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From Ilkley Gazette, 23rd November, 2017
Written by Claire Lomax

ILKLEY'S MP John Grogan last week visited Ilkley Moor at the invitation of the Countryside Alliance to meet with the current tenants and gamekeepers. llkley Moor is the last remaining council-owned moor on which grouse shooting and all its associated management continues, and in early 2018 the Bradford Council will be voting on whether to renew the shooting lease that has been held by the Bingley Moor Partnership since 2008.

This local council issue has become a national cause for the animal rights movement, who are calling for the lease not to be renewed. Mr Grogan, Labour MP for Keighley and Ilkley, had publicly stated his opposition to the lease being renewed, so the Countryside Alliance invited him to visit the moor and meet the people involved.

Mr Grogan was shown the machinery and infrastructure that the Partnership supplies, including firefighting equipment, and met the staff they employ to manage the moor and provide public services such as combatting wildfire and anti-social behaviour. Mr Grogan was told that the Partnership is offering to pay Bradford Council £16,000 per year for the eight days a year of shooting, as well as management costs of around £70,000 per year.

Mr Grogan was accompanied by a representative from the Friends of Ilkley Moor. After Mr Grogan’s tour of Ilkley Moor, representatives from the Partnership and the Friends of llkley Moor were able to discuss the future. The Countryside Alliance says it was agreed that the Friends were in no position to take on the management costs and it was also noted that the Friends of Ilkley Moor are very disappointed that Bradford Council do not, and will not in the foreseeable future, have the resources to do so either.

Head of Shooting Liam Stokes, who attended on behalf of the Alliance, said: “The Countryside Alliance will never shy away from engagement with those who have taken different positions to our own. It was important to us to invite Mr Grogan to meet the people involved at Ilkley having seen he was commenting on the situation in the press.

“The Alliance understands that the BDMC countryside team simply do not have the resource to take on the management of Ilkley Moor, and the Friends of Ilkley Moor accept that they too are in no position to take on these costs. Given that the Council has both a National and International responsibility to manage the Moor sustainably, the only option is for the lease to Bingley Moor Partnership be renewed. We hope that having met the management team at Ilkley Moor and heard about the excellent work they do on behalf of wildlife and the public; Mr Grogan would agree that is a positive outcome. The alternative is to tell BDMC they need to find almost £100,000 per year to replace the management that is currently being undertaken at no cost to the public, and to advise which public services should be cut in order to find this money.”

Mr Grogan said: "Last Friday together with the Chair of the Friends of Ilkley Moor I met campaigners for and against shooting on Ilkley Moor . My view remains the same as the Friends of Ilkley Moor that on a public Moor shooting is not compatible with the quiet enjoyment of the Moor by ramblers and others. In my view it should be confined to private land."