This past Friday (17th November 2017) the Countryside Alliance arranged for John Grogan MP to visit Ilkley Moor and meet the current tenants and gamekeepers.
llkley Moor is the last remaining council-owned moor on which grouse shooting and all its associated management continues, and in early 2018 the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (BDMC) will be voting on whether to renew the shooting lease that has been held by the Bingley Moor Partnership since 2008.
This local council issue has become a national cause for the animal rights movement, who are calling for the lease not to be renewed. John Grogan, Labour MP for Keighley, had publicly stated his opposition to the lease being renewed, so the Countryside Alliance invited him to visit the moor and meet the people involved.
Mr Grogan was shown the machinery and infrastructure that the Partnership supplies, including vital firefighting equipment, and met the staff that they employ to manage the moor and provide public services such as combatting wildfire and anti-social behaviour. Mr Grogan was told that the Partnership is offering to pay BDMC £16,000 per year for the eight days a year of shooting, as well as shouldering management costs of around £70,000 per year that would otherwise fall upon the Council and the taxpayer.
Mr Grogan was accompanied by a representative from the Friends of Ilkley Moor. After Mr Grogan’s tour of Ilkley Moor, representatives from the Partnership and the Friends of llkley Moor were able to discuss the future, during which it was agreed that the Friends are in no position to take on the management costs. It was also noted that the Friends of Ilkley Moor are very disappointed that BMDC simply do not, and will not in the foreseeable future, have the resources to do so either.
Head of Shooting Liam Stokes, who attended on behalf of the Alliance, said: “The Countryside Alliance will never shy away from engagement with those who have taken different positions to our own. It was important to us to invite Mr Grogan to meet the people involved at Ilkley having seen he was commenting on the situation in the press.
“The Alliance understands that the BDMC countryside team simply do not have the resource to take on the management of Ilkley Moor, and the Friends of Ilkley Moor accept that they too are in no position to take on these costs. Given that the Council has both a National and International responsibility to manage the Moor sustainably, the only option is for the lease to Bingley Moor Partnership be renewed. We hope that having met the management team at Ilkley Moor and heard about the excellent work they do on behalf of wildlife and the public; Mr Grogan would agree that is a positive outcome. The alternative is to tell BDMC they need to find almost £100,000 per year to replace the management that is currently being undertaken at no cost to the public, and to advise which public services should be cut in order to find this money.”