Published: 10:02, 22 January 2019
| Updated: 15:12, 22 January 2019
An appeal has been made to permanently ban a Boxing Day hunt meeting in a town following violent skirmishes.
The League Against Cruel Sports has written to Kent County Council leader Paul Carter asking that it “commits to never again allowing the Ashford Valley Tickham Hunt to hold its Boxing Day meet in Tenterden”.
Clashes between saboteurs and the Ashford Valley Tickham Hunt outside The Vine pub ended in bloodshed, with saboteurs reporting two assaults in the town to police.
There were also complaints of criminal damage in the high street and that a band’s equipment was smashed up.
Citing health and safety concerns caused by the meeting of large groups of riders and hounds in the confined centre of town, together with the obstruction of roads, the league claims in its letter: “It is only a matter of time before somebody is injured as a direct result of these chaotic scenes.”
The league says it has received 151 reports of illegal fox hunting since the season opened on November 1 and stressed the results of an Ipsos MORI that it commissioned, published in December 2017, showing that 85% of the British public were opposed to fox hunting.
Growing pressure from anti-hunt protesters saw the 2018 Elham Boxing Day hunt forced out of its traditional meeting place of the village square to hunt kennels at the top of Cullens Hill, but violence still flared up and a hunt saboteur was alleged to have been beaten and thrown in front of a passing car.
Nick Weston, the league’s head of campaigns, penned the letter requesting the Tenterden ban to Cllr Carter, which also alleges: “A terrified fox was chased to exhaustion across the Kent countryside by hounds during a hunting meeting on November 3.”
A KCC spokesman said: “KCC does not give approval for hunts to take place nor does it have any statutory powers to stop them taking place.
“This event [Tenterden Boxing Day hunt meeting] was discussed through the safety advisory group where all concerns are raised and discussed with emergency services, local authorities and key stakeholders.
“As KCC, we can only give advice on safety using the highway and as the advisory group can only advise, it ultimately does not have the power to allow or deny a gathering to take place.”
The Ashford Valley Tickham Hunt was contacted for comment by KentOnline, but did not respond.