AN animal rights group has claimed Wyre Forest District Council is a “soft touch” for allowing a reptile sale to take place.

Similar events have been banned across the country over concerns for animal welfare and illegal market trading.

The Animal Protection Agency (APA), which campaigns against the trade in wild animals as pets, has criticised the council for permitting the show, which was held last Sunday at the Forest Glades Leisure Centre.

The council has denied claims that illegal sales of reptiles and amphibians took place.

Elaine Toland, director of the APA, said: “Dealers will view Wyre Forest District Council as a soft touch. There’s not many of these events left in the country. Wyre Forest is out on its own in refusing to take any action.”

She added: “We are not letting the council off the hook. They have refused to engage with us and refused to process our complaint, which is playground behaviour.”

Marcus Hart , the council’s cabinet member for environmental services, said: “It is inaccurate to say the council is not corresponding with the APA.

“I have been copied in on a number of emails sent between the APA and Ian Miller, chief executive of the council.

They could also have contacted me directly as a cabinet member.”

The Central Reptile and Exotic Animal Keepers' Society (CREAKS) held the event, claiming only private breeders were allowed to trade.

APA said such events were fundamentally commercial in nature and therefore, trading should not take place at all.

Mr Hart added: “The APA and the district council hold different views on the event and, therefore, the APA cannot think it is right to bombard the district council with emails.

“It is not for the district council to ban events even though we are the landlord of the leisure centre. The operators who run the Glades take commercial decisions about what events will be held in the venue.

“If something illegal has taken place, Worcestershire Regulatory Services will look into it.