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Call for change: Air gun attacks on cats

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46% of feline air gun shootings prove fatal: 78% of the public support the introduction of air gun licensing

46% of feline air gun shootings prove fatal: 78% of the public support the introduction of air gun licensing

A CALL for a change in legislation to restrict the sale and use of weapons has arisen following the distressing rise in fatal air gun attacks on cats.

Over 1,000 vets across the country, as well as 1,000 cat owners and 1,000 non-cat owners, were surveyed by Cats Protection, the leading feline welfare charity, which has sadly revealed that many more cats are killed today in gun-related attacks than 20 years ago.

The survey also revealed that a shocking 44% of vets questioned by the charity had treated cats within the past year which had been the victim of attacks by air-powered weapons, with a horrific 46% of these shootings proving fatal.

This research was undertaken by Cats Protection to mark the 20th anniversary since it first investigated the issue of air gun attacks.

In 1996, although 74% of vets had treated cats for air weapon attacks, just 11% of the feline victims passed away. Therefore, although attacks seem to be less common these days, they are far more likely to prove fatal.

The rise in fatal attacks suggests that more powerful air guns are being used. Injuries to the head and body are most common, with many cats left blind or partially sighted.

Cats Protection, vets and feline lovers alike are now calling on governments in England and Wales to officially make it a criminal offence to own an air gun without a licence or permit in a bid to reduce the number of cats who have to suffer from gun violence across the UK.

A leading criminologist states that many people who injure or shoot cats with air guns are worryingly far more likely to go on to commit similar crimes against humans.

Dr Adam Lynes, Criminologist and Lecturer at Birmingham City University, said: “There is an increasing body of research that examines the relationship between animal cruelty and the move towards attacking and murdering humans.

“It is argued that through the process of social learning theory, a theoretical framework in which criminal behaviour is learned, that some offenders will gain positive stimuli from engaging in animal cruelty which may lead to aggression towards humans. This is known as the ‘graduation hypothesis’.

“While it is acknowledged that a crime such as serial murder is incredibly rare, this relationship between animal cruelty and aggression towards humans may explain why some individuals commit acts of violence towards animals prior to attacking humans.”

Alongside this, nearly two-thirds of people surveyed believe that those who attack cats who go on to commit crimes against humans also, indicating a clear public concern.

More than three-quarters of vets indicated that air gun injuries were more frequently inflicted on cats than any other type of animal.

86% of vets agreed that they would like to see a change in the current laws to ultimately restrict the sale and use of air weapons, alongside 78% of the general public who would support the introduction of air gun licensing.

Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Advocacy Manager, said: “The sheer volume of instances where cats are injured and killed by air gun attacks is very concerning.

“We are calling for much stricter regulation on the ownership of air guns, as we strongly believe this will help to protect cats and other animals from these shocking attacks, and avoid air guns falling into the wrong hands.

“We want to see England and Wales following the example of Scotland, where from next year it will be illegal to own an air gun without a licence.

“The statistics show that fewer cats are now surviving air gun attacks than they were back in 1996.

“It is disconcerting that only a small percentage of the general public, 24%, would report these incidents to the police, and that 53% said they would do nothing. This could be due to a lack of confidence that the perpetrator will be found.

“Sadly, 78% of people who reported an air gun attack on their cat said the culprit was never caught.

“If any cat owners have lost their cat to an air gun attack in the last six months, we’d be grateful if they could send any details to [email protected]. uk. It will help Cats Protection to collect more evidence about the scale of these attacks and continue to raise the issue with politicians across the UK.”

In Pembrokeshire, one cat was fatally injured by an air gun in the north county village of Puncheston.

This stray feline, who was looked after by several homes, was the second cat to be killed in the village in less than a month, leading Lisa to believe that it was not an isolated incident.

Another cat was shot by an air gun in Milford Haven, with the pellet going straight through her neck and becoming lodged in her left shoulder, in an attack which she was lucky to survive.

Daisy the cat was then taken to All Pets Vet Care to remove the pellet, which cost her owners nearly £500.

Daisy has since recovered from the incident, but the usually confident cat now remains close to her owner’s side.

Recently making headlines at The Herald was the news that a group of teenagers from Milford Haven were shot at with an air rifle whilst on a walk.

Although extremely shaken up, no serious injuries were sustained but one of the boys was left with bruising to his chest after being hit by one of the shots.

PC Laurence Rew, investigating the case, said: “This was a very frightening situation for the group of teenagers who were targeted as they walked along the path.

“Air rifles are dangerous weapons if used incorrectly and can cause serious injury and even death.”

A survey which was conducted last year by the British Veterinary Association revealed that 41% of its members had previously treated cats who had wounds caused by air guns.

Cats Protection’s survey also indicated that a massive 88% of cat-wounding culprits were aged under 25.

Current gun laws state that young people under the age of 14 are able to use an air gun on private premises with the consent of the occupier of those premises as long as they are under the supervision of a person aged 21 or over.

People aged between 14 and 16 are allowed to borrow an air gun from a person aged 18 or over and use it on private property without supervision, indicating that laws need to be altered due to the 88% of cat injurers being aged under 25.

Sean Wensley, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: “These findings are concerning for both owners and vets.

“Anyone using an air gun, whether they are an adult or child, should be aware of the very serious injuries these weapons inflict.

“Vets see shocking injuries caused to cats by air guns, so we want to see better enforcement of animal welfare legislation and urge the police and local authorities to take action where they can.”

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Labour promises ‘most significant investment in Britain’s ports in a generation’

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LABOUR has said this week that it will “Build it in Britain” with the most significant investment in Britain’s ports in a generation, as part of Green Prosperity Plan to support the creation of 650,000 good jobs across the country.

A Labour Government will “Build it in Britain” Keir Starmer said on Thursday, as he visited the North East of England to highlight Labour’s plans to deliver the most significant upgrade of Britain’s ports in a generation. 

Visiting a port in the North East, Labour Leader Keir Starmer, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, and Shadow Energy Secretary Ed Miliband will set out how Labour’s £1.8 billion investment in Britain’s port infrastructure will help crowd billions more of private sector investment into the UK’s energy industry.

Labour’s announcement comes after Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, visited the Port of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire last month alongside with Henry Tufnell, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, to learn more about the port’s operations and challenges.

After the visit, Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens said: “Upgrading our ports, like this one here in Milford Haven, can help us seize the golden opportunity we have to become a world leader renewable energy, delivering cheaper bills and the jobs of the future.
 
“But the Conservative government is holding Wales back, with narrow-minded, poorly run investment schemes that leave us lagging behind international competitors.
 
“A UK Labour government will switch on GB Energy to invest in projects that can secure our lead in floating offshore wind, unlocking the jobs and investment that the Tories have left to languish.”

Henry Tufnell, Labour’s candidate in this year’s General Election, added: “Pembrokeshire’s first Labour MP, Desmond Donnelly, was instrumental in the creation of the Port of Milford Haven, transforming Pembrokeshire’s economic fortunes. Today, as in the 1950s, we face a crossroads. We must put our county at the forefront of a new Labour Government’s industrial strategy to build it in Britain.

Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan will secure our energy supply, develop industry, and create good well paid jobs right here in our county. We don’t want the young people of Pembrokeshire to feel they must leave their home county to get on in life. We want to provide opportunity here, and we want to provide it now.”

Labour’s plan for ports will help reverse fourteen years of industrial decline under the Conservatives and support domestic manufacturing across the country. The pledge is funded through Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, which includes a proper windfall tax on the oil and gas giants making record profits, to fund investment in British industries.Keir Starmer’s announcement comes as Labour confirms that its Green Prosperity Plan will help support the creation of up to 650,000 good jobs in Britain’s industrial heartlands, including here in Pembrokeshire, by crowding billions of private investment into industries such as Britain’s nuclear, steel, automotive, and construction industries. 

The last Labour government led the way on upgrading Britain’s ports, providing funding for the development of port sites to support offshore wind turbine manufacturing. This industrial advantage has been squandered after fourteen years of the Conservatives, with recent research showing the UK could have created almost 100,000 more jobs in the wind industry if it had followed Denmark’s example in recent years and built up domestic supply chains in clean energy.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Labour Leader Keir Starmer outlined the choice facing millions of voters: continued industrial decline after 14 years of Conservative rule, or national economic renewal with Labour, saying:“The legacy of fourteen years of Conservative rule is Britain’s industrial strength reduced to the rubble and rust of closed-down factories. They have let good jobs go overseas and done nothing about it, and every community has paid the price. 

“A Labour government will reindustrialise Britain – from the biggest investment in our ports in a generation, to a British Jobs Bonus to crowd billions of investment into our industrial heartlands and coastal communities.“

The wealth of Britain was once built on a bedrock of industrial jobs that offered security and a good wage. By investing in Britain’s homegrown energy sector, we can rebuild this dream for the twenty-first century- good jobs, higher wages, and the pride that comes from good work for all.”Through policies such as Great British Energy, the National Wealth Fund, and the mission for Clean Power by 2030, a Labour government will invest in technologies like floating offshore wind, hydrogen, nuclear, and carbon capture and storage, which will help secure Britain’s energy independence.

This will create a new generation of skilled jobs in growing industries, which will offer people good wages, give confidence in their job security, and provide them with opportunities to progress. This policy is part of Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, to cut energy bills for families, make Britain energy independent, and rebuild the strength of British industry.

This historic investment in working people and their communities is the only way out of the high energy bills, energy insecurity, and the doom loop of low growth, high taxes and crumbling public services under Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives.Commenting on Labour’s landmark plan to invest in Britain’s port infrastructure, Shadow Energy Secretary Ed Miliband MP said: “Making Britain a clean energy superpower requires flourishing national ports. Whilst the Conservatives are letting other countries plunder jobs that could be ours here in Britain, Labour has a plan to help win the race for the industries of the future.“

This is what Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan will do for every community in Britain – slash energy bills, create good jobs, boost our national energy independence, and help to tackle the climate crisis.”

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Scheme to upgrade Dinas Cross holiday park withdrawn

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PLANS to create a ‘five-star resort’ in one of Wales’s most popular holiday locations have been withdrawn.

In an application submitted to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Chester-based Boutique Resorts Ltd sought permission to relinquish 50 mixed touring pitches (caravans and tents) at Fishguard Bay Resort, Dinas Cross, replacing them with “36 high quality timber-effect holiday lodges”.

The application, recommended for refusal at the April 24 meeting of the national park’s development management committee, also included an increase in the site area of the approved park, a new entrance, a new reception lodge, staff and visitor parking area, with extensive environmental improvements.

The site, established in the 1950s, currently has planning permission for 50 static caravans and 50 mixed touring units, and it is intended 23 of the proposed lodges to be sited at the entrance, with a further 13 throughout the site.

Despite the proposals seeking a reduction in outright numbers, the applicants say the scheme would see an increase in the number of full and part-time jobs associated with the resort, from 29 to 62 jobs.

A previous application was refused in 2019, mainly on visual impact, ecological impact and highway impact, and the applicant has sought to address the issues raised by that refusal, a supporting statement says.

It adds: “The applicant purchased the site in 2014 with the intention to upgrade the site into a five-star luxury resort. This is very much still the applicant’s intention and whilst he has replaced some existing static caravans with luxury lodges, he also seeks to replace the touring caravans and tents with luxury lodges too.

“The resort is now considered one of the most desirable holiday parks on the Pembrokeshire Coast which is evident on the number of holidaymakers who return to the resort year on year. Such is demand for luxury lodges on the site, the applicant requires additional units.

“The applicant now wishes to move the resort further by replacing the mixed touring pitches with luxury lodges but also provide a much-needed new entrance into the resort.”

Objections to the scheme were received from the National Trust, the national park’s strategic policy and ecologist, and the South Wales Trunk Road Agency, and 12 members of the public, along with one letter of support.

The application was recommended for refusal for reasons including it was “likely to have a significant detrimental impact on the special qualities of the National Park by intensifying the visual impact and intrusion of a large static caravan site within the extensive coastal views of this section of the National Park,” it would represent an intensification of the site, and was likely to “have an unacceptable impact on neighbouring residential amenity through increased noise and traffic movements”.

The application, listed for consideration by park planners next week, has since been withdrawn.

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First step towards council tax and business rate reform

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MAJOR reforms to council tax and business rates have cleared the first hurdle in the Senedd.

MSs backed the general principles of the local government finance bill, which would introduce a five-year cycle for council tax revaluations from 2030.

The bill would lay much of the groundwork for Welsh Government proposals to redesign council tax, with current bands based on property values from 2003.

It would also increase the frequency of business rates revaluations from five to three years.

Rebecca Evans told the Senedd the bill forms a vital part of the Welsh Government’s wider programme of local tax reform.

Wales’ finance minister explained the bill would enable ministers to modify business rate relief exemptions and the multiplier to support policy priorities.

John Griffiths outlined the local government committee’s stage-one report recommendations aimed at improving the bill and guarding against unintended consequences for taxpayers.

Mr Griffiths explained that the bill provides a framework for future policy changes to be made by the Welsh Government via secondary legislation.

The Labour MS, who represents Newport East, said the committee heard concerns that this limits opportunity for public engagement and scrutiny by the Senedd.

Welcoming the Welsh Government’s commitment to retaining the single-person council tax discount at 25%, he highlighted wide-ranging powers in the bill over vital reduction schemes.

In terms of business rates, the committee chair said MSs heard broad support for a move to three-yearly revaluations, which he described as a reasonable, proportionate cycle.

Peredur Owen Griffiths, who chairs the finance committee, backed the bill’s key aim to create a fairer, more flexible system.

The South Wales East MS welcomed reassurances from the Welsh Government that the intention of council tax reforms is not to raise more revenue.

“Given the regressive nature of council tax, we support the aim to make it fairer without affecting the tax base,” he said.

Plaid Cymru’s finance secretary said the proposed powers will reduce the Welsh Government’s reliance on UK bills to make changes.

Alun Davies, a Labour backbencher, warned that delegated powers in the bill risk diminishing the role of the Senedd.

Sam Rowlands, the Tories’ shadow local government secretary, raised concerns about the bill putting more power in the hands of the Welsh Government rather than councils.

He warned the bill is a stepping stone towards higher taxes through the back door, saying: “This bill in and of itself does not necessarily do that but it certainly enables future changes.”

The former leader of Conwy council, who represents North Wales in the Senedd, called for reforms to the formula used to allocate funding to Wales’ 22 councils.

Raising concerns about digital exclusion, Mr Rowlands opposed a provision in the bill which would remove a duty to publish council tax notices in local newspapers.

He said: “We believe it’s a really important part of the democratic process in local government, especially in relation to transparency.”

Backing a revaluation of all 1.5 million properties in Wales, Labour MS Mike Hedges described council tax as fundamentally unfair.

He said: “Someone living in a property worth £100,000 pays around five times as much council tax relative to the property value as someone living in a property worth £1m.”

Mr Hedges, who represents Swansea East, also opposed the removal of the duty to provide council tax information in newspapers.

On business rates, he said: “I’ve always supported the returning of them to local authorities. We don’t need an all-Wales system; let each local authority set its own business rates.”

Ms Evans told the chamber she intends to make a statement on the next steps for council tax reform before the summer recess.

The Senedd agreed the general principles of the reforms without objection, and the bill now moves to stage two which will see MSs consider detailed amendments.

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