Bridgewater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has had to hand in his guns after neglecting to renew his firearms licence after a reminder.

The MP has accused Avon and Somerset police of ‘utter incompetence’ after learning it will take a minimum of 16 weeks for a new issue although he was sent a courtesy reminder by the force that the certificate for his rifles and shotguns had expired.

Mr Liddell-Grainer commented: “Forgetting to check and renew a licence in time is a simple mistake that anyone can make – and I make mistakes like everyone else,”.

“I’ve told the police I am handing the guns in for safe keeping and they are happy with that. But I cannot believe how long it’s going take to deal with a simple renewal of an existing certificate.

“I’ve got the form and I’ve filled it in but you cannot simply hand these things in at your local police station any more: they have to be posted off. When I rang the police to see how long it would take to get the new permit I was absolutely appalled.

“An unrealistically long time”

“Sixteen weeks to complete one piece of paperwork looks like utter incompetence. I told the officer I thought it was an unrealistically long time and he just said the police had lots of other things to do. I could almost hear the shrug down the phone.

“When I mentioned the fact that I was a MP it was suggested that if the Government gave the force some more money they might be able to get these things done more quickly.”

“It’s not so serious for me because I only shoot for a hobby. But for gamekeepers or farmers with vermin problems who could easily find themselves in a similar situation 16 weeks is a totally unacceptable delay,” he said.

In the meantime, Mr Liddell-Grainger says he plans to raise the matter with Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Sadly he will also miss out on the shooting season.