Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils ban giving of live animals

Two Suffolk councils have banned the giving of live animals as prizes on their land.

The decision was reached unanimously during Mid Suffolk and Babergh cabinet meetings this week, and will be applied to any land owned or controlled by the council.

This means any attempt to give live animals during events such as fairs, regardless of the person’s age, will be outright prohibited.

Although councillors do not think the ban will have a big impact on events, considering the low number of instances, they believe this is an important step toward abandoning an outdated practice.

Mid Suffolk Council leader Andrew Mellen said: “Clearly this is a welfare issue — it’s about those animals being looked after.

“It’s a legacy from the past we don’t want to carry on and hopefully it sets the bar for other landowners and this practice will be banished from the district.”

The decision follows an RSPCA campaign started in 2021, and already adhered to by some 50 local authorities, calling for the ban.

A council-led crackdown on the practice, the RSPCA hopes, will serve as a deterrent for other cases which may go unreported due to a lack of awareness around animal welfare and legislation.

As it stands, in England and Wales, the tradition is an offence only if the person can reasonably be believed to be under 16 years old.

In Scotland, however, the practice is banned, regardless of age, except when an animal is offered in a family context.

Mid Suffolk Council cabinet member Andrew Stringer added: “This is about bringing the standards up to where we should be and help create the circumstances where there is less animal cruelty.”

Despite the fact many councils have adopted the ban, this has not yet been tested in law, meaning legal challenges have not yet been received.