no meeting of minds: Hunts draw crowds as supporters push for vote on ban

LEADER OF THE PACK: Holderness Hunt at Beverley Westwood.
LEADER OF THE PACK: Holderness Hunt at Beverley Westwood.
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Boxing Day hunts across Yorkshire attracted a bumper turnout yesterday, despite a new poll suggesting the majority of the nation remains overwhelmingly in favour of keeping fox hunting illegal.

Hundreds turned out in the glorious sunshine for the annual Holderness Hunt meet at Beverley Westwood as the Countryside Alliance boasted of the sport’s improving popularity, despite the Hunting Act now being nine years old.

However, an animal welfare charity yesterday chose to publish research claiming eight out of 10 people believe fox hunting should remain illegal.

The poll, carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA, claimed support for the ban was equally strong in both rural and urban areas.

It comes as supporters of fox hunting are pushing for a new vote on the ban, which had been promised by the coalition Government following the 2010 general election. In October Prime Minister David Cameron said he had “sympathy” with calls for the rules on fox hunting to be loosened. But Joe Duckworth, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said a new vote would be “political suicide”.

MPs and campaigners are pushing the Government to scrap the ban on using more than two dogs to flush out foxes so they can be shot. Farmers say attacks on lambs have increased, and argue that limited pest control measures permitted under the 2004 Hunting Act are not working.

Sir Nick Harvey, a former Liberal Democrat defence Minister, and MP for North Devon, argued the law was unenforceable. He said: “We have passed a law which is an ass. It is a law that cannot be implemented.”