doing themselves. We all felt that an 8 hour limit would put an end to live exports to the EU, or make it so expensive to comply that the exporters would simply give up. This is a subject which the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming, Craig MacKinlay MP and local campaigners felt was worth exploring in much more detail. It was agreed to establish a regular co-ordination meeting at which all parties would monitor the situation in Ramsgate and explore the development of Parliamentary actions to change our laws and effectively ban live animal exports for slaughter once and for all.
It’s not often I come away from meeting thinking wow I have been part of something which will make massive and profound difference! But thanks to the efforts of my friend Reg Bell a meeting was arranged which brought together all the key players in the UK animal welfare movement and this meeting, I believe, will kick start a co-ordinated drive to restrict live animal transport to 8 hours day ending forever the cruel, barbaric scenes we have witnessed and continue to witness at Ramsgate Port.
As my one of my heroes LKJ once sang “we’re making history”