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Gloucestershire County Council votes to move trail hunt ban motion to a scrutiny committee, while rejecting its anti-hunt wording

Gloucestershire County Councillors have today (Wednesday 13 September) rejected the terms of a motion proposed by a Labour Councillor, however, have agreed for the future of hunting on land owned by the council to be decided by their Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

In June, a motion was proposed by a Labour councillor which aimed to ban trail hunting, hound exercise and other lawful hunting from taking place on land owned by Gloucestershire County Council.

At the time, the Countryside Alliance - which has thousands of members across Gloucestershire - and members of the hunting community lobbied councillors to urge them to vote against this motion which was subsequently not debated because the meeting ran out of time.

A slightly revised motion was put forward to today’s meeting of the council which stated: “Council is opposed to the use of Gloucestershire County Council land for trail hunting, exempt hunting, as defined in Section 2 and Schedule 1 of the Hunting Act 2004, hound exercise and hunt meets and asks Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee to establish a cross party working group to consider, and make recommendations to Council, on any actions that could be taken in respect of this matter.”

At today’s meeting, councillors voted for the discussion about the future of trail hunting on land owned by the council to be considered by the council’s Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee. However, when moving an amendment to the original motion proposed by Labour Cllr Wendy Thomas, the Leader of the Council made it quite clear that the vote was not in support of the motion’s original wording.

Cllr Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council said:

“The reason we are moving the procedural motion is because we feel that if we vote for the motion [as it stands], not only would we be agreeing to some of the terms made within the motion around the issue of hunting and also the issue of the rights of our tenants and we don’t want to do that. If we are going to have an honest and open debate, we don’t go to an honest and open debate with a prerequisite which has already been written out and agreed by the council. We want this to go to Corporate Overviews to have a full and open and thorough debate on all of issues.”

A similar motion had been proposed in North Yorkshire back in July which was referred to its scrutiny committee which met on Monday, 11 September, to discuss the motion.

After the debate had taken place, the decision made by the scrutiny committee was to recommend to Full Council that trail hunting on land owned by North Yorkshire Council should continue.

Polly Portwin, Director of the Countryside Alliance’s Action for Hunting campaign said:

“We welcome news that Gloucestershire County Council did not agree with the terms of the motion which proposed to ban trail hunting on council-owned land. As councillors in North Yorkshire agreed earlier this week, there can be no justification for banning or restricting a lawful activity on council-owned land or imposing unnecessary terms on their tenant farmers.

“We urge Gloucestershire councillors to stand up for their rural constituents in the face of divisive calls to have their way of life curtailed and hope that when presented for scrutiny, these malicious calls to ban trail hunting are rejected, as they have been by other councils like North Yorkshire. It is wrong for Labour councillors to dismiss the significant social and economic benefits that lawful hunting brings to the Gloucestershire countryside and to go beyond their remit by legislating for the sake of it.”

Attempts to ban trail hunting on council land in North Northamptonshire, Cornwall and Essex have all failed.

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