Trail hunting ban rejected after move likened to 1930s Germany

Councillor Rich Maw outside County Hall with campaigners. Picture: LDRS.

A campaign pressing for a ban on trail hunting on publicly-owned land in North Yorkshire has been rejected after being likened to an act of the German government in the 1930s.

Members of North Yorkshire Council’s ruling Conservative group and two Independent councillors who have formed an understanding with them voted to recommend the notice of motion not be supported when it goes before a full meeting of the authority in November.

After the vote by the authority’s corporate and partnerships scrutiny committee, Polly Portwin, director of the Countryside Alliance’s Action for Hunting campaign said it was “a victory for common sense”.

She said: “It would be morally wrong for any local authority to ban a lawful activity and we hope this ideological attack on the rural way of life is voted down at the next meeting of the full council.”

Labour councillor Rich Maw, who had proposed the motion, said the result had been politically motivated.

Coun Maw said the law surrounding hunting was persistently being flouted across council land and that the League Against Cruel Sports had collated 29 witness reports of suspected illegal hunting, including eight incidents of cub hunting in the county.

He told members trail hunting was being used as a cover for illegal hunting, enabling “the inevitable chasing and killing of animals to be labelled accidental”.

Coun Maw, who was accused of pursuing a “personal crusade”, said: “As a council we have an opportunity, a responsibility to act. It is about recognising the current legislation is being abused.”

The meeting heard claims some 78 per cent of the public supported new laws on hunting to protect animals and called on the council to display a pro-active, preventative approach to animal cruelty, environmental damage and antisocial behaviour associated with hunting.

Councillor Steve Shaw Wright said the council needed to support the will of the majority of residents.

However, the debate had heard Damian Readman, a joint-master of the Derwent Hunt, tell members how the hunt accesses council-owned land “throughout the season” and that tenant farmers should be able to make their own decisions regarding the land for which they are responsible.

He said: “Trail hunting and hound exercising, which are both legal activities, are no different to any other lawful countryside pursuits like dog walking or mountain biking. Wild mammals are no more at risk from the hounds carrying out their lawful activities than they are from any other dogs.”

Tory members questioned the campaigners’ evidence and described the notice of motion as “utterly ridiculous”. They said there was “a danger of prohibiting lawful behaviour”, before claiming there was a “hint of the class war about it”.

After an hour of fierce debate in County Hall’s council chamber, its chairman Councillor Andrew Williams said the proposal would be “largely ineffective and unenforceable”.

He said those behind the proposal were trying to get the council involved in gestures and gimmicks that had no actual meaning.

The Ripon councillor added: “It’s a very slippery slope when we start imposing majority will preventing minorities from exercising perfectly legitimate legal rights. I point you to how Germany ended up in the 1930s when it went down a route of imposing majority will as opposed to minorities.

“It is for parliament to change law, not elected councillors.”

4 Comments

  1. How incredibly offensive to liken campaigning against animal cruelty to nazi Germany. That fascist regime killed 6 million jews and countless others, to lessen it to an attempt to prevent people from abusing loopholes in an ineffective law is disgusting and shameful. Andrew Williams should hang his head in shame, he needs to apologise and resign.

  2. That’s so offensive to compare people campaigning for the law to be enforced to a nazi regime that committed horrendous crimes and attempted to wipe out entire groups of people. Cllr Williams should be ashamed of himself.

  3. Cllr Williams’ remarks are deeply offensive to the memories of the millions of people who died or otherwise suffered as a result of Nazi policies, millions of whom were German citizens who opposed the Nazis.
    The animals killed ‘accidentally’ as a result of trail hunting would oppose it if they could. As it is and in view of the fact that trail hunting is, in the words of the hunters themselves, merely a “smokescreen”, someone has to do it for them.

Comments are closed.