Regarding the minutes of the Parish of Lynton and Lynmouth on Thursday 29th March 2007.
For your information the Friends of the Goats was formed in 1997.
If you consult the records in the Town Hall or look at the ENP information board in the Valley of Rocks you will see that the Cheviot goat stocks were presented to then Lynton & Lyn mouth District Council and released in 1976, 21 years before the formation of Friends of the Goats (F.o.G..).
In the 1960, there were indeed few goats in the Valley, they were Saanen milking goats, the last ones illegally abandoned in the Valley from domestic stock, referred to in the L.L.D.C minutes as "lactating freaks" which were always running into the Town. It was hoped that the introduction of the Cheviot stock would produce a wilder group of goats; these were presented to, and released by the L.L.D.C. although they did not own the grazing rights-hence the release was illegal.
Later Cheviot goats were introduced into the herd, at the instigation of Ray Werner, the Councils advisor, and with the present Councils consent. This was not so successful according to his own latest report, and the animals were always straying, as they were not hefted in the area.
The Council has done nothing on Management of the goats, except to cull them. All of the culls have resulted in the distasteful practice of removing the heads for trophies.
F.o.G. was formed to counter these acts and attempt to seek other alternatives. The F.o.G. has consistently been ignored by the Council and has no authority to make a management plan, neither has it ever been asked to do so.
The F.o.G. voluntarily followed a policy of relocation paid for by money raised by volunteers
1997 The recently formed Friends of the Goats organised a mass relocation scheme as the herd exceeded one hundred and fifty in number. Before this could take place the Local Council "organised" that over 100 hundred goats were shot.
1998 In September, the herd was rounded up with the assistance of the Mammal Conservation Trust.
2000 October, 25 goats from the Valley of Rocks herd and all goats from a separate herd on adjacent land owned by the Lee Abbey Estate were sent to conservation and breeding projects in the South of England as follows:
So with voluntary help F.o.G. has relocated more Goats than the Council have shot.
Lastly F.o.G. has paid to fence several properties at the back of Longmead before English Nature & DEFRA paid for the present stock fencing for domestic grazing stock, not primarily for the goats. Secondarily it was hoped that it might help retain the goats.
It was hoped that the goats would actually debark trees in the Valley, particularly the sycamore trees, that is what they were supposed to do, to reduce expensive manual control.
There is no evidence of goats attacking or harming humans; if you approach to close they move away. This may different for dogs not under control worrying the animals. Even in this case F.o.G. produced a leaflet about this, which, again was ignored by The Council. However many were distributed from the previous ENP office in Lyn mouth.
In today’s modern world F.o.G. considers that there are more humane ways of controlling the population, as has been practiced on the Kashmir goats on Orme’s Head in Wales.
Unfortunately the Council cannot order the right cattle grid and only has one solution, a bloody cull. Removal of certain goats would be acceptable if the Council can actually identify these – the last time the wrong goats were culled, selected for their horns which were removed for trophies, and the culprit goats were back in the gardens 3 days later. Management also requires accurate identification, also of the goats culled.
The fouling of the footpaths, particularly of coastal path from North Walk to Castle Rock, could be viewed as a tourist problem. There is a simple solution: the Council’s small tractor could be fitted with a front mounted sweeping brush and the path could be swept clean 1-2 times a week, according to the seasonal needs. F.o.G. would have even have attempted to raise the money for such an attachment – but the Council was not interested.
Lastly, the fouling of the shelter at poets corner has been a problem about which Dr Ridsdale has written many complaints to the Town Clerk that this has not been cleaned and sanitized before the arrival of Easter and May tourists. As the Council has failed to do anything about this F.o.G. has organized a volunteer from the community to do this task for the Council.
So it would seem that F.o.G. has done more for the Community than the Council but still has to put up with unacceptable public abuse at meetings such as the latest Parish Meeting when neither the Mayor or the Town Clerk take no any action to control and prevent unacceptable or abusive comments aimed at the F.o.G. representative, and even permits totally incorrect information to be printed in the Minutes. Is this what one can expect from a "Quality" Council, is this even a representative democracy?
All of this information is available in the public sector. So please, can the Council and the Town Clerk next time get the facts correct and stop misleading people.