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Posted by W von Papinešu on April 30, 2003 at 20:05:20:
SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO (Southampton, UK) 30 April 03 Reptile fair wins right to go ahead (Clare Kennedy)
A controverisal reptile fair in Wickham is to go ahead after a change of mind over the venue.
Last week Wickham Community Association announced it would not let next Sunday's fair go ahead following pressure from animal rights campaigners.
Animal Aid claimed the event would pose a threat to public health because some reptiles may carry the salmonella bacterium.
They also labelled the treatment of reptiles at the show as cruel.
But solicitors acting on behalf of The Federation of British Herpetologists insisted the Mill Lane venue could not be cancelled at the last minute.
In a letter to the community association they threatened to apply to the High Court for an injunction forcing the centre to honour its contract with them.
Now Wickham Community Association has agreed that the show can go ahead.
Chris Newman, FBH chairman, said he was delighted reptile enthusiasts belonging to the Portsmouth Reptile and Amphibian Society could now stage the show.
"I am absolutely delighted the show is going ahead but it is a hollow victory and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
"We did not want to take this action against the community association which is an innocent party.
"They felt forced to cancel the event because of the pressure put on them by Animal Aid.
"It was wrong to cancel this event when it is perfectly legal."
One of the organisers, Martin Eustace, of Bishop's Waltham, said: "We are expecting around 300 people throughout the day. It is very beneficial for reptile keepers to meet each other and share information.."
Animal Aid spokeswoman Elaine Toland said: "For the past few days we have trying to chase the fair up, thinking it might have gone underground.
"We are very disappointed the community centre has given in."
The last time the organisers held a fair at the centre in October, Winchester City Council sent an environmental health officer to carry out an undercover investigation.
He found no cause for concern about the treatment of the animals or any illegal trading going on.
Wickham Community Association chairman David Jones declined to comment.