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Opinion divided as go ahead given to Boxing Day hunt

PUBLISHED: 14:22 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:19 10 December 2019

Dunston Harriers stage the traditional Wymondham Boxing Day hunt, leaving from the Market Place.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Dunston Harriers stage the traditional Wymondham Boxing Day hunt, leaving from the Market Place. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

An annual Boxing Day hunt will continue in a Norfolk town, even though opinion remains divided as to whether it should take place.

The controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Wymondham Town Council has granted the Dunston Harriers permission to meet at the town cross on December 26, before the group embarks on its annual Boxing Day trail hunt.

The decision was put to a vote, winning approval by eight votes to three.

Hunting wild animals with dogs is banned by law. But hunt groups still regularly meet for a trail hunt, in which animals are said to be safeguarded from harm by following artificial scent trails, laid by humans prior to the event.

This practice still divides opinion however, amid fears animals, especially foxes, are still killed by dogs, even if that isn't the intention.

The controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

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Last year hundreds of protestors and pro-hunt spectators clashed in Wymondham town centre, with some supporters attempting to destroy banners with anti-hunt slogans.

Ahead of this year's event, town councillor Penelope Hubble said: "There are lots of groups that flout the rules and harm wildlife as a result. Allowing the Boxing Day meet tells the world that the community supports something unethical. The crux for me is that this tradition is in the past, and comes down to forward thinking people against backward thinking people."

But councillor Peter Green, also known as Pete Travis, who campaigned for the ban on live animal hunting in the early 2000s, said it did not make sense to prevent reformed groups engaging in trail hunts which conformed to the law.

The controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

He said: "This is obviously a very controversial issue. Hunting live animals is barbaric and should absolutely be illegal, but while these groups are ethical, regulated and acting within the law then they should be allowed to continue. Wymondham is a lovely old town, and this event brings a sense of theatre to it. It's very good for businesses which choose to open."

Mr Green added he anticipated protestors would attend the meet, and that they were "well within their rights" to express their opinion on the matter.

Police are expected to monitor the event.

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