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Editor's comment May 2014

PUBLISHED: 16:56 25 April 2014 | UPDATED: 16:56 25 April 2014

Cotswold Life magazine's editor, Mike Lowe

Cotswold Life magazine's editor, Mike Lowe

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Cotswold Life’s editor Mike Lowe returns his critical gaze to the botched badger cull of last year, and comments on the transport strategy explored in this May’s Business and Professional Life supplement.

The 2013 badger cull in and around Gloucestershire was highly controversial and widely deemed ineffective / Photo: Jiri BalekThe 2013 badger cull in and around Gloucestershire was highly controversial and widely deemed ineffective / Photo: Jiri Balek

As I’ve said before in these monthly mumblings, I’ve sat on the fence for so long over the badger cull debate that I’ve got splinters in my backside. It is a terribly difficult situation to resolve. While an outbreak of bovine TB can have a devastating impact on farmers, I remain unconvinced that the measures so far taken to eradicate the disease have been remotely effective.

What I do know is that the Defra’s decision to persevere with the cull-by-shooting in Gloucestershire and Somerset after last autumn’s botched attempt is most unwelcome for any number of reasons. Not only was the attempted cull a spectacular failure, but at times it descended into complete farce, most notably when model Kelly Brooks’s fiancé, a former TV Gladiator, crashed a van full of dead badgers into a bus stop in Gloucester city centre.

We are told that these will be “improved pilots” intended to perfect the process, yet there will still be no post-mortems of culled badgers to ascertain whether or not they were carrying the disease which, to me, renders the whole thing pointless. Then there is the matter of policing. We are told that the huge cost will be met from central funds, but no-one can put a price on the possible damage to the relationship between the police and the public. It is no secret that last year’s cull was largely rendered unworkable by people power: the sheer number of previously passive protesters who were out and about, quite legally walking the footpaths at night, made life extremely difficult for the marksmen. For this year’s cull to be ‘perfected’, there is the danger that that freedom of movement will have to be curtailed. I have no great concerns with how the police deal with the imported, militant animal rights campaigners. I do worry about how they might handle local, peaceful protesters.

So we’re in for another summer of angst. Somewhere between the extremes of vaccination, as advocated by wildlife experts, or gassing, as suggested by the Princess Royal, there has to be a better way.

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Inside this month’s excellent Business & Professional magazine you’ll find a very interesting examination of the region’s transport strategy.

While reading it, two thoughts occurred to me. Firstly, it is cheaper to park your plane at Gloucestershire Airport than it is to park your car in the centre of Cheltenham (no, really). Secondly, it’s all very well improving motorways and trunk roads across the region, but not if we then allow the police and those chaps in the black and yellow 4x4s from the Highways Agency to close them down on a whim.

Not a day passes without the traffic news on my car radio telling me that a major motorway is closed “and will be for some hours”.

I can understand that a major accident involving fatalities must be properly investigated, but I do think that proving criminality in lesser collisions should come second to the practicality of keeping the traffic, and business, on the move

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This article by Mike Lowe is from the May 2014 issue of Cotswold Life.

For more from Mike Lowe, follow him on twitter: @cotslifeeditor

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