COUNCIL chiefs are ‘considering the options’ after being urged to ban hunt meetings on public land.

The League Against Cruel Sports has written to Cllr Samantha Dixon, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, calling on the local authority to ban hunts on land in its jurisdiction.

It comes three weeks after the Cheshire Hunt’s Boxing Day event in Tarporley, which drew crowds of both supporters and protesters in the village.

The campaign group alleges foxes are still being harmed by hunts, and it suggests that hunts and protestors meeting in town and village centres cause ‘chaotic scenes’ that could harm residents.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “A number of local authorities – including Tetbury Council and Elham Council – have already committed to not allowing fox hunts to meet or parade on public land under their jurisdiction.

“With 85 per cent of the public opposing fox hunting, there is clear support for CWAC to follow these examples and instead allow only cruelty-free entertainment in Tarporley.”

In an Ipsos Mori poll commissioned by the league in 2017, 85 per cent of respondents supported maintaining the current ban on the use of dogs to hunt foxes and other wild mammals – brought in by the Labour Government in 2004.

The law does allow the practice of ‘trail hunting’ where hunts lay down a scent for hounds to follow – and no foxes should be chased, harmed or killed as a result.

Cllr Eveleigh Moore Dutton, CWAC member for Tarporley, believes the hunts should be allowed as long as they are carried out legally.


The independent councillor said: “I am an animal lover, I don’t like cruelty at all.

“It is a very contentious subject.

“As long as they are obeying the law I don’t have a problem with it.

“If they do break the law and cause a nuisance then they should be dealt with like anyone else.

“The law applies equally to everyone.

“There are people that don’t like the hunt but they have never made a formal complaint to me ever.

“I spoke to the PCSO and he has had no complaints either.

“It seems to be that a lot of people think the hunt is still doing what it used to do before the ban, but if it is then it is breaking the law.”

The League Against Cruel Sports claims it has received 151 reports of illegal hunting around the country since November 1, 2018.

Cllr Stephen Burns, Labour member for Winsford Swanlow and Dene, said: “As far as I’m concerned I would be quite happy with a ban of all forms of hunting.


“I don’t see any value or purpose in it in 2019.”

Asked whether the council would consider banning hunting on public land, a CWAC spokesman said: “The council is discussing the issue with partners and considering the options.”

The Cheshire Hunt says that it operates within the law under the Hunting Act 2004, and that it prioritises public safety.

A spokesman said: “Health and safety is of the upmost importance to the hunt and arrangements are always put in place to enable our activities to be conducted in a safe, legal and sensible way.

“The Boxing Day meet is such a special day for the rural community that it would be a travesty if CWAC was pressurised to cancel this popular festive event.”

Polly Portwin, head of hunting at the Countryside Alliance, added: “Recent Boxing Day meets yet again proved to be as popular as ever across the country with estimates of over a quarter of a million people supporting their local packs of hounds.

“Anti-hunting organisations and activists are however still intent on sabotaging perfectly legal hunting activities carried out by hunts by making spurious allegations to damage the reputation of hunts.

“Despite the obvious support for hunting, which was evident in towns and public places throughout the festive period, it is unsurprising that the anti-hunting lobby has resorted to putting pressure on local councils and councillors, however we urge those councils coming under attack to continue to liaise with their local packs of hounds to secure the future of these popular meets in the future.”