The John Peel Hunt not welcome in Keswick, council decides


19th November 2021

The Blencathra Foxhounds – known as The John Peel Hunt – are not welcome in Keswick on Boxing Day or at any other time, a council decided last night.

Ten members of Keswick Town Council voted eight in favour with one objection and one abstention to write to the Threlkeld-based hunt to disinvite them from making their annual festive visit to Market Square.

Although the council has no legal authority over banning the Foxhounds from attending, the move followed another call for the council to disassociate itself from foxhunting by former Green councillor Allan Todd, who was supported in the public gallery by anti-hunt campaigners Billy Bland and Tony Locke.

Last night’s decision follows the conviction in October of Mark Hankinson, a director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association. In a bombshell conviction, he was found guilty of encouraging illegal hunting by telling hunting groups in an online seminar how to use trail laying as a “smokescreen” for the activity, which was outlawed in 2004.

Cllr Tony Lywood described the Boxing Day gathering – where foxhounds and a red-coated master congregate and toasts carried out before a visit to Keswick cottage hospital – as presenting the “furry cuddly facade” for the “killing and ripping apart” of wild animals.

“Until they can prove that they are doing what they say they are doing, I don’t think we should welcome them, and we should write this letter,” said Cllr Lywood, a Labour county councillor.

Cllr Peter Terry was the sole objector and told the meeting the council was taking a “very one-sided” view and stepping beyond its role. Cllr Terry pointed out that many hunt saboteurs had been convicted of criminal offences and that trail laying was a “perfectly legal activity.”

“If things have been done that are illegal then that is totally wrong and I would support anything against that,” said Cllr Terry, “but I haven’t heard of anything. Nobody has brought it up that the Blencathra have actually done anything illegal.”

But Cllr Alan Dunn, mayor of Keswick and chairman of the meeting, said: “For the past few years, this council has resisted writing the said letter for various reasons. My own reason being it was another lost tradition but things have changed dramatically since we last voted as has been rightly pointed out, with the conviction of Mark Hankinson and the subsequent suspension of licences to trail hunt – in inverted commas.

“The council will now write asking the Foxhounds not to attend on Boxing Day “or at any other time”.

Its stance will remain in place as long as the bans and suspensions on licensing remain in place by major Lake District landowners including the National Trust, United Utilities, the Forestry Commission, and the Lake District National Park Authority.

In the event those are lifted, the Foxhounds would be required to prove the legality of its activities before being welcome back in Market Square.

Mr Todd applauded the decision, while the Foxhounds group has told The Keswick Reminder that it would reply to the council when it received the letter.

The John Peel Hunt not welcome in Keswick, council decides

One Reply to “The John Peel Hunt not welcome in Keswick, council decides”

  1. This filthy scum should be banned from everywhere including ALL private and public land then what will they do??????WELL DONE Keswick others should follow suit.

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