The Ledbury Hunt has defended its possible use of private security to patrol its planned Boxing Day meet in the town.

Its spokesperson said: “As ever, the hunt will take the appropriate steps to ensure the smooth running of this year’s event, both in the interest of health and safety and to minimise disruption.

“Whilst we have spoken to security for this year it has not been confirmed,” she said, adding that if used, they would be fully licensed with SIA, the Government's Security Industry Authority.

“We have never had the need to engage security in previous years and only engaged them last year as we had knowledge of a large turnout of protesters,” she explained.

The Ledbury Boxing Day meet “is hugely important not just for the identity of our community, but the businesses who appreciate the extra footfall at this important time of year”, she added.


The hunt must apply, as it does every year, to Herefordshire Council as highways authority, for permission to block the town’s High Street for the traditional festive event.

A petition opposing the meet, launched last week, which has already reached over 2,000 signatures, claims that at last year’s meet “the Ledbury hired security without any badges or accreditation with no jurisdiction”.

Superintendent Edd Williams of West Mercia Police said on this that it “would be a matter for the event organiser and the local authority’s safety advisory group as to what level of security is needed”.

“Demonstrations for example have to have identified stewards,” he said, adding that the police “do not attend the hunt meet as security, but would be there to ensure there is no breach of the peace”.

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Ledbury Town Council has said it will not now debate whether or not to back the meet, nor will it ask Herefordshire Council to prevent the road closure to enable it – despite the petitioners seeking this.

“There will be no opportunity for anyone attending (the full council meeting this Thursday) to speak on the Ledbury Hunt,” its spokesperson said.

Polly Portwin, the director of the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Hunting, said of the petition: “Unsurprisingly, a large number of the signatures against this popular local event are from outside the town and county, with some signing from as a far away as Canada.

“This is a typical tactic used by animal rights groups to pressure smaller local authorities.

“The Ledbury Hunt Boxing Day meet is incredibly well attended every year by local people and it is right that the county council do not discriminate against any lawful event from taking place on the roads.”

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