Animal welfare campaigners protest in Leek and at Apesford farm

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Animal welfare protesters took to the streets of Leek to demand the permanent closure of an abattoir and visited a farm where they allege poor treatment of animals.

Around 70 protesters gathered outside the town’s Nicholson War Memorial demanding that S Bagshaw and Sons abattoir in Butterton remains closed.

The abattoir is under investigation after footage secretly shot by Hillside Animal Sanctuary showed workers at the slaughterhouse kicking and punching sheep, cows and pigs.

Some of the animals also appear not to have been properly stunned in the footage.

Staffordshire Police and the Food Standards Agency are investigating and a man was arrested and bailed in connection with the case.

Protester Andrew Winston-Jones, 22, organised the protest on Facebook along with his mother, 47-year-old Ruth Winston-Jones.

He travelled to Leek from Holyhead in North Wales.

He said: “It is a fantastic turnout.

“We’ve got people from all over the country here.”

Mrs Winston-Jones added: “There are meant to be standards in slaughterhouses, where people work by the rules,

“The animals should not be watching each other die.”

The protesters marched through Derby Street, the town’s main shopping street, handing out leaflets to passers-by before marching through the market place.

Demonstrators also highlighted conditions at nearby Apesford farm, Bradnop.

The protesters, accompanied by police on a public right of way, visited the farm and claim they found several dead animals lying near a flock of live sheep and lambs, as well as a rotting corpse of a chicken in a nearby shed.

Protester Nicola Allen, 36, did say the farm was now in a better state than it had been on a previous occasion.

StaffsLive attempted to contact the farm’s owners, but they declined to comment.

A Staffordshire Police officer at the farm said he had contacted animal welfare organisations.

He added: “It is up to them what course of action they take and we will support them in that action.”

(Additional reporting by Robert Smith)

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