To consider a report giving details of a consultation in respect of the adoption of a new set of licence conditions for pet shops.
The Committee considered the Pet Shop Licence Conditions report which was set out in agenda pages 25-70.
Laura stated that the report contained information in relation to a consultation exercise in respect of the adoption of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) model licence conditions for pet shops. She pointed out that this model was considered the best model in the field.
Members were informed that it was proposed that a consultation exercise be carried out with holders of pet shop licences in respect of the adoption of a new set of licence conditions, and for any responses to be reported on for consideration at a future meeting of the Committee.
During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:
· Councillor Halsall asked that the annexes contained in the agenda pack be labelled more clearly in future reports;
· Councillor Ferris stated that he had sent a number of questions to Josie Wragg, Interim Director of Environment and Clare Lawrence, Assistant Director, Place in relation to this item for which he had received no answers. Firstly, he was interested to know why this proposal was limited to pet shops only as he felt that vets should have been included;
· Laura stated that there was a list of groups that had been consulted by the CIEH on page 44 of the agenda;
· In response to a question Laura confirmed that it was possible to widen the consultation;
· Councillor Mirfin believed that the consultation should be extended to groups such as vets and animal rescue centres;
· Councillor Ferris felt that by using the word ‘minimum’ in the report the Council was not aspiring to high enough standards;
· Members suggested using the word ‘benchmarking’ instead of ‘minimum’ in the report;
· The Chairman stated that using the word ‘minimum’ did not mean that the Council had low expectations or that more conditions could not be adopted;
· Laura informed that the CIEH was used by most local authorities and she was not aware of any other document with higher standards;
· Councillor Smith noticed that some requirements listed in the Council’s licence conditions were higher than the ones listed in CIEH and other were not. He asked that the differences be highlighted in future reports;
· Councillor Richards believed that the reference to minimum standards should be viewed as a point into which people could go above;
· Councillor Ferris stated that there used to be a set of additional conditions and asked why these were not being used. Julia explained that the additional conditions used to be in relation to the sale of puppies in pet shops. She stated that the work that was undertaken found that the sale of puppies conditions were included in the new document;
· Councillor Ferris asked the Committee to consider the option of excluding puppy and kittens sales from pet shops;
· Councillor Mirfin stated that many places sold puppies and it was important to have regulations in place to cover all sources of puppy sales;
· Councillor Halsall pointed out that these proposed licence conditions were for pet shops and not breeders;
· Laura informed that a change of law in respect to all animal licences was expected to come into force next year in October, this would be brought for discussion at this Committee;
· In response to a question Laura stated that the Local Authority would need a very good reason to be able to ban pet shops from selling puppies;
· Councillor Ferris point out that the Pet Animals Act allowed for additional conditions to be applied and stated that Southampton had such conditions in place;
· Laura agreed to investigate this option;
· Councillor Mirfin expressed concern over removing the sale of puppies and kittens from pet shops without there being a reciprocal arrangement with breeders, he believed this would expose a hole in the management and protection of animals of a young age;
· Councillor Wayne Smith pointed out that it was necessary to have all conditions in the document in order to carry out the consultation; and
· In response to a question Laura stated that it was best practice to consult on any proposed new conditions.
After a robust debate the Committee agreed to include information in the consultation about the current conditions, the model conditions and the possibility of the adoption of new conditions.
1) The consultation exercise would be widened to include groups such as veterinary practices and animal rescue centres; and
2) The consultation would include information in respect of the current standard conditions, the model conditions and proposed new conditions.