Keith Arthur: Why angling must be run by anglers

It’s a shame that the EA budget is likely to be slashed by an amount of money. However, if this impacts directly on angling I may well join Des Taylor and refuse to buy a rod licence ¬ only for a vastly different reason.

The money spent on angling is our money, with a small proportion coming from grant-in-aid from Government. When they were in opposition the Conservatives were condemnatory of those grant-in-aid cuts ¬ indeed they suggested that they would abandon the rod licence and pay for everything directly from the Exchequer.

Of course there are many people who think that would be a great idea but I think this is the first major warning what a huge disaster that would be. If there are to be cuts, you can guess where they would fall, especially as the minor party in the coalition, the Liberal Democrats, aren’t particularly keen on angling at all.

Every part of this makes me believe even more fervently that we should take the running of fisheries away from the Government altogether ¬ let angling decide how angling’s money is spent. A strong Angling Trust is the only way forward and that is becoming ever-clearer. Trust membership must be the requirement to fish, a rod licence in everything but name, and we could then make sure that fisheries income went on fisheries, not canoe access points, cycle paths, backwaters around hydro-electric schemes and so on. It would also definitely be less top-heavy, administratively, than a Government agency.

In its last incarnation the Tory party removed Government control on many industries and businesses that had been under state management for decades.

Privatisation was the thing. I think this could be the time to press for a new piece of family silver to be disposed of, only this time, rather than donate it to ravenous shareholders, let it go to concerned stakeholders.