Cottesmore Hunt looks likely to be held at Rutland County Council’s car park again this Boxing Day despite objections from an animal rights group.
The decades-old tradition looked to be in jeopardy last Christmas when Oakham Town Council refused the hunt’s request to hold the meet in the usual location of Cutts Close.
But Rutland County Council stepped into offer its car park to allow the hunt to continue raising money for good causes. Last year, collections were made for For Rutland In Rutland.
This year, the future looked to be in doubt again after the Leicester Animal Rights group campaigned for Rutland County Council not to host the hunt again.
A petition started late last week has attracted nearly 3,500 signatures.
A spokesman for Leicester Animal Rights said: “‘On September 17, 2015, an employee of the Cottesmore Hunt was prosecuted for obstructing a badger sett. To us, it’s clear what this means in the context of a fox hunt – business as usual.
“It’s unacceptable for the council to be condoning this, and we expect them to do the right thing for increasingly pressured wildlife by refusing any further requests from the Cottesmore Hunt.’”
But this week, the council confirmed the hunt would go ahead again this year. Rutland County Council leader Terry King (Con) said: “The council has been in contact with Leicestershire Animal Rights regarding Cottesmore Hunt’s use of Catmose car park for last year’s Boxing Day meet and advised them of the various ways they can highlight any concerns at public meetings of the council.
“The Boxing Day meet is a well-established tradition in Rutland and, when approached in December 2015, the council agreed to this solution to provide an alternative venue for the event.
“A request to use Catmose car park as the venue for the 2016 Boxing Day meet has been received from organisers of the Cottesmore Hunt and subsequently accepted.The decision was taken in the same way as in 2015 and is subject to similar conditions being met by event organisers.”
No-one from the hunt was available to comment at the time of going to press but last year, the hunt secretary Claire Bell said the hunt was “delighted at the support of the council”.