by Countryside Alliance

Attempts by anonymous anti-hunting activists to pressure local councils into prohibiting trail hunting and popular Boxing Day meets have failed.

Last night it was confirmed that Battle Town Council had agreed to grant permission to the East Sussex & Romney Marsh Hunt to meet on a local green, as it has done for many years. The discussion between councillors had been triggered after it received emails from members of the public requesting that the event be stopped.

It is unclear how many people had written in to the Town Council to raise objections, nor whether they were locally based. After the agenda had been published online, the Countryside Alliance and local hunt supporters contacted the council directly to outline support for the meet. A letter to the Town Clerk from Tim Bonner, the Alliance’s Chief Executive, said: “The East Sussex & Romney Marsh Hunt’s Boxing Day parade is a highlight in the festive social calendar for a huge number of local people. It is enjoyed by people from all walks of life and by both those that regularly follow the local hunt and by those that are simply interested in the spectacle itself. Visitors attending the meet on Boxing Day also generate important revenue for local shops and businesses.”

Mr Bonner urged the council to continue its working relationship with the hunt and raised concerns over how a small number of objections could trigger the end of a lawful meet.

Last week, a similar attempt to stop the Ledbury Hunt from meeting on Ledbury High Street was voted on by councillors. Councillors discussed whether to urge Herefordshire Council to prohibit the historic event off the back of ‘several’ emails from activists, but voted against the move.

In the same week, councillors in North Northamptonshire voted overwhelmingly against a Labour-backed motion to ban local hunts from accessing council-owned land for their lawful trail hunting ativities.

Cheshire West and Chester Council received criticism from opposition councillors after its Labour-controlled executive banned hunts from using their land, despite the authority not owning land on which hunts operate.

The decision was branded a “waste of time” and “political grandstanding at the expense of local residents”. Hunts in Cheshire use private land and can continue to apply to the council in relation to Boxing Day meets.

Polly Portwin, the Alliance’s Director of Hunting said: “We would like to thank the hundreds of local people across the country who have written directly to their local representatives to express support for trail hunting and Boxing Day meets. Animal rights activists routinely target local councils, but are often anonymous and seldom live in the local area. Thankfully, most councillors see through this tactic.

“You can use our live e-lobby to write to your local councillors urging them to protect the future of trail hunting on council-owned and managed land by clicking here.”

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