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Boxing Day Hunt to return to Elham village square

The East Kent Hunt with West Street will return to Elham village square on Boxing Day, re-establishing a 100-year-old tradition.

The group abandoned the location last year due to a "hostile atmosphere" and safety concerns because of anti-hunting demonstrations.

Spectators and riders attend the Boxing Day hunt in Elham, 2018. Picture: Nick Onslow.
Spectators and riders attend the Boxing Day hunt in Elham, 2018. Picture: Nick Onslow.

Instead supporters were invited to the kennels in the village and the huntsmen and pack rode out of the village via the High Street.

Protestors claimed a victory but it still led to ugly scenes in the village in which an anti-hunting activist was allegedly assaulted.

But now hunt masters have announced that the meet will return to the square, which will have pedestrian barriers installed, as in previous years.

Hunt spokesman Nick Onslow said: "The route has been discussed with representatives of Elham's community who were anxious for the Square to be part of the occasion that attracts hundreds of supporters and spectators to the village.

"Last year businesses missed out because the break with tradition as did many of our supporters.

Anti-hunt protesters in Elham, Boxing Day 2018. Picture: Nick Onslow.
Anti-hunt protesters in Elham, Boxing Day 2018. Picture: Nick Onslow.

"I think it will be a case of seeing how it goes on the day and whether the hunt spends much time in the square."

The hunt insists it operates within the law by trail hunting but animal activists claim foxes are still being killed.

Grant Tillman of the East Kent Hunt Saboteurs, which is expected to protest, said: "It has been evidenced time and time again that trail hunting is a myth perpetrated by hunts to allow them to carry on hunting illegally.

"If a fox gets killed, well, they say, 'we were trail hunting and it got in the way, and we couldn't get the dogs off in time'.

"We say this on behalf of our supporters and the decent 90% of the public who find bloodsports abhorrent-illegal hunting and the promotion of it has no place in today’s society."

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