Always open and transparent

PUBLISHED: 11:32 20 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:32 15 June 2010

As Chairman of Axminster Town Council's Amenities Committee, I write in response to David Bowles' wildly inaccurate and scurrilous letter in last week's issue. Our January 12 meeting was fully open to members of the public and press, and properly advertis

As Chairman of Axminster Town Council's Amenities Committee, I write in response to David Bowles' wildly inaccurate and scurrilous letter in last week's issue.Our January 12 meeting was fully open to members of the public and press, and properly advertised on the 4 noticeboards throughout the parishes. There were no members of the public present, and any would only have been excluded from the last item on the agenda which dealt with a contractor's quotation. The results of our discussion are recorded in the minutes. This is usual and proper practice for all authorities nationally. The minutes of this meeting were passed and accepted unanimously by the full town council on Monday, February 11, with only a minor typographical amendment.Now to the regulations themselves. The health, welfare and safety of any livestock on our property is of the utmost importance. We have a duty under the new Animal Welfare Act to ensure that animals are kept properly, and the people of Axminster would be far from happy if chickens were ill treated on what is in essence their land. Mr Bowles says that only the most committed prospective poultry keepers are likely to keep chickens. We want nothing less than those who are fully committed, and the regulations reflect that. There should be no compromise where animal welfare is at stake. These regulations are similar to others used throughout the country, and very much like Seaton Town Council's own! It is ironic that someone who supports Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall's stance on poultry welfare should expect us to be any less concerned. As to the time it takes for approval to be given, once a written request is received, I would normally, under delegated powers, give permission for the applicant to go ahead, and once any structures are ready, an extraordinary committee meeting would be held to consider final approval. This should be within seven days of being advised that the structure is ready for occupation. There is, nor has there ever been any thought of the Millwey Gang having to re-apply for permission to keep poultry on site, as their structure and practices have already been given full town council approval as part of our support for the Chicken Run programmes. On the issue of openess and accountability, the amenities committee and the town council have always been transparent in its actions. Should Mr Bowles wish to witness this, may I suggest he attends our next town council meeting on March 10, or better still our inaugural annual allotment holders' meeting on April 21. Everyone is welcome, not just tenants. Axminster Town Council has been fully supportive of Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall since he came to town, and continues to be so; he and his business are an asset to Axminster, which we should rightly be proud of. I do hope this puts an end to the matter, and we can now all move forward. Jeremy WaldenShand ParkAxminster

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