THE 800 people who gathered to watch a traditional Boxing Day hunt in a village near Uttoxeter are proof of the countryside’s support for fox hunting, it has been claimed.
Richard Parrott, a joint master of the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt, said the current ban on hunting animals with dogs was a ‘pointless law’.
He spoke after up to 800 people watched 68 horsemen begin their three-hour, nine-mile hunt in Abbots Bromley Market Place, while hundreds more are expected to turn out for a New Year’s Day meet in Uttoxeter next week.
Mr Parrott told the Advertiser: “The level of support shown demonstrates there is a feeling in the countryside that the Hunting Act needs to be repealed in some way, shape or form.
“It is just a pointless law. It satisfies neither the opponents nor those in favour of hunting.”
Mr Parrott said the number of people who turned out to watch this year’s Boxing Day hunt had not dwindled despite some adverse publicity during the year.
“We were about equal to last year,” he said. “As we trotted out of the village, both sides of the streets were lined.
“We were pleased to start in the centre of the village. In these busy times it is quite special to be able to meet in a village and we had a fantastic turnout.”
The number of riders this year was the largest the hunt has seen for 10 years, Mr Parrott said.
The hunt normally begins at Blithfield Hall in Admaston, near Rugeley, but its starting point was moved this year due to waterlogging in the hall’s grounds.
Instead of chasing live animals, hunts are now supposed to follow a scented rag.
The Government has promised a House of Commons vote on whether to repeal the Hunting Act, but senior Conservatives have this week appeared to rule it out due to the likelihood of defeat.
The New Year’s Day hunt is due to meet in Uttoxeter’s market place at 11am on Tuesday.
It is to be the third time in three years that the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt has held its New Year’s hunt in the town following a break of decades.