CIRCUSES using wild animals could be banned from performing on council land if a proposal is supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet next week.

Members of the Cabinet will be asked to approve a policy banning wild animal circuses from council property, council-owned land and at council-endorsed or supported events.

The report to next Wednesday's (20 July) meeting also recommends the council seeks a voluntary agreement with key partner organisations and existing tenants to adopt a similar policy.

It states that the move would support the council's commitment to promoting animal health and welfare while also protecting residents and businesses from disruption and potential danger should a wild animal escape.

Councillor Karen Shore, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Since the council was formed in 2009 there has been an assumed policy against allowing wild animal circuses to perform on council land.

“This issue arose most recently in 2014 when a circus featuring wild animals including lions and tigers visited the borough and some shows took place on land tenanted by the council, resulting in local protest.

“Cabinet members will be asked to formalise this policy position and also to encourage partners to adopt the same approach.”

There is no requirement for the council to be notified of any circus which uses wild animals entering the borough, so inspections by officers responsible for animal welfare may not be carried out.

According to campaign group Animal Defenders International, more than 200 local authorities have introduced prohibitions on wild animal circuses.

The Cabinet report highlights research that concludes there is no evidence that the natural needs of wild animals can be met through the living conditions and husbandry offered by circuses.

It states that, according to the RSPCA, the concern about the use of wild animals in circuses relates to their inability to express normal behaviour.

Wild animals in circuses are covered by welfare regulations and such circuses must be licensed by Defra, which undertakes routine inspections.

The Government has indicated that a ban on wild animals in circuses will be introduced although to date no ban has been implemented.