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Mid Devon District Council should ban the Tiverton Hunt from parading this Boxing Day

The Christmas season is approaching surprisingly quickly, and hunts across the country are preparing for what is supposedly their most prestigious meets of the year: Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Protect the Wild and Action Against Foxhunting are urging Mid Devon District Council to ban the Tiverton Hunt from parading through Tiverton town centre.

Despite the hunting ban coming into force in 2005, hunts have continued to kill foxes and other wildlife illegally, largely with impunity. Under the smokescreen that they’re trail hunting – that is, that the hounds follow an artificially-laid scent – it’s been business as usual for packs for almost twenty years. It’s so widely known that hunts consistently break the law that a number of major landowners, such as the National Trust, have banned trail hunting on their land. The Tiverton is just one hunt that has flouted landowners’ bans since they came in (see here).

So it should follow that councils – who have a duty to listen to the public and act accordingly – should also ban hunting on their land.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Mid Devon Council is largely supportive of the Tiverton Hunt. Protect the Wild asked the council whether it would ban the hunt from parading. It replied:

“The Council recognises that the Boxing Day parade of the Tiverton Hunt, which meets near the Half Moon pub at Tiverton Pannier Market, takes place on land which generally has public access. The Council is also aware that a significant number of people attend the event to support the parade. The Council’s understanding is that no illegal activity takes place at the meeting which would support the Council considering a ban on such a meeting.”

Like other councils that we have contacted, Mid Devon Council has ignored our main point: that hunts use the excuse of trail hunting as an excuse to illegally hunt real foxes. Whether this happens at the Boxing Day meet or not should be irrelevant to the Council.

While stating that “a significant number of people attend the event to support the parade”, the Council is also ignoring that a large number of people attend Boxing Day meets across the country to protest them, including in Tiverton. A large section of the public sees hunting as a cruel and outdated pastime that has no place in modern society.

 

Council motion

Last year, councillor Andy Perris submitted a motion to ban Tiverton Hunt’s Boxing Day meet in 2022, underpinning key points that are still relevant in 2023. He said:

“[Tiverton Hunt’s Boxing Day meet] is undertaken without the usual permission for street collections and road closures; and no risk assessment or plan to clean up after the event.”

He continued:

“Anyone who organises an event in our town is required to complete risk assessments, permissions for street collections and road closures and a plan for cleaning after the event. The hunt has met in Tiverton on boxing day for many years but has never done any of these things. Why is there one rule for them and many rules for everyone else?”

Perris went on to point out to councillors that trail hunting is just a guise to allow hunts to illegally kill foxes. He concluded:

“Hunting foxes is barbaric and should be consigned to history.”

The council rejected the motion after councillors were contacted by the Countryside Alliance, and the Tiverton Hunt paraded as usual. The hunt said:

“The rejection of this motion was substantial and sends a clear message that Tiverton councillors are supportive of the rural way of life. The Tiverton Hunt looks forward to meeting again in the town this year and welcoming families from across the community to join us in what is always a fantastic spectacle and a much-loved festive tradition.”

It is a typical tactic of hunters, to describe their gruesome blood sport using fluffy language, with descriptions of a “rural way of life” and “tradition”. Hunts, along with their lobbyist pals in the Countryside Alliance, continue to try to fool the public that hunting is a quaint, harmless hobby, loved by tweed-wearing adults and children alike.

This Boxing Day, too, will be vital for hunts across the country to try to garner public support. The PR exercise often backfires, either through drunken hunt supporters, or because protesters show the hunts up for what they really are.

Show your opposition

By allowing the Tiverton Hunt to meet on public land in 2023, Mid Devon District Council will be sending a clear message to the public: that it endorses a brutally cruel blood sport. The Council might kid itself into believing that the Boxing Day meet is a “festive tradition”. But for foxes and other wildlife that find themselves in hounds’ paths, 26 December is a day of terror.

 

  • Help us persuade Mid Devon District Council to ban the Tiverton Hunt from parading. You can sign the petition here.