Anti-hunt group to protest in Grantham at Boxing Day Belvoir Hunt after Charter Trustees hold 'private' meeting
Anti-hunt campaigners have promised a protest at the annual Boxing Day meet of the Belvoir Hunt.
Every year, hundreds of people come to attend the spectacle of seeing the horses and the hounds who are welcomed by the Mayor of Grantham.
On Wednesday night, Mayor of Grantham Lynda Coutts and other councillors staged a meeting behind closed doors about whether to welcome the Duke of Rutland’s hounds in front of the Guildhall on St Peter’s Hill.
The Mayor’s parlour declined to comment on what was said at the meeting, stressing its private nature, but said it would be in touch with the Journal in time, adding it had “nothing to hide”.
However, Grantham councillor Ray Wootten tweeted:
“At a private meeting of Grantham Charter Trustees it was decided to support the Belvoir Hunt meet on Boxing Day.”
The annual tradition has added controversy this year following recent court cases involving hunt members and associates, accused of animal cruelty.
This has prompted Grantham Against Bloodsports to repeat its call for a protest on Boxing Day.
The group is also running an online petition which has 11,288 signatures calling for the mayor to stop “inviting” the hunt to town,
The invitation to the hunt has been made by Grantham Charter Trustees.
A South Kesteven District Council spokesman said it was not directly involved.
The petition from Grantham Against Bloodsports says: “We, the public of Grantham and our supporters, wish to make it clear that we consider the annual invite extended to the Belvoir Hunt by the Mayor, Coun Lynda Coutts, to be a stain on this town.
“We do not welcome their presence nor their barbaric behaviour.
“Never again should they be invited to Grantham by the Mayor. Our protests will be repeated each year until they stop coming.”
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said despite the 2004 hunting ban, thousands of foxes, hares and deer are still killed by hunting packs every year.
He said: “With 85per cent of the public opposed to fox hunting, it is high time South Kesteven District Council provided protection to wildlife by stopping allowing the Belvoir Hunt to meet in Grantham town centre.
“We question why an otherwise upstanding institution like South Kesteven District Council would wish to give free rein of the town to an outfit demonstrably out of tune with law and order.”
Former Mayor of Grantham, Coun Ian Selby said he was happy for the hunt to come to Grantham, “as long as nothing illegal was taking place”.
He said: “The role of the mayor is to represent all members of the community. The mayor should be there. If not, it should be the deputy mayor.
“I don’t like cruelty but it’s a popular event and a lot of the public turn out.”