Gloucester leaders challenged over "pest" Barnwood Bunnies
CITY leaders were challenged over checking up on the welfare of "pest" rabbits which it was feared were disappearing from a roundabout.
Civic watchdog Kay Powell asked Gloucester City Council why it was concerned about the Wall's roundabout rabbits but apparently not the horses stuck in mud and floodwater at St Oswald's last month.
"Given that rabbits are legally classified as a pest, was it the best use of council officer time to send someone to Wall's roundabout to see why there are less of them?" she asked during public question time at Thursday's full council meeting.
Cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods, Councillor Kathy Williams, explained why an officer visited the roundabout to check on the so-called Barnwood Bunnies, which have Facebook and Twitter accounts dedicated to them.
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"She may be in a minority in Gloucester," said Coun Williams (Con, Longlevens). "A lot of people value seeing them. They have become a national point of interest. There was a concern something was going wrong.
"We have a duty to animal wildlife. There was concern there was an itinerant sleeper on that roundabout as well. To put those matters to rest, we sent an officer to make sure the rabbits and everything else was okay."
Ms Powell asked if the council acted in the same way over the 60 horses stranded by floodwater.
"Did you send someone out to look at those horses in the mud?" she asked.
Coun Williams replied: "We do work with the RSPCA. It was aware of the situation and we left the matter in their hands." The horses were all removed by the owner, after volunteers acted to get them to higher ground.
Fears the Barnwood Bunnies were being poached, expressed by big cat tracker Frank Tunbridge, were allayed by Gloucestershire police who sent an officer to check on the rabbits.