Grove & Rufford Hunt – Boxing Day event in Bawtry
On 28th November the Grove & Rufford Hunt asked permission to use 3 car parking spaces in front of the Crown Hotel for their Boxing Day meet in Bawtry, as they have in the past.
The Council considered this request at our meeting on 12th December. Our decision was not to grant permission. This is the full extent of our actions despite some public misconceptions that we have banned the hunt or prevented it from meeting in Bawtry on Boxing Day. We have not and we were specifically advised at the Council meeting by the Hunt representative that they may hold their Meet in Bawtry without the use of the small area of Council land.
I am aware our decision will disappoint some people. This notice explains why it was made.
Following Parliament’s decision to make fox hunting unlawful, the activities of Hunt organisations remains a controversial issue in this country. Supporters value them as a traditional countryside pursuit, on the basis that they now only do what is called drag hunting, where an artificial scent trail is laid, and the hunt members and dogs follow that trail. That activity is lawful. Opponents claim that some hunts still kill foxes.
When the Grove & Rufford Hunt asked to use our car park last year, the Council gave permission. I supported it on the basis that it was a popular event that was “good for Bawtry” and that following the Meet they would hold a drag hunt, which was lawful. I believe that was also the position of the rest of the Council, although I’m making an assumption here – there was no significant debate as there was no opposition.
This time though, it was controversial, because on 14th March 2017, at Mansfield Magistrates Court, an employee of the Grove & Rufford Hunt (their “terrier man”) and two members of the Hunt were convicted of the offence of hunting a mammal (a fox) with dogs.
At our 12th December meeting, the Hunt representative told us the Grove & Rufford Hunt respected the law and operated within it. We therefore asked what action had been taken against their employee and their members following the convictions. We were told the terrier man remained in their employ, and the two members remained members. We explained that caused us concern because their taking no action following the convictions seemed to contradict their assertion that they respected the law. The representative responded by saying the Hunt thought the convictions were unfair.
Whilst the Grove & Rufford Hunt may lightly dismiss the convictions, we did not feel, as an elected public body, we could. Even so, trying to find a way forward, one of our Councillors asked the Hunt representative whether the three individuals who had been convicted of fox hunting would be present at the Meet on Boxing Day. The representative replied by confirming they would.
In my view, this left us with nowhere to go. I think the Grove & Rufford Hunt were insensitive of the fact that fox hunting remains very controversial. They profess to abide by the law, but took no action to demonstrate disapproval of their members breaking that law, by expelling them – or even suspending them pending an appeal against conviction. Short of that, they could have undertaken that the three individuals would not be involved in the Boxing Day event. That would have been so easy – but they didn’t do it. Had they done so, I think our decision may have been different.
Council concluded that we could not agree the Hunt’s request in these circumstances.
David Kirkham, Chair of Bawtry Town Council 14th December 2017
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SYP Alerts will allow members of the public to sign up to receive free, tailored messages from the police via text, email and voice alert.
Initially, the messages will be sent by the Corporate Communications team but as training is rolled out across the force to Neighbourhood Policing Teams we will see local cops and PCSOs using it on a regular basis.
How does this differ from Twitter or Facebook?
South Yorkshire Police have an outstanding social media presence as a force but they can’t rely on that alone as there is an increasing demand for the public to be able to easily access information that is tailored specifically to their wants and needs. As such, the police need to ensure we have a variety of ways that people can get their information . SYP Alerts will allow officers to send messages to anyone registered in their area, but they will also be able to;
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This system will replace the Neighbourhood Watch Confirmer system but will be available to any member of the public who wishes to sign up.
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