Tory Steve Charmley, a former dairy farmer, objects to ads in counties ‘built on agriculture’
Buses should not carry adverts promoting vegan lifestyles in counties that were “built on agriculture”, a senior councillor has declared.
The Shropshire deputy council leader, Steve Charmley, said in a series of tweets that he wanted to “stop this vegangalism” after a number of Arriva buses in the county featured ads encouraging people to stop eating meat and dairy.
“C’mon Arriva Salop it’s a disgrace to run this advert in Shropshire,” the longtime former dairy farmer tweeted. “You are being used to promote the fake news of vegangalists! If it was a political poster it wouldn’t be allowed.”
His comments prompted criticism online and from the group that paid for the ads, one of which said: “Cows must be made pregnant to produce milk, and grieve when their babies are taken away. Most male calves are of no use to the dairy industry and are shot at birth.”
In a statement, Shropshire Veggies and Vegans said it also supported farming in the county, and the campaign – which is in its second year – was designed to get people thinking about veganism.
“It is a real shame that this year a local Shrewsbury councillor has decided that we are trying to discredit farmers in Shropshire,” said Michelle D’Arcy Jewell, a member of the group. “There is no reason we can’t feel proud of that agriculture.
“With the future of the planet at stake through climate change, it is pretty clear that everyone needs to significantly reduce, if not cut out all together, the animal products that they eat and we would like to encourage local farmers to take advantage of the rise in veganism and grow more vegan crops.”
Speaking on Saturday, Charmley stood by his remarks, but recognised these issues often provoke impassioned debate. “It’s a very emotive topic and people get upset about things they get passionate about,” he said. “In a way I’m just pushing back because I’m passionate about the dairy industry, as the vegans are about Veganuary.”
He reiterated that he does not object to anyone choosing what they eat and when they eat it.
Arriva said it would be happy to meet Charmley to discuss his grievances, adding that the third-party that runs its advertising was looking into the issue.
“Advertising on our buses is managed by a third-party company, which works with us to ensure the messages we display onboard our fleet do not cause offence to our passengers or the general public,” a spokesperson said.
“We take all complaints and customer feedback seriously and we are working with the third party to investigate.”