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Posted by W von Papinešu on September 17, 2002 at 18:38:19:
NORWICH EVENING NEWS (UK) 14 September 02 Reptile row hits high school show (Craig Stephen)
Council chiefs are deliberating whether to banish a long-standing reptile show from a secondary school over claims it is a forum for illegal trading of exotic animals.
Animal activists claim the annual show at Hellesdon High School on September 22 is the only remaining event in the UK after a blanket ban by local authorities throughout the country.
Animal Aid also fears the show, which is being organised by the Eastern Herpetological Society, could lead to infections being passed on to humans from reptiles.
But the organisers say the pressure group's claims are ludicrous and all sales of animals are perfectly legal.
Broadland District Council is now re-considering the show's licence whilst Hellesdon High is demanding rigorous health and safety regulations be applied should it get the green light.
Animal Aid point to the Pet Animals Act which outlaws the sale of pets in public places as part of a business.
Spokeswoman Elaine Toland said: "In previous years animals have been sold at the fair for profit and at the last UK event in Bradford, stallholders were selling animals illegally. It is a commercial event and I believe there is a 100 per cent chance of animals being sold.
"All local authorities have rejected one-day animal sales over the last two years. Broadland District Council, therefore, would take on the status on a rogue council if it were to allow this event to proceed."
Colin Ware, chairman of the EHS, dismissed the group's claims as "scaremongering".
He said: "All sales of animals at the show are perfectly legal and Broadland District Council would not have issued the licence in January if they had any doubts. Animal Aid's claims are completely spurious.
"The risk of catching an infection from reptiles is the same as from any animal be it a cat or dog. I have never heard of a reptile breeder or owner who has contracted salmonella.
"The show is now in its 11th year and we have always complied with strict health and safety regulations and this will be the case this year."
Len Stroud, bursar of Hellesdon High said: "We've not had any problems with the fair in the eight years it has been going and in the past the necessary health and safety regulations have been strictly obeyed.
"We will insist that there will be no illegal trading, that no food is sold to humans and that hygiene precautions are maintained. If we hear it is an illegal event it will not go ahead in the school."
The fair is expected to feature a number of reptiles including snakes and lizards but no dangerous animals such as crocodiles or alligators.
Andy Jarvis, Broadland's environmental services chief, said the council was taking legal advice about the fair and would only make a decision on it when it received these details.