A RESIDENT who is against blood sports was shocked to be refused a stand at this year's Bromyard Gala.

Karen Rock wanted to hold a stall under the name of the charity The League Against Cruel Sports.

The Brockhampton group parish councillor intended to host a stall so residents could share their stories of where they had been adversely affected by hunting.

She said: "I talk to quite a lot of people about fox hunting in the area. It is staggering the number of stories I hear where pets or livestock are killed or injured.

"I wanted to run a very low key support group stall at the gala. I wanted to give people an opportunity to come forward with experiences. A lot of people don't realise there is anything they can do about it.

"Actually there are steps they can take to stop the hounds coming onto their land or into their gardens."

Karen, who is also a representative on the Bromyard Downs Commons Association, was surprised to be told by the gala's committee that she was not allowed to hold a stall at the event, which is on June 30 and July 1.

The gala is in its 51st year and is described on its website as "Herefordshire's biggest celebration of country pursuits and rural lifestyle."

Karen is keen to point out she is a fan of drag hunting as that does not impact on other people's lives and no fox is injured.

The League’s director of campaigns, Chris Luffingham, said: “The only contentious thing here is the committee’s decision. Public opinion on hunting is clear with 81 percent of people living in rural areas supporting the ban on fox hunting, so perhaps we need to question why conversation around the subject is being silenced at a countryside event."

He added: "The League is a professional organisation and our team of investigators, who are led by a former chief inspector and head of the police’s National Wildlife Crime Unit, work legally and peacefully to investigate illegal hunting.

"To hear that one of our supporters is being prevented from engaging with their local community on genuine animal welfare issues is extremely disappointing and sets a very disturbing precedent.”

Chairman of Bromyard Gala committee Steve Matthews said: "We can't have political type stalls. It is classed as political."