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Yet another attempt to ban a popular festive meet has failed after councillors dismissed a petition demanding it was prevented from going ahead.
The issues were debated by Bungay Town Council, Suffolk, on Thursday 17th November, after an online petition called on councillors to take a position on the popular annual event.
Organised by an anonymous group, the petition contained a large number of signatures from outside the local area and county, with some signing from as far away as Canada and the United States.
It stated: "We [the undersigned] urge Bungay Town Council, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Constabulary and local land-owners to ensure that the hunt is not allowed to parade through the streets this Boxing Day or any other day".
The Waveney Harriers, who have organised the meet for a number of years, were quick to point out in a statement to the media that it was always well attended, with hundreds of local people coming together to show their support, bringing much-needed custom to local businesses in Bungay.
Following discussion among councillors present at the meeting, according to media reports, it was decided that the town council's stance was 'that it did not want to stop the event'.
In an open letter to the town's local paper, The Beccles and Bungay Journal, which was published the week of the council meeting, the Countryside Alliance wrote:
It was disappointing to see a petition circulating online hoping to whip up division by calling for an end to the annual Boxing Day meet in Bungay. Unsurprisingly, a huge number of the signatures come from outside the town and even Suffolk. More peculiar are the signatures from as far away as Canada and the United States. This is a common tactic deployed by animal rights groups, designed to intimate smaller local authorities into bending to their will. The petition's organiser is anonymous and its not clear they live locally either. Claiming their opposition to lawful trail hunting is about animal welfare disguises their true motive. Really, it's about hatred of people. The meet attracts hundreds of local people every year, with families from all walks of life coming together and local businesses benefiting as a result of the heavy footfall. Long may it continue.
Following the meeting, Polly Portwin, Director of the Countryside Alliance's Campaign for Hunting said: "It is right that councillors voted not to stop this popular event from taking place and we thank them for taking this stance. However, it does serve as an important reminder to all hunts and their followers, to constantly be on the lookout for localised campaigns designed to curtail meets and prohibit lawful trail hunting activity on council land. The Countryside Alliance can assist with preventing these ideological attacks, but it requires a group effort, with hunts taking the lead, to see off these threats successfully."
The Countryside Alliance, working with a number of hunts, has successfully seen off threats to trail hunting on council land and has prevented the banning of festive meets across the country, including in Cornwall, North Northamptonshire, Ledbury and Tiverton.