THE campaign to ban foie gras from York's shops and restaurants has been taken to Downing Street.

The councillor behind the campaign has launched a petition calling for the French delicacy to be banned from sale.

Paul Blanchard tabled a motion before City of York Council earlier this year, calling on the authority to do all it could to stop the product - which is the liver of force-fed ducks and geese - being sold in the city.

The council deferred the issue, while officers prepared a report on it, and now Coun Blanchard has taken his campaign nationwide.

He launched his petition on Wednesday and, within hours, hundreds of people had signed their support.

Coun Blanchard said: "I wanted York to send out the message that it did not tolerate animal cruelty, and was disappointed that the ruling Liberal Democrat group was scared of having the debate.

"Issues like this should be above party politics, which is why I asked the Green Party to second my motion, which they gladly did.

"In the meantime, I'm taking the fight straight to the top. Tony Blair's own minister responsible for animal welfare, Ben Bradshaw, has publicly agreed with me that foie gras is cruel and even called for a consumer boycott.

"The only problem is that he thinks a ban is not possible under EU law.

"Well, although I'm grateful for his support, I must disagree with him on that point. We are a sovereign nation with our own parliament, and we can ban anything we like. All we need is the political will to be there."

Council leader Steve Galloway said he thought many Lib Dems sympathised with the motion, but said: "Unfortunately, the City of York Council operates under a different legal system to local authorities in other parts of the world, including the city of Chicago, which has been quoted by some during the debate on this issue.

Specifically, we have no powers to ban the sale of foie gras in York."

He added: "We do support efforts to take cruelty out of all food production, and we have, therefore, asked for an officer report to be prepared which will indicate what steps, if any, a local authority can currently, and independently, take."

When today's copy of The Press went to print the petition had been signed by 672 people.

Coun Blanchard said: "I've been really pleased with the number of signatures so far.

"At one point, it was growing by 100 signatures an hour."

The petition can be viewed and/or signed at