Someone in Croydon has venomous snakes, and the council has had to fork out more than £600 for inspections before a licence could be issued.The council didn't. We, the taxpayer, did.
So, as a taxpayer, let's look into this in a little more detail, shall we? Surely there's a fee for the licence?
A Freedom of Information response shows that just one dangerous animal licence has been issued in the borough since 2016. It was for venomous snakes.
And it made the council £198 in 2016/17 and £202 the following year from the licence fee.So there is a fee.
But to issue the licence the council had to sort out an inspection of the premises the dangerous wild animal would be kept. In this case a private property rather than a business.
The inspections came at a cost of £298 in 2016/17 and £307 the following year.Right. So the council charges too much for the inspections?
Well, no. They don't set the charges.
A spokeswoman for Croydon Council added: “Like other local authorities, we use the City of London vet service for animal welfare and the fee is set by them.”So the council's blameless? Well...
The licences are issued under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the City of London Corporation is responsible for “ensuring the legislative compliance” for imported animals across the whole of London.
And individual local authorities are responsible for setting the application fee for licences.The solution seems simple, doesn't it? Charge the appropriate fee to cover the full cost of the inspection. It's really not rocket science.
Nor is journalism, if a 'Oooh, hugely costly process for man to keep snakes!' story can be unravelled so easily.