Matters could have been handled better
Column by Coun Charmaine Morgan, Labour councillor on South Kesteven District Council
One of the achievements of the last Labour Government was the end of fox hunting.
A key concession behind the change in law on fox hunting was that drag hunting would remain to enable the continuation of valued country traditions, but, without the unnecessary cruelty of hounds and riders hunting down, and ultimately tearing apart, a fox. Whatever the good intention, drag hunting is now under the spotlight.
Those opposed to drag hunting argue that fox cubs are being dug out and kept, then released for the hounds to practice on. The Belvoir Hunt has been in the spotlight itself after a member and follower were recently convicted of illegal activity which included injuring an anti hunt protester. Because of these concerns the Charter Trustees held a meeting to discuss the Boxing Day tradition when the Belvoir Hunt invites the Mayor of Grantham to join them for a drink. Instead of helping the situation, this decision made matters worse.
The Mayor, Councillor Lynda Coutts, decided the public should not attend the meeting. The meeting was also to afford an opportunity for the Belvoir Hunt to put their case, but not those opposing the event. The decision was against the recommendations of a number of Charter Trustees, including myself. At the meeting, the Belvoir Hunt argued that they have their own rules and would take action against any member breaking the law. This argument won over the majority of Charter Trustees present who opted to continue with planned ceremony of the Mayor greeting the hunt on Boxing Day. It was conceded that matters could have been handled better.
This week local Labour Party members discussed the event. Whilst supportive of the local tradition, there were concerns over the organisation of the event. A hound was injured by a taxi two years ago because the road was not closed off. There is no public record showing road closures this year. If the road is closed off a question arises about who is going to pay for this.
Meanwhile, I came across a homeless man in a town centre car park recently at night. He had a number of medical conditions. When I tried to get him emergency accommodation I was advised by the SKDC representative that the man was ‘not sick enough’ to be a priority and warrant a bed for the night. There is something terribly wrong with our society if being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we cannot provide basic food and shelter for our people. SKDC has a duty of care to help some people. Others are falling by the wayside. The district can only do this if it has the money to do so. This year's budget will not end austerity no matter what the prime minister promises.