Shropshire Council bids to stop goldfish being offered as 'outdated' fairground prizes

Fairground operators are set to be banned from offering goldfish as prizes on Shropshire Council-owned land.

The days of goldfish being offered as fairground prizes on Shropshire Council land could soon be over
The days of goldfish being offered as fairground prizes on Shropshire Council land could soon be over

The council is proposing to bring in a new policy – which will extend to all kinds of pets and all circumstances – following an RSPCA campaign last year.

A report to be considered by cabinet members next week says the move is in the best interests of animal welfare and recognises changing public attitudes.

If cabinet backs the recommendations, the council will also support the charity’s national campaign urging the Government to outlaw the practice.

The report, by Mark Barrow, director of place, says the policy is being considered after a resident contacted their local councillor to express concern about the giving of pets as prizes on council land.

The RSPCA says the giving of live animals at fairs and community events does not consider the welfare of the animals and can lead to the release of unwanted pets into the environment.

The charity also says the prize winners are often unprepared and lack understanding of the care the animals require.

Mr Barrow’s report says: “By issuing an outright ban of such activities on all council owned or operated land and properties, the council will send a clear message of its commitment to ensure the welfare of animals and help reinforce the message that these practices are no long desirable in our community.”

It adds that a number of other councils across the country have already taken the step, including Caerphilly, the Vale of Glamorgan, Torridge, Sunderland, Stevenage and the London Assembly.

The ban will see a new clause inserted into licenses and hire agreements prohibiting the giving of live animals as prizes.

Anyone found to breach the ban would be evicted and have their licence or hire agreement revoked.

Mr Barrow says that while no such ban has yet been tested in law, the council has set a precedent by implementing a ban on the release of sky/Chinese lanterns in 2018.

The report says: “This decision serves to demonstrate that the council had previously banned, on council-owned land, such practices that are detrimental to the environment and the welfare of people and animals and, also, had proactively sought the extension of that ban to the whole of the country by urging the UK government to do likewise.”

It concludes: “The council is presented with an opportunity to ban outrightly the giving of live animals as prizes on its owned land, in support of the RSCPA campaign and send a message to the public that such outdated practices are no longer condoned in Shropshire Council.

“As a responsible and representative public body, the council will also urge the UK government to enact laws that will see that end of the practice of giving live animals as prizes which have little regards for the animal welfare.

“In acknowledgement of change of attitude among the public and more public awareness, the council will ensure that its policies reflect this position when issuing licences and hiring out its assets.”

The report will be considered by cabinet at a meeting next Wednesday, January 19.

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