Published: 14:15, 13 September 2017
The mayor at the centre of a row over whether his new civic robe should be made of real fur has branded his current one "old, smelly and horrible when it rains" - but insists he'd be happy with a fake fur replacement.
Hythe town mayor Paul Peacock said he is "completely against" the use of real fur and strongly opposes the killing of animals – to the extent he is even weaning himself off meat.
It comes following a public backlash to Hythe town councillors rubber-stamping the purchase of a £1,430 robe, which could be made with either real muskrat fur or fake fur.
In a joint statement, Cllr Peacock and Mayoress Wendy Peacock, who also served as mayor in 2004, said: “The robe is old and smelly. It’s made with real fur, so can you imagine what it’s like when it rains?”
Mr Peacock added: “I’m not one for the killing of animals. I rarely eat meat anymore, I’m slowly weaning off it.
“I urge the town council to decide on a robe made without real fur.”
He welcomed an open letter penned today by animal rights campaigners Respect for Animals, protesting against the use of real fur.
The letter says: “The use of one of the most common traps used to catch animals for their fur has also been banned for many years, due to its cruelty.
“There simply is no such thing as ‘humane’ fur.
“Trappers commonly use ‘drowning sets’, where traps are set in a way designed to drown, and the muskrats and other semi-aquatic mammals like mink and beaver caught in them.
“Muskrats can take up to five minutes to drown in these traps.”
It goes on to label the traps "truly cruel" and asks Hythe Town Council (HTC) to scrap the plans.
Meanwhile, Hawkinge Town Council is planning to return a purple civic robe on loan from HTC.
But Mr Peacock says he won’t be able to wear it because it’s the wrong colour.
Mrs Peacock explained: “As a Cinque Port town we have our mayoral robes in red, it’s tradition.
“By changing that we are moving into territory where we are changing the customs of the town.”
Mrs Peacock, who has tried to repair the current robe, added: “It is disintegrating.
“It’s coming away from the seams. The council did ask me to repair it and I’ve done everything I can.
“It is so old – I wore the same one when I was mayor in 2004.”
Council members will decide on the new robe at Hythe Town Hall from 6.45pm on Tuesday.
The options are £1,430 for a trimmed black velvet and musquash robe or £1,180 for trimmed black velvet and fake fur.
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