Goldfish prizes to be banned on council-owned land

goldfish

The Liberal Democrat group originally submitted the motion for an officer’s report on the feasibility of introducing new rules or by-laws to stop goldfish being given as prizes being given at any council event, on council controlled premises and anywhere in Stevenage - Credit: Rheyan Glenn Dela Cruz/Pexels

Live animals such as goldfish will be banned from being handed out as prizes on council land in Stevenage.

The decision by private traders to hand out goldfishes during the Charter Fair in September was criticised by councillors from all parties.

However, the council were powerless to stop the practice during the event.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the only offence in relation to the giving of live animals as rewards is if the recipient is under 16 and not accompanied by an adult.

A motion to investigate what the council can do to prevent similar prizes being given in the future was submitted to a meeting of the full council on October 13.

The Liberal Democrat group originally submitted the motion for an officer’s report on the feasibility of introducing new rules or by-laws to stop the prizes being given at any council event, on council controlled premises and anywhere in the borough.

The leading Labour group submitted an amendment which prohibits any hirer from giving out live animals as prizes on land owned or managed by the council. 

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They added that they will write to the government asking for a review of “outdated” legislation on the issue.

The amendment continued that the council would liaise with Hertfordshire County Council Trading Standards officers to ensure current legislation is enforced.

Proposing the amendment, Cllr Loraine Rossati said: “Pets should only be added to a home or family after examining the care they’ll need, not just given away as a fairground prize. The cruelty inherent in this practice cannot be understated.

“Animals ask only to live, and far too often animals used as prizes or gifts at public events are given to people who don’t have the equipment, experience or wherewithal, to look after them properly. Seeking a feasibility report is laudable but an unnecessary delay in my view, writing to the government to seek changes in legislation and liaising with HCC is all well and good but I think we can and must be bolder than that. 

“A number of councils across the UK have introduced outright bans on pets as prizes, we have the power to prevent this practice on land we own or manage and we should use that power to send a clear message that safeguarding animal welfare is a priority for Stevenage.”

However, Liberal Democrat Councillor Robin Parker said his original motion was stronger than the amendment, as it would not cover private property elsewhere in the borough. 

He added that he hoped that council’s solicitors would be able to answer his questions on if there are any other options available to the local authority, after saying the Labour motion had “too many loopholes, and too many unanswered questions”.

The amended motion passed during the council meeting on October 13.

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