| England's ceremonial mayors eschew fur to support animal rights|
|Animal fur may remain fashionable on catwalks, but lord mayors and other senior council figures in England have been happy to eschew haute couture by dropping its use or going faux.|
A check in the wardrobes of civic leaders has revealed eight do not have robes with fur, five use clothing with synthethic fur, and other authorities are reviewing their practice.
The survey of 23 lord mayors was carried out by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), which is still awaiting answers from some, including Roger Gifford of London.
Peta's associate director Mimi Bekhechi said: "It's important that public figures set a positive example, and by saying no to fur, these mayors have made it clear that animals deserve respect.
"Animals raised for fur suffer every day of their lives before they endure a painful and terrifying death."
The office of the lord mayor of Plymouth, Vivien Pengelly, said she had two sets of robes. "The black and gold robes, which are used for major civic or ceremonial events do not have any fur. The red robes are due to be refurbished and will be embellished with a fake fur band".
Officials in York said: "We are in possession of a number of older ceremonial robes worn by the sheriff of York and honorary aldermen, which do have some very old fur trim. However, the sheriff's robe is due to go for refurbishment, and the fur trim will be replaced with a synthetic fur, as is our policy.
"In addition, last year we acquired a new ceremonial cap of maintenance which is worn by our sword bearer … This was a brand new commission and was made with synthetic fur. Any future purchases and refurbishment of old robes and ceremonial wear will continue in this way, as we support animal rights fully."
In Hull, the lord mayor's red robe is trimmed only with gold braid, Peta was told, but six older red robes worn rarely by other senior council members were trimmed by fur. "We are unable to replace these at the present time as we have no funds available, but if and when we do, will certainly consider using faux fur," a council official said.
The survey came after the mayor of Wrexham, David Bithell, neither a "lord" nor in England, abandoned his gown with muskrat after being questioned by a Peta supporter.
Peta said most Britons opposed real fur. "So strong is our moral objection to cruelly killing animals for their skin that parliament passed an act banning fur-farming more than a decade ago. If council leaders wear fur-trimmed robes, it not only goes against British values but also diminishes the meaning of the ban."
Some designers, such as Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, do not use fur but the British Fur Trade Association (BFTA) said 400 worldwide did. "Those who include fur, which is over 75% of all major fashion brands, do so because it enhances their business." Such designers were "more than satisfied" by the welfare standards of the industry.
BFTA's members trade more than £1bn worth of animal fur a year, including with China, Hong Kong, Russia and other EU countries, while UK retail fur sales have increased by 30% year on year. Global sales for 2011-2012 totalled US $15.6bn (£10.2bn), according to the International Fur Trade Federation.