Mounted field riders with the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt gather in a town centre.

16 Dec 2022

Rob Pownall. Founder, Protect the Wild :

Somerset County Council (SCC) is using powers meant for emergency roadworks to help Boxing Day hunt parades go ahead this year. The revelation broke on 14 December after Action Against Foxhunting (AAF) met with SCC’s highways officer.



Action Against FoxhuntingAAF told Protect the Wild that the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt, Cotley Harriers and Seavington Foxhounds will go ahead with their Boxing Day parades in Castle Cary, Chard and Crewkerne respectively despite not submitting requests to the council in time.

Boxing Day hunt parades see the hunt and its riders take their packs of hounds through the streets in the centre of town. Despite the hunt occupying much of the roads and their supporters taking up the pavements, the parades have traditionally taken place without official event or road closure applications.

Pip Donovan of AAF told SCC in a meeting on 23 November that, when observing the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt during its 2021 Boxing Day parade that the hunt obstructed the highway, illegally used marshals to direct traffic, rode horses the wrong way up a one-way street, brought unreliable horses to the meet, and allowed their dogs to run free amongst children and all over the road.

As a result Donovan said SCC had told one town council that hunts would need proper road closures for their 2022 Boxing Day parades.

No applications were made by the hunts but on 14 December Donovan was told by SCC’s Highways Officer that the Council would be facilitating the hunt parades anyway, using emergency road closure powers under Section 14(2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act.

Responding to the news, Rob Pownall of Protect the Wild said, “just when you think things couldn’t get any more ridiculous we hear that emergency powers are being used to facilitate hunt parades through town centres. It’s beyond a joke. If you needed yet more evidence of there being one rule for hunts and one rule for everyone else then here it is.

UPDATE: Protect the Wild and AAF jointly published a letter calling on Somerset County Council to reverse their decision. More than 2000 letters were sent in just three days, and in an update sent to us the Council confirmed that the hunts would not now be allowed to close public roads and would be holding theor ‘paraes’ on private roads instead. THANKYOU to everyine who helped the Council make the right decision

Protect the Wild is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2015 by Rob Pownall. The organisation works to end hunting and shooting in the UK. For more information