The movement of livestock and access to Ashford Market is vital for many of Kent's farmers and smallholders. No-one wants to see animals stressed and their welfare threatened because roads around Ashford become gridlocked following Brexit
Ashford East county councillor, George Koowaree, has asked what provisions are proposed to ensure that livestock can be transported to and from Ashford Market. George put his question to MIke Whiting, the Kent County Council Cabinet Member responsible for Transport, at last week's council meeting.
The Cabinet Member advised that KCC were expecting the Government to make continency arrangements for priority freight including livestock. However, KCC's Trading Standards unit would have a role in overseeing the arrangements and the compliance of animal wefare regulations.
George was not fully satisfied with this response. He asked the Cabinet Member to provide an assurance that Kent County Council will give Kent's farmers and smallholders the support needed to help them to adjust to whatever new arrangements the Government determines. The Cabinet Member agreed to this.
George expressed his disappointment after the council meeting, "With just 3 months to go before we are due to leave the EU, it is deeply frustrating that we have no idea what the Government's proposals are for the movement of farm animals around Kent. Animal welfare is paramount and farmers need be sure that they can get their livestock safely to market when the time comes.
"The Government needs to tell farmers what the new arrangements will be now, so farmers can make their own arrangements accordingly. Kent's Lib Dems will continue to press the Government and Kent County Council for answers."
George Koowaree's question to Cabinet Member, Mike Whiting was:
'The movement of livestock is vital for Kent's farmers and for our food supplies. Ashford is also an important livestock market. However, it would be unacceptable for the welfare of live animals to be threatened because they are caught up in delays, particularly if delays are prolonged beyond the period of time allowed for live animals to be transported. Would the Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste please advise what provisions are being made for the movement and welfare of livestock in transit in the event of Kent's main arteries being blocked following Brexit?'
The Cabinet Member gave the following response:
'Kent County Council has been advised that the Government will be identifying contingency arrangements for priority freight movements including livestock. These will be in addition to the Operation Fennel arrangements KCC has developed with partners to manage Eurotunnel and Channel Port freight traffic.
Trading Standards, which of course comes under Mr Hill who deal with the welfare of livestock in transit, are engaged with this process and will continue to monitor this. As it is the responsibility of the livestock keeper and haulier to ensure they maintain the welfare of their animals, Trading Standards will be working closely with partners to ensure they remain compliant.'