Southdown and Eridge Hunt parade through Lewes on Boxing Day

Boxing Day Parade: Southdown and Eridge Hunt defies Lewes council

Sussex’s Southdown and Eridge Hunt is planning to hold its Boxing Day parade on the busy Lewes High Street, even though its request to close the road was denied by Lewes Council.

The Council has instead granted permission for a wheelbarrow race event, which is raising funds for Lewes Foodbank.

After the council rejected its application, the Southdown and Eridge Hunt applied yet again to close the road earlier in the day, between 10am and 10.30am. But the application was later withdrawn. The hunt then announced to its supporters that it would be parading down Lewes High Street at 10am anyway, just before the wheelbarrow event.

The hunt stated:

“We will be leaving the [Brook Street] parking area all together at 9.55am to be escorted up the High Street so please be ready in good time.”

Protect the Wild contacted Lewes Council to ask for a comment. It said:

“The Southdown and Eridge Hunt withdrew their application. I understand that after consulting with police, they have decided to ride through the town anyway. The council’s only involvement is in the granting or refusal of road closure applications.”

We contacted Sussex Police to ask the force whether it was going to escort the hunt, but at the time of publishing this article we had received no reply.

Exposure to pathogens

Action Against Foxhunting (AAF) is organising the wheelbarrow run. The group is, understandably, very concerned that the Southdown and Eridge’s parade will disrupt and endanger participants of the charity event. Although Lewes Council has granted AAF the use of the High Street, it also denied the group permission to close the road beforehand, citing disruption to traffic as the reason. AAF had wanted to prepare the road prior to the event. But with entitled arrogance, the hunt will block the road in the time slot before the wheelbarrow run.

AAF has written an open letter to the hunt, asking it to meet elsewhere. The letter raises concerns about faeces being left on the road, which would expose wheelbarrow race participants to pathogens. And even if the faeces are picked up, they are likely to leave a residue.

The letter also says to the hunt:

“We understand that you have none of these permissions (no road closure) and are occupying the road for the duration of the time of our refused road closure extension. As you have no permissions, there has been no proper scrutiny of your health and safety arrangements. Additionally, we believe that you may be planning to obstruct the highway, which is a criminal offence. Your event will affect transport in Lewes High Street, and may well cause disruption.”

Protect the Wild raised this with Sussex Police, but again received no reply.

The letter finishes:

“Our request is entirely reasonable. We want all the people of Lewes to have fun for a good cause, and it is crucial that it is safe. We hope that you will understand this, and stage your event elsewhere.”


Holderness Hunt hounds kill a fox. Image Hull Wildlife Protectors

Protest Boxing Day hunts across the country

Boxing Day is an important date in hunting’s calendar. It is the time of the year where hunters attempt to change the public’s opinion on fox hunting. They use it as a PR exercise, attempting to sway us all that they are an intrinsic part of rural society. Of course, the public is wising up, and now knows fox hunters for the bloodlust-fuelled fanatics they really are.

AAF and Protect the Wild have spent much of the year campaigning to councils to withdraw permission for hunts to parade this Boxing Day. We commend Lewes Council for its consistent stance against fox hunting; it’s disappointing, but unsurprising, that the Southdown and Eridge Hunt is parading anyway.

If you’re in Sussex you can join in the wheelbarrow run. And if you’re elsewhere in the country, go and protest a hunt’s Boxing Day parade near you. For all details, visit Action Against Foxhunting’s Facebook page.


Header image via screenshot, BBC Southeast News