Fur remains in St Albans market after Labour-Tory council standoff

Badger fur can be seen hanging from a stall at the medieval market, part the recent 800th anniversar

Badger fur can be seen hanging from a stall at the medieval market, part the recent 800th anniversary Magna Carta celebrations in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Fur will continue being sold at markets in St Albans after Tory councillors pelted an attempt to prohibit its sale.

After seeing badger skins being sold at a recent medieval market, and photos of fur products taken by Herts Animal Rights in the city centre, Labour councillor Dreda Gordon sought support to ban its sale.

But a “wrecking ball motion” by Tory councillor Beric Read, the portfolio holder for localism, put paid to her proposal at last Wednesday’s full council meeting.

Cllr Gordon wanted the banning of fur to be added to the very short list of goods barred from local markets – which currently states just illegal and counterfeit items.

She said: “I’m asking council to support adding fur and fur-trimmed products to that list.

“I want St Albans to be seen as a progressive city that doesn’t hark back to the times when wearing animal fur or fur-trimmed garments was accepted as part of the norm.

“I want residents to know goods being sold on the markets are not the products of animals being killed for their fur. This is the mark of a civilised society. Let’s make our markets a fur-free zone.”

Most Read

But Cllr Read pushed for a watered-down version, to “only allow the sale of fur which is a by-product of the food industry, and ask this to be included in the rules”.

He explained: “We need to balance a choice of what people are allowed to buy. I believe that for most people fur and hides are a by-product of the meat industry. To most people, [that is] acceptable. But fur slaughtered for fashion is not.”

But Cllr Gordon refused to accept his amendment, telling Cllr Read, “We are talking about rabbits aren’t we, because no one eats foxes.

“This amendment is trying to conjure up some sort of romantic Downton [Abbey] scenario when you’ve got [people] out shooting the pesky rabbits and a Mrs Bridges character downstairs turning the carcasses into a hearty pie. But this isn’t the reality.”

Cllr Mal Pakenham dismissed Cllr Read’s suggestion as, “illegal poppycock. It’s unenforceable.

“Imagine a member of our markets’ team going up to a stall, and they think the item may be fur. The first hurdle is, is it fur or isn’t it fur? What does that mean? That’ll be an interesting one to run past St Albans Magistrates’ Court.

“Cllr Read should do the decent thing and withdraw his illegal and unworkable amendment. A member of the market traders’ association would have a good case in law to dispute the banning of their products.”

Green Party councillor Simon Grover added: “Ninety-five per cent of population in this country wouldn’t consider buying or wearing fur. We should support the unamended motion.”

But Cllr Read’s motion allowing the continued sale of fur was narrowly passed 26-25.