THE founder of a campaign group opposing the culling of badgers has announced her decision to stand for the post of Gloucestershire's first police and Crime Commissioner.
Jeanne Berry, who launched action group Stroud 100 in November 2011, has said she was compelled to stand for the position in response to the constabulary's 'refusal' to acknowledge the risks associated with plans to allow gunmen to shoot badgers using high-velocity rifles at night.
Stroud resident Mrs Berry, who is standing as the Badger Party candidate, describes herself as a 'seasoned campaigner, frustrated by a lack of openness amongst public bodies.' Her campaign is based on three key pledges - to make the public's 'right to know' a priority for the force, to give those without a voice, both people and animals, support and protection and to only take half her £65,000 salary and invest the rest back into front-line policing.
A number of rivals have already put their names forward ahead of elections for the post on November 15, including Labour Party candidate Rupi Dhanda, independent Martin Surl and Victoria Atkins for the Conservatives. A badger cull in parts of west Gloucestershire and Somerset is due to begin in early autumn with trained gunmen killing the creatures in designated areas to tackle the spread of TB in cattle.
Natural England, the government body responsible for issuing cull licences, has said the exact locations of shootings have to remain secret for security reasons but Mrs Berry has warned this will put those out walking after dark at serious risk of injury and even death. "I am standing for this key post because there has been a wall of silence over the government's planned cull of badgers in Gloucestershire," said Mrs Berry.
"There is a real danger that people out walking at night or early in the morning could be shot by accident as has happened previously when a teenager was tragically killed by night time shooting. "The police and the Gloucestershire Police Authority are refusing to let people know where and when the night time shooting will take place. "The Labour and Conservative candidates for the commissioner post have both declined to comment on the dangers and the government is silent. "I just can not stand back and let this wall of silence go unchallenged."