Yesterday (21 June) the Ashby Show committee voted to allow scheduled hound parades to take place. The show will take place at Cattows Farm on Sunday, 9th July and the Atherstone Hunt, North Warwickshire Beagles and the Dove Valley Mink Hounds will be taking part in the hound parade.
The vote followed a campaign headed by associates of the West Midlands Hunt Saboteur group and other anti-hunting activists. There were also claims of “threatening and bullying messages at those involved with the organisation of the show”, across a number of different social media platforms.
The Cattows Farm also claims to have been the victims of a barrage of abuse and false statements, in a public statement they said: “We have been vilified beyond belief to the extent where we have taken police advice on the matter”.
In response to the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs campaign of abuse and intimidation, hunting supporters and local community members ran their own campaign to support the Ashby Show with one hunt supporter commenting on the Ashby Show Facebook page: “Keep the hound parades. This traditional love of horse and hound bring numerous adults and children together. We should not be pushed out by a very few people who are totally ignorant of the good hunts continue to do for us country people.” This is Hunting UK and the Countryside Alliance were particularly active in pointing out the benefits of hound parades. Nonetheless, many were concerned that the organisers of the show might cave in to the aggressive tactics employed by the anti-hunting activists. However, yesterday evening the Committee released the following statement:
“As many of you are aware, the Ashby Agricultural Society has faced increasing pressure from the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs and their supporters to remove the Atherstone Hunt, North Warks Beagles and the Dove Valley Mink Hounds from the main ring schedule and to cancel their trade stands.
“As a society, we ensure that every event is fully compliant with UK law. Therefore, having carefully reviewed the situation, we see no reason to make any changes to our 2017 show and look forward to another successful event.”
Following the Show committee’s decision, Head of Hunting at the Alliance, Polly Portwin, commented:
“We are delighted that the show organisers have not bowed to bullying from anti-hunting activists and there will still be a hound parade at this year’s Ashby Show.
“The hunting community is an integral part of rural life and it’s vital that the presence of hunts at public events is not confined to the history books.
“Hound parades are incredibly popular at events throughout the summer season and most hunts parade a number of times at various events. They often present a great opportunity for hunts to explain to the general public and those that have little or no understanding about hunting, about how hunts operate legally within the confines of the Hunting Act and also encourage newcomers.”
Simon Green MH, joint-master of the North Warwickshire Beagles, commented:
“In tackling this issue we have built up support from nearly 2,500 people from the wider hunting world as well as the local hunting and farming communities, however, the greatest support has come from people that live in the local towns and villages who are not known to us but have contacted the show organisers to come out in favour of the hound parade.
A spokesman for the Alliance added:
“Whilst happy with the committee’s decision, it’s sad that both the show organisers and landowners have been abused and threatened across a number of social media channels. Such vile and intimidatory behaviour has no place in society and it’s of great importance that people take a stand against it. It’s heartening that such a widespread coalition of support, from both the hunting and non-hunting world, has assembled to support the hound shows and to take a stand.”