Bird show grounded

BIRD flu has claimed its first ''victim'' in the local area.

Organisers of Linlithgow Cage Bird Society's popular annual show have had to scrap the event, due to be held this weekend at Linlithgow Academy.

John Braid, Society treasurer, said the risks involved, combined with the difficulty of meeting tough new regulations, led to the cancellation.

He said: "If one bird with symptoms was found they would have to quarantine all the birds, and if it turned out to be bird flu they would have to put them all down. Some of the birds are very expensive and it would have been a terrible risk.

"The Scottish Executive sent a letter telling us to take precautions. They didn't want us to have foreign birds, but we depend on them for making the show.

"We could still have had a show if we'd applied for a licence from West Lothian Council, but we weren't sure what was happening.

''Also, with it being held in a school, there was that factor as well, so we decided to cancel. We're disappointed — a lot of work went into the organisation."

The Cage Bird Society have offered to return sponsorship money to the event's backers, but hope most will let them keep the cash for next year's display.

Mr Braid added: "A lot of shows have had to be cancelled including the Scottish National Show, so we're not the only ones affected.

"We're hoping it will go ahead again next year, and we'll be able to keep the same judges."