Anti-hunting campaigners call on Leeds council to ban Boxing Day meet in Aberford

Badsworth & Bramham Moor hounds gathering in the village of Aberford for a Boxing Day hunt. Picture: James Hardisty
Badsworth & Bramham Moor hounds gathering in the village of Aberford for a Boxing Day hunt. Picture: James Hardisty

Campaigners have called on Leeds City Council to stop hosting Boxing Day hunt meets in Aberford amid claims that wildlife are still being chased.

The League Against Cruel Sports has today written to council leader Judith Blake in relation to ask that it withdraws permission for the Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hounds to meet.

Read more: Annual Boxing Day hunt meets take place in Yorkshire

In the letter, published in full below, the League claims a fox and deer were chased across the Yorkshire countryside by hounds under control of the hunt during a meeting last November.

The organisation says it the reported incident on November 24 is just one of 151 examples of illegal hunting reported to the League since the hunting season opened on at the start of that month.

Chris Luffingham, its director of campaigns, said: "A fox has been chased and killed by hounds under the control of the Badsworth & Bramham Hunt, which is permitted by Leeds City Council to hold one of its most prestigious meets in Aberford. This brutal incident not only reflects on the hunt itself – but anybody who allows them to continue operating.”

It contends that large groups of hunt riders and hounds meeting creates a health and safety hazard, with highways obstructed and passers-by forced into narrow spaces.

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The League says it is only a matter of time before somebody is injured as a direct result of these "chaotic scenes" and no risk assessment can realistically mitigate that likelihood.

It notes violent clashes have also taken place between proponents and opponents of fox hunting during recent hunt meets in town centres.

Mr Luffingham added: “A number of local authorities – including Tetbury Council and Elham Council – have already committed to not allowing fox hunts to meet or parade on public land under their jurisdiction.

"With 85 per cent of the public opposing fox hunting, there is clear support for Leeds City Council to follow these examples and instead allow only cruelty-free entertainment in Aberford.”

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “We can confirm we have received a letter from The League Against Cruel Sports and we will respond accordingly in due course.”

A spokesman for the hunt said:-

"“The Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hunt operates within the law to comply with the Hunting Act 2004, however it is one of many hunts that are regularly subjected to spurious allegations regarding their legal hunting activities. Health and safety is of the upmost importance to the hunt and arrangements are always put in place to enable our activities to be conducted in a safe, legal and sensible way. The Boxing Day meet is such a special day for the rural community that it would be a travesty if Leeds City Council were pressured to cancel this popular festive event.”

Polly Portwin, head of hunting at the Countryside Alliance said:

“Recent Boxing Day meets yet again proved to be as popular as ever across the country with estimates of over a quarter of a million people supporting their local packs of hounds. Anti-hunting organisations and activists are however still intent on sabotaging perfectly legal hunting activities carried out by hunts by making spurious allegations and using sensationalist headlines to damage the reputation of hunts.

“Despite the obvious support for hunting, which was evident in towns and public places throughout the festive period, it is unsurprising that the anti-hunting lobby has resorted to putting pressure on local councils and councillors, however we urge those councils coming under attack to continue to liaise with their local packs of hounds to secure the future of these meets in the future.”

The letter sent to Leeds City Council in full

I write on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports – and our thousands of supporters, including many in West Yorkshire – to request Leeds City Council commits to never again allowing the Badsworth & Bramham Hunt to hold its Boxing Day meet in Aberford.

Large groups of hunt riders and hounds meeting creates a health and safety hazard – with highways obstructed and passers-by, including families with young children, forced into narrow spaces. It is only a matter of time before somebody is injured as a direct result of these chaotic scenes and no risk assessment can realistically mitigate that likelihood.

As you may be aware, violent clashes have also taken place between proponents and opponents of fox hunting during recent town-centre hunt meets after deep-rooted community tensions ran high.

A terrified fox and deer was chased to exhaustion across the Yorkshire countryside by hounds under control of the Badsworth & Bramham Hunt during a hunting meeting on 24 November.

This comes after high-profile incidents of this hunt pursuing foxes and blocking a badger sett on the outskirts of the city. This is just one of 151 reports of illegal hunting received by the League since the hunting season opened on 1st November relating to fox hunts which claim to be ‘following a trail’.

A number of local authorities – including Tetbury Council and Elham Council – have already committed to not allowing hunts to meet or parade on public land under their jurisdiction. With 85 per cent of the public opposing fox hunting, there is clear support for Leeds City Council to follow these decisions and instead allow only cruelty-free entertainment in Aberford on Boxing Day.

Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns