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Soapbox: Badgers, Seven Dials and benefit cuts
7:10pm Friday 12th October 2012 in opinion feed
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Brighton vet Iain McGill is urging people to fight the government’s badger cull.
Badgers. A much loved British animal but one living under a death sentence.
Here is a story fantastical, brutal, unbelievable, yet true.
In the 1950s, Government bean counters came up with a whizzo idea - inbreeding cows to produce ever larger quantities of milk.
As a result, dairy cows are now crude clones of each other, with high susceptibility to diseases like BSE and tuberculosis or TB.
Despite this, the Government and dairy industry are keen for business as usual, and so, because TB in cows has massively increased, a scapegoat needed to be found. They came up with the badger!
In the 1990s a £50 million research project concluded that culling badgers could make no contribution to the control of TB in cattle.
So the badgers are safe, right? Not with this crumbling Coalition, who have cherry picked the science to allow the cull.
The scientist that they are using to justify this is one David King, architect of the last mass slaughter of animals during the foot and mouth disease epidemic.
His premise : if all the animals are dead, there will be no disease! And guess why there's been a huge step increase in cattle TB over the past 10 years? You’ve guessed it, it’s directly related to the last bloody slaughter, as the restocking of cattle needed to fill the gap left by all the dead cows, spread TB around the country.
Nothing to do with badgers and far more to do with David King’s ignorance of animal disease, and sheer brutality. He may have operated a scorched earth policy to help Tony Blair win an election, but the aftermath has been a disease disaster.
Five veterinary colleagues and I have published a detailed letter in both weekly vet journals which concludes: “The widespread shooting of a protected indigenous species like the badger would be brutal, misguided, foolish, disgraceful, expensive and counter-productive.”
Please don’t let this bloody cull happen. I urge you to join me, David Attenborough, Team Badger, the Green Party, the Badger Trust, the RSPCA, Humane Society International, PETA, the RSPB and many more, in opposing this badger cull and the way our dairy cattle are treated.
Go to www.teambadger.org and sign former Queen guitarist Dr Brian May’s petition against the cull, which has over 150 000 signatures and is the fastest growing e-petition on the Government’s website. Let’s badger David Cameron into another u-turn, for if you tolerate this, your children will be next.
Sevendials resident Rob Heale, of Chatham Place, attended the consultation meetings and workshops on changes to the busy junction.
Proposals to remove the railings and the pelican crossings at Seven Dials are not an improvement at all. They are a backward step.
In the past, councillors and officers have thought that the introduction of railings and lighted crossings would help improve safety given the increased volume of traffic here.
Nothing has changed to reverse that decision. The removal of pelican crossings and the introduction of zebras, together with the removal of the safety barriers would probably make things worse for pedestrians.
I haven’t yet met someone who supports the removal of the safety railings. Children could be at risk. People who are drunk, confused or have health issues may be at risk.
Motorists could be put at risk by people crossing randomly. And at the very least, it would exacerbate the problems of congestion here.
The proposals would also do nothing to reduce the volume of traffic or allow for the flow of essential vehicles through the area.
By widening some of the pavements, making Vernon Terrace one way and widening the roundabout, vehicles would be funnelled into narrower spaces thereby causing more congestion at Seven Dials.
I feel that this would make things worse for local residents in terms of safety and travel options. In addition, increased congestion at the Dials could lead drivers to use nearby residential roads as alternative routes There is nothing here that would improve things for bus users either. In fact, the narrowing of the roads leading to the Dials and the widening of the roundabout through unnecessary “concrete setts” would make it difficult for buses and other vehicles to manoeuvre through the area. The changes might also make things awkward for emergency vehicles.
I also said that I was opposed to making Bath Street two-way again. In the past I understand that residents campaigned to make it one-way to improve pedestrian safety and protect residential streets.
There also appears to be no link-up with the proposals for the Brighton Station area and a lack of thought about how these ideas might affect other areas in Brighton and Hove.
I hope that residents and community groups will participate in the consultation and reject some of these ideas. Yes, there is a need for improvements but some of the suggestions put forward by the council could be dangerous and damaging.
Andy Winter is Chief Executive of the Brighton Housing Trust At this week’s Conservative Party conference, the government announced that it was considering removing housing benefit from those under-25s, requiring them to “live with their parents”.
This appears to be one of the most ill-thought through, headline grabbing policy announcements that I can recall.
There are some questions that demand answers: How can parents be obliged to take their adult children back into the home, and what happens to those young people where they can’t “go home”?
What protection will there be for children and young people who have left their family home to avoid abuse and domestic violence, or those leaving care?
What happens in those cases where the parents have “done the right thing”, as encouraged by the government, by moving to smaller houses once their children have move out and there is now no spare room?
What happens if there is no room in the parent’s home for other reasons, such as second families with children?
I have to ask why this proposal is being brought forward now? We are already witnessing the most profound changes to the benefit system in my lifetime. If this is such a pressing issue, why was it not identified and enacted when all the other changes were introduced?
It has been suggested that this proposal is an attempt to reconnect with disgruntled Tory backbenchers. I don’t know if that is true, but if there is even a hint of reality in that analysis, it ill-becomes any political party to risk a huge rise in youth homelessness for internal party expediency.
This isn’t the pressing problem it is being made out to be. Those under 35 living in the private rented sector are entitled to just £77 housing benefit per week. Just 6 per cent of those under 25 living in the private rented sector currently receive housing benefit.
92 per cent of new claims for housing benefit are from those in work. They are already “doing the right thing” but this measure will hit young people already in low paid jobs.
The consequence of this proposal will be an increase in overcrowding, homelessness, begging, crime, and prostitution.