Belvoir Hunt vote held in secret due to threats

South Kesteven District Council Image copyright LDRS
Image caption The vote on the motion was held by secret ballot due to threats made to councillors

A vote on whether to stop a hunt using council land was taken in secret after threats and abuse from both sides.

A motion urged South Kesteven District Council, in Lincolnshire, to stop any support for the Belvoir Hunt.

It followed a criminal case in which a former hunt employee assaulted two hunt monitors in 2016.

The council's Conservative leader said the secret ballot was held because he was "genuinely concerned" for councillors.

Kelham Cooke said there had been a "significant amount of abuse and intimidation" from all sides of the debate, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

"I have had phone calls and messages from individuals concerned about their safety within their own homes with regard to this motion," he said.

"I myself live on my own and have already had threatening messages online calling for me to be stabbed and calling me other names, which is not appropriate."

The motion was voted down. Had it passed it would have prevented the hunt from using council-owned land or property, or getting special event and street collection licences from the authority.

'Flouting' laws

Independent councillor Virginia Moran, who proposed the motion, said that by supporting the hunt the council was "condoning their actions and bringing this council into disrepute".

"People will no longer put up with hunts parading through their towns when they are persistently flouting hunting laws," she said.

The incident in 2016 saw one of the two hunt monitors suffer a broken neck and broken vertebrae, while the other suffered cuts and bruises.

The hunt did not admit liability, but did pay more than £48,000 in compensation.

Kit Henson, from Belvoir Hunt, told councillors it had "continued to operate within the law after the 2004 Hunting Act came into force."

"It is a family-friendly festive tradition and it should not be stopped because of the regrettable action of one individual," he said.

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