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North Yorkshire councillors vote overwhelmingly against motion to ban lawful trail hunting

At their Full Council meeting on 15 November 2023, North Yorkshire councillors voted overwhelmingly against a motion to ban lawful hunting activities on land owned by the council, despite a last-minute attempt to derail it. 

It comes after months of uncertainty for the county’s rural community and a recommendation in September by the authority’s Corporate and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee, which voted not to recommend a ban to Full Council. 

Despite this recommendation – which was published in the agenda pack ahead of the Full Council meeting - Labour councillor Cllr Rich Maw, who proposed the original motion, decided to put forward a last-minute amendment at the meeting which would have permitted trail hunting to continue but would have banned the use of animal-based scent.

In line with the council’s constitution, the amended motion was moved then subsequently debated but it was rejected when it came to the vote. During the debate, one councillor spoke out about abuse he had faced from anti-hunting extremists.

With the amended motion failing, and in line with the council’s constitution, the original motion returned to the table to be voted upon. This motion called on the council to “ban trail hunting, exempt hunting, hound exercise and hunt meets outright across all council land where legally possible, including any NEW tenancies where there are positive covenants attached to the land that currently require the council as owner to allow trail hunting events and formal gatherings.” 

The motion was defeated with 47 councillors voting against, with 26 votes in favour. 

In response to the outcome of the vote, Polly Portwin, Director of the Campaign for Hunting at the Countryside Alliance said:

“While we are pleased that North Yorkshire Council has finally kicked this divisive motion out, we are incredibly disappointed that so much vital council time and resources has been wasted on debating a lawful activity. 

“To be frank, Cllr Maw should apologise for demonizing significant swathes of North Yorkshire’s rural community. In the future he should use his time as an elected member to pursue an agenda which benefits the people living in the Weaponness & Ramshill division.” 

“On behalf of the hunting community in North Yorkshire and beyond, we would like to extend our thanks to those councillors who spoke out to protect lawful hunting activities on land across North Yorkshire, highlighting the important part that trail hunting plays in rural communities and across the countryside, both socially and economically.”

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