Rutland County Council has offered to let the Cottesmore Hunt hold its Boxing Day meet in Catmose Car Park in Oakham.
The decades-old tradition looked to be in jeopardy after Oakham Town Council refused the hunt’s request to hold the meet in the usual location of Cutts Close. But the county council has now stepped in to allow the hunt to continue raising money for good causes.
Hunt secretary Clare Bell said: “We are delighted with the support of the council. They have been very good and we are thrilled to be able to maintain this tradition.”
The town council’s key concern was the mess left behind on an area close to a children’s playground. Mrs Bell said she actually agreed with the council’s point, but criticised how the situation had been handled.
“I quite understand why they made the decision but the way they handled it was shockingly unprofessional. But it’s done and the county council has been brilliant.”
The hunt traditionally invites a charity to collect during the Boxing Day meet. Recently that has been For Rutland In Rutland, and the charity will now be able to raise money once again this year.
Mrs Bell said: “I hope people will come, support and be generous. For Rutland In Rutland is a very good charity and it’s well worth supporting.”
Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said: “Oakham Town Council has been clear that its objection to holding the Boxing Day Meet at Cutts Close is a response to damage to the park and health and safety concerns relating to mess left behind by the Hunt in previous years.
“Fortunately, the county council is in a position to offer Catmose Car Park as an alternative location for the event. The car park is a large tarmacked area which can be marshalled and cleaned with ease and allows the Meet to remain in Oakham, continuing a local tradition that dates back many, many years.
“Collections made at the meet have raised thousands of pounds for Rutland charities over the years. Many of our local hostelries also benefit from increased trade due to the crowds which attend. A large number of people within the community have expressed sadness and disappointment that the event might disappear entirely.
“It would be a shame if this were to happen simply because a suitable location could not be agreed.”
The meet will now take place in the main Catmose car park, opposite Rutland County Museum, at 10.45am on December 26. Horses and hounds will be confined to hard standing areas only, with arrangements in place to clear up the car park as soon as the hunt departs at 11.25am. The number of hounds in attendance will be capped at 10 and vehicles will be prohibited.
After Boxing Day the county council will consider whether Catmose Car Park can be offered as long-term solution for the Cottesmore Hunt’s Boxing Day meet.