Bid to ban trail hunting on public land in Essex fails

PUBLISHED: 11:53 16 May 2019

County Hall, home of Essex County Council

County Hall, home of Essex County Council

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A bid to ban trail hunting on land owned by Essex County Council has failed.

Councillor Lee Scordis had urged Essex County Council (ECC) members to back his motion to ban future trail hunting and exercising of packs of fox hounds on Essex County Council land - arguing that many hunts trace the ground with fox urine in areas that they know could lead to the death of a fox anyway.

However, Councillor Kerry Smith, one of the councillors who opposed his bill, said he would not support an 'illegally unsound motion that breaches unalienable rights of the common man'.

Cllr Scordis said Countryside Alliance members had gone out of their way to intimidate and verbally abuse him.

He told ECC: "There are those who use this method to flout the law.

"They buy fox urine from America and other countries and they tend to lay this scent where they believe foxes or hares to be.

"So if a fox or hare is killed they can claim it to be accidental."

He said the Countryside Alliance, which campaigns for the lifting of the ban on fox hunting, had marshalled its members to intimate and verbally abuse him.

He said: "I have never met a group of such nasty, self-entitled people who threatened me, use tactics of intimidation and verbally abused me.

"I have been trolled from people from all over the UK who have encouraged others to attack my Facebook page and complain about me to Essex County Council for ridiculous reasons, taking my words completely out of context."

Cllr Kerry Smith said: "This motion is not sound as it seeks to indirectly remove the unalienable rights of the common man to freely use public rights of way.

"These are hard won rights that I will not seek to tamper with.

"Also if those on foot involved in the hunt decide to use public rights of way are we going to break the law to uphold this motion?"

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, while welcoming the decision from members, denied intimidating Cllr Scordis and queried how Cllr Scordis would know who was and wasn't a member of the alliance.

He said: "We are very pleased that the council voted against a motion to ban the legal activities of trail hunting and hound exercise.

"It is a great shame that councillors had to waste time on such a pointless and divisive debate, but we are very grateful that they rejected the proposal.

"Hunts in Essex have been hunting an artificial scent perfectly legally since the Hunting Act came into force in 2005.

"There are at least eight packs of hounds operating in the county throughout the autumn and winter yet none has ever been charged with a hunting offence, let alone convicted of one, so the suggestion that they are not hunting lawfully is completely unfounded.

"Hunting continues to attract support across Essex as people continue to enjoy following and watching hounds working in the countryside."

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