SUPPORT for foxhunting has doubled during the past year.

Membership of the Cheshire Forest Hunt has leapt to almost 300 since their sport was banned.

On Saturday a hunt was arranged for newcomers because so many now want to take part.

Joint master Peter Heaton said: "We had 25 people join us for the first time.

We held fundraising activities throughout the year and had so many people saying they would be interested to ride with us that we arranged this meet."

The hunt's base is at Randle Brooks' Peover Hall estate where 50 hounds are kept in kennels.

Paul Timpson, from the North West Hunt Saboteurs Association, agreed support for the hunts seemed to have grown.

He said: "The hunts have to ask, though, whether that is because they are no longer supposed to be killing foxes."

Labour forced through a ban on foxhunting last year which means the hounds have to follow a false scent trail.

If they do encounter a fox it can be shot or killed by a bird of prey.