USA -(Ammoland.com)- Members and supporters, thank you for being with us on another incredible journey in 2016. Overall, we have had a great year, with many a good campaign win and successes to celebrate. Thank you, sincerely, for your continued support.
It has been a busy year for the Countryside Alliance at the Welsh Assembly. One thing is for sure, the Alliance is the strongest, most visible rural voice in the political corridors of Cardiff Bay.
Shooting seems to have had a particularly large amount of attention with both Government and the Assembly this year, the very much failed attempts by Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports to damage the shooting industry in Wales have been a direct result of the Countryside Alliances lobbying and campaigning.
The year in Wales kicked off with the celebrations of the annual Countryside Alliance Awards which have made their home at the National Assembly for Wales and are warmly supported by politicians of all parties.
The Minister, Ken Skates, presented our Rural Oscars to a packed out celebratory evening in the heart of Cardiff Bay, thoroughly enjoyed by all who were involved.
We said farewell to some Assembly Members in the 2016 election, some good friends who left large boots to fill and others we didn’t shed a tear for. We welcomed all the new AM’s and I continue to plough through the myriad of meetings and briefings making sure that every Assembly Member is up to speed on our campaigns, whether they agree with them or not.
We welcomed too, a new party that has shaken the political landscape of Wales. UKIP started with seven seats but an Independent move from Nathan Gill brings them back to a steady six. Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas left Plaid Cymru and comfortable sits as an Independent with support from many of our members across Wales. Kirsty Williams, the only returning Lib Dem was warmly welcomed in a cunning move by the First Minister Carwyn Jones to his front bench as Cabinet Secretary for Education and Kirsty has already put her stamp on rural schools.
With the new recruits, and retuning AM’s to re-engage with we took the Countryside to the Senedd on the 29th of June, with a huge exhibition that filled the building and spilled out to the bay.
Hounds from the Llangeinnor and Pentyrch, Wentloog Wildfowlers and their team of gundogs, Pantglas birds of prey and a couple of sheep and a pony thrown in for good measure. Inside, we hosted more friends and showcased our campaigns, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Owen Williams and the Woodcock research project, the Deer Initiative, National Gamekeepers Organisation, Merthyr Anglers and many more, and we highlighted via exhibitions our campaigns on fly tipping, access to the countryside, The Countryside Alliance Foundation projects; Casting for Recovery and Fishing for Schools.
It was evident during the early weeks of 2016 that shooting was going to be under the spotlight. And so with nothing of its kind already available to promote the benefits shooting brings to Wales, we produced the Countryside Alliance “Shooting in Wales for countryside and community” booklet, in English and in Welsh, of course.
It was launched at the Countryside Day, by our scribe for the foreword, a keen angler, shooting man (and an even better rugby player in his day,) and Patron of the National Gamekeepers Organisation, Sir Gareth Edwards. To compliment the booklet, we treated AM’s and guests to a first class Game to Eat cooking demonstration by Jason Lloyd of Charlton House Catering sponsored by our faithful supporters, The Rhug Estate Corwen who supplied a fabulous selection of game which was quickly devoured by AM’s and guests.
In July we saw the League Against Cruel Sports hammering home a petition backed by a provocative press release calling for the ban on the use of snares in Wales.
LACS claim that 370,000 mammals are snared annually in Wales, yes that’s more than the Welsh mammal population. Thankfully, it had little effect on the committee, but worryingly the chair of the committee Mike Hedges AM, on receiving a joint letter from the CA, GWCT and NGO put his thoughts on record and stated that in his world “factual inaccuracies are a matter of opinion”. Not good is it?
On the 30th of November we gave evidence to the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee on the use of snares. LACS went up first and continued with the disingenuous approach that they have brought to the Assembly which was sadly making a mockery of the process. They are misinforming Assembly Members who are unwittingly repeating the falsifying claims, on public record, for all to see.
On the 14th of December the Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths told the committee that she would prefer to work with the industry on the new Code of Practice and code compliant snares, and was not in favour of a complete ban. #LACSfail
We continue to engage with the various stakeholder groups and take part in the workshops whether that’s Brexit discussions or Animal Health and Welfare, We are constantly engaging with Natural Resources Wales and advisory groups to Government and have built up an excellent honest and trustworthy working relationships with decision makers and policy creators.
So what’s in store for us in 2017? New codes of practice for dogs, equines and other livestock, improving access to land and water is on the agenda for the New Year and a call for registration, possibly legislation for mobile animal exhibits.
We will start the year by judging the finals of the 2016 Awards and from there on in the journey will no doubt be challenging, interesting and rewarding.
Before I finish I would just like to pay tribute to the fantastic team of staff in our head office. The unswerving dedication they have for your cause, their determination and sheer grit to promote and protect our member’s interests and the good humour in which they carry out their work is a gift that delivers all year round.
Whilst we have had many a success story here in Wales this year, it is very much a team effort and so a very “big thank” you to the team – Diolch!
Yn dymuno Nadolig Llawen iawn I chi gyd a phob bendith yn y Flwyddyn Newydd. Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.
About Countryside Alliance:
The Countryside Alliance is known for its work on wildlife and management, but its agenda is far broader than that incorporating food & farming, local businesses and services and the injustices of poor mobile phone signal and broadband in the countryside. We are anything but a single issue organisation and represent the interests of country people from all backgrounds and geographical locations. With around 100,000 members the Countryside Alliance promotes and protects rural life at Parliament, in the media and on the ground. Our vision is a future for the countryside which both preserves its traditional values and promotes a thriving rural community and economy; a countryside sustainably managed and sustainably enjoyed; a countryside where rural communities have equal access to the facilities and services enjoyed in urban communities; a countryside where people can pursue their businesses, activities and lives in a society that appreciates and understands their way of life.
Join the voice of rural Britain today at www.Countryside-Alliance.org