ANIMAL rights campaigners have persuaded Winchester civic chiefs to beef up a new policy on a cruelty-free charter.

The full council narrowly agreed to specifically ban its own caterers from using battery farmed eggs, foie gras, and to only use high-welfare rose veal.

The vote by 26 to 24, with cross-party support, followed a petition by Catherine Gregory, of Winchester Animal Concern, who pointed out that battery farming was cruel as was the force-feeding of ducks or geese to produce foie gras.

Council leader George Beckett opposed the explicit mentioning of eggs and foie gras saying it was not the council’s job to use its power to ban something that was legal.

But Cllr Kelsie Learney, Liberal Democrat leader, said the council should set a good example as it did promoting fairtrade goods.

Cllr Therese Evans said the issue was not about freedom of choice for people but the freedom of animals to live cruelty-free lives.

The new compassion policy has seven points: 1. seeking to use products in its own activities which have a cruelty-free source and manufacturing process. Within its own catering this will include bans on foie gras, battery eggs and white veal; 2. not permitting circuses which make use of wild animals on its own land; 3. not allowing animals to be given as prizes at any events on its own land or premises; 4. promoting the spaying and neutering of animals for this own welfare; 5. not hiring its own premises for commercial events which include the sale or display of natural furs; 6. dealing with all pest control requirements, including lethal control where necessary, in a humane and efficient manner; 7. promoting the minimisation of plastic and other non bio-degradable waste in the district.

Marjorie Pooley, of WAC, said: “We are delighted. There are one or two items, we would prefer the council not to allow veal to be served at all. Circuses will still be allowed to use horses and dogs, but overall we are delighted.

“We would like to thank Cllr Learney who proposed the amendment.”