Rural campaigners hit back at bid to ban trail hunting on North Northamptonshire Council land
They've accused Labour of 'grandstanding' and 'time-wasting'
Rural campaigners have accused a Labour councillor of 'time-wasting' after she called for controversial trail hunting to be banned on North Northamptonshire Council land.
Cllr Alison Dalziel's motion, which is set to be debated by councillors tomorrow (Wednesday), follows on from the National Trust and Natural Resources Wales voting to halt trail hunting on their land.
Without a policy in place she wants the council to ban trail hunting, exempt hunting, or any form of hunt meets on its land.
But rural campaigners say the move is 'meaningless' as trail hunting is a legal activity and have accused her of “time wasting at the expense of local people”.
Polly Portwin, a spokeswoman for the Countryside Alliance, said: “It is not even clear whether North Northamptonshire Council actually holds rights over any land on which trail hunting takes place.
"It is staggering that a local Labour councillor has chosen to use vital council time and resources debating a legal activity, especially when most reasonable people would want their representatives focused on the pandemic. It is simply time-wasting at the expense of local people.
“This meaningless motion appears to be nothing more than thinly veiled political grandstanding. We urge local councillors to vote down this divisive motion, irrespective of their political party, and instead work towards addressing local issues which will actually impact on the everyday lives of local residents.”
Cllr Dalziel (Beanfield) said she was 'not concerned' by the Countryside Alliance's comments and that the support she has received since putting the motion is "has been quite overwhelming".
Trail hunting was introduced as an alternative for those who still wanted to hunt after the killing of foxes for sport was made illegal in 2004.
It was created to mimic traditional fox hunting with dogs by laying an artificial trail using fox urine. However, hounds often pick up the scents of a live fox and begin to track it, leading to the death of foxes.
Trail hunting supporters say that huntsmen should stop hounds following the scent as soon as they realise what has happened.
Rural campaigners say local hunts provide a number of full-time jobs as well as professional services which contribute to the local economy.
A similar motion to disrupt trail hunting was put to councillors in Cherwell, Oxfordshire, but it was heavily defeated. A vote by Peterborough City Council saw trail hunting banned on land owned by the authority pass by a small margin, but was described as a political stunt by those who opposed it.
Cllr Scott Brown (Con), who represents Earls Barton on North Northamptonshire Council, said: “It’s disappointing but not surprising that the local Labour group have decided to target rural people in this way, especially on an issue which the council has no influence over.
"Time in the council chamber should be dedicated to debating real issues of concern to local residents.”