Life before death: Lewes Council chooses food bank over fox hunting

December 8, 2023
Eliza Egret
Southdown and Eridge Hunt parade through Lewes on Boxing Day

The Southdown and Eridge Hunt has failed to get permission from Lewes Council to close a road for its annual Boxing Day parade. The reason? An animal welfare campaigner is closing the road for the community.

The hunt parades through Lewes town centre every year. It had applied for the road closure on Lewes High Street between 10.45 am and 11.45 am this 26 December, obviously thinking that permission would be granted. But an Action Against Foxhunting (AAF) campaigner applied to the council too – for a much better cause.

Life not death

Hunts consistently try to convince the British public that they are following ‘rural tradition’, and they use their Boxing Day parades as major PR stunts to try to pull off this image. In reality, Protect the Wild readers will know that hunts across the country consistently break the law, murdering foxes week in, week out.

And so it is fitting that the campaigner has announced that she has closed the road for a wheelbarrow race, which is surely also in keeping with rural tradition! The race will gather locals together and raise crucial funds for the local food bank. AAF told Protect the Wild:

“This event is all about the food bank and not about fox hunting. People need something fun to do on Boxing Day – something uncontroversial and worthwhile. Everybody can join in the fun – no matter who they are or what they normally do on Boxing Day.”

By choosing the food bank over hunting and potentially drunken hunt supporters, the council is, essentially, choosing to support life, not death. The funds raised from the event will be vital for the food bank to be able to provide essential staple foods to the poorest people in the community.

Council integrity

After the rejection, the Southdown and Eridge Hunt made a second application to the Council to close the road earlier in the day, between 10 am and 10.30 am. But the application was withdrawn this week.

Lewes Council continues to do the right thing and puts its community over fox hunting. Earlier this year, it showed that it was listening to the public when it introduced its new Animal Welfare Policy banning hunts from its land. The new legislation reads:

“The Council encourages safe riding of horses where permission has been expressly granted by land-owners and on town bridle-ways.

The Council does not permit hunts of any type on its land. This is due to disruption and distress (whether or not intended) of wild and domestic animal causes.”

Violence and law-breaking

Hunt saboteurs have caught the Southdown and Eridge Hunt’s field riders abusing horses  – either by kicking them, or forcing them to ride injured. Sabs have also filmed the hunt’s supporters carrying out numerous acts of violence over the years. And in November 2021, a young sab was attacked by four of the hunt’s terriermen. They punched and kicked her, then stole her phone and glasses. Sabs have also reported being attacked by rocks and sticks.

Such violence shows that the hunt should never be trusted to parade on public land on any Boxing Day in the future.

On top of this, the hunt recently amalgamated with East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt. Earlier this year, that hunt’s hounds were caught rioting onto sheep while staff did nothing. At the same meet, the hounds also blocked a busy public road. And last year a member of the public caught the hunt’s hounds killing a fox.


Lewes Council’s decision not to grant the hunt permission to parade is extremely significant. It gives the public hope at a time when it is easy to feel despair. The council is showing that residents’ voices matter, and that there is no longer a place in modern society for such a barbaric, outdated blood sport.

We can only hope that other councils will also follow suit and prioritise the local community over those who tear up foxes.

  • Header image screenshot BBC Southeast News





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