A TOWN council has hit out at a rural forum for approving the “slaughtering” of badgers without, it says, gaining approval from the district.
Princes Risborough Town Council criticised the Wycombe District Rural Area Forum for sending a letter to ta government minister giving full support of the culling of diseased badgers with bovine tuberculosis.
Councillor Reg Orlser said: “When someone is called to a forum it is a time when people get around the table and discuss matters. This seems to have gone a bit further than that in this case.
The minutes from the meeting held in October read: “Bryan Edgley added that he welcomed DEFRA’s new stance in initiating a science led badger control programme in respect of tackling bovine TB. He asked that the Forum as a whole support a letter to the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food (Jim Paice) encouraging this approach. This was agreed unanimously by the forum.”
A letter was then signed by WDC Chairman Bill Bendyshe-Brown, as the Chairman of the Rural Forum, and sent to the Mr Paice in response to a national consultation run by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Defra is currently running a consultation on the Government’s approach to tackling bovine tuberculosis and a badger control policy and it was brought to the forum's attention as an interested party.
Cllr Orsler added: “I found it very disturbing that a forum that should be discussing things and sending it back to Wycombe District Council, signed and dashed off a letter saying that WDC as a whole is in favour of slaughtering badgers.”
John Coombs added: “I don't like the idea of a person speaking for the whole district when it hasn't been discussed by the whole district. Forums seems to have got this idea that all badgers are evil- kill the badgers.
“I think they are wonderful creatures- I really do.”
The forum is a twice yearly meeting of farmers from the area, rural partners such as the National Farmers' Union, Defra, English Nature, Chilterns AONB Board and Thames Valley Police, individuals representing rural interests in the district and district councillors. An invitation to each meeting is extended to all parish and town councils.
Chairman Alan Turner added: “There are two points- first is whether or not we are for or against killing the badgers it might be a bit out of our remit. Our point is that if people are making decisions on behalf of district without consulting us.”
The town councillors could have attended the October meeting but Cllr Turner said: “There are so many of these different forums and groups. There is too many to attend all of them.”
Wycombe District Council spokesman Catherine Spalton said: “The forum provides an opportunity for all those with a vested interest in rural affairs in the Wycombe district to come together and share ideas and information.”
She added: “At the members' request, the chairman of the forum - who is always the chairman of the council and so changes every year - wrote to the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food in support of the proposal. The letter was sent on behalf of the forum and not on behalf of Wycombe District Council.
“While no representatives from Princes Risborough Town Council attended the rural forum meeting, there is still an opportunity for them to submit their own views on the proposal by December 8.”