1) To refuse permission for use of SKDC assets for any activity connected with the Belvoir Hunt (this is to include all land and property which is owned or managed by the Council).
2) To refuse any discretionary licence application relating to activities of Belvoir Hunt including event licences and so-called ‘charitable’ street collections.
3) To ensure that all costs associated with preparation, management or clearing up after activities connected with the Belvoir Hunt are recovered from the organisers.
4) To refuse and withhold any other non-statutory support for the Belvoir Hunt.
The Leader stated that a number of his group members had raised concerns for their safety; he stated that some of the Councillors within this group had been subjected to threats following the publication of the motion. So that they felt able to participate he proposed that the Council suspend procedure rules 4.13.3 and 4.13.4, which provided for voting by show of hands and by recorded votes be suspended for this item only, to enable voting by secret ballot. This proposition was seconded and, on being put to the vote, carried.
Councillor Moran stated that, following advice from Legal and Democratic Services, she had revised the wording of her motion. A copy of the updated wording had been circulated to Members. Councillor Moran proposed her motion:
1. To refuse permission for the use of SKDC assets for any activity connected with the Belvoir Hunt.
2. When considering any street collection licence application, the application form must specify the name of the registered charity that will benefit from the collection and guidance provided to set out the appropriate requirements of any such collection, e.g. ensuring appropriately marked collection receptacles are used.
3. To ensure that all costs associated with preparation, management or clearing up after activities connected with the Belvoir Hunt are recovered from the organisers.
4. To refuse and/or withhold any other non-statutory support for the Belvoir Hunt.
Councillor Moran, in proposing her motion, stated that it was not about fox hunting; instead it was designed to demonstrate that the Council did not condone the actions of the Belvoir Hunt and to prevent bringing the Council’s reputation into disrepute. She spoke about the support she had received since submitting the motion and the number of primary shares and comments that had been made on social media. Reference was made to a recent decision that had been made by Newark Town Council, which had banned the hunt meeting from the town. Nottinghamshire County Council had also banned any hunt activities taking place on their land.
Councillor Moran also addressed comments that had been made during the public speaking session, referring to the parade through town and those years that the Mayor had met the hunt and how the Belvoir Hunt insisted that it remained within the law. She referred to the practice of cubbing and said that the Council should not support criminal activity.
The motion was seconded. The seconder referred to criminal activities that were associated with individuals who were connected to individuals associated with the Belvoir Hunt. She stated that four men who were involved in the attack against hunt observers were never identified and brought to justice. She concluded by stating that the Council should not be connected to any organisation that had a disregard to the law.
Members who spoke in support of the motion commended the bravery of the proposed and condemned the threats that had been experienced by some Members. Reference was made to the £48,000 compensation that was paid by the Belvoir Hunt to the victims who were attacked which some Members linked with responsibility. Supporters of the motion did not feel that the Belvoir Hunt had fulfilled its duty as an employer by standing by an individual who was associated in the attack on hunt observers.
Members who spoke against the motion recognised the rural tradition that hunting represented and the hundred-year history of the Belvoir Hunt meeting in Grantham town centre. Some Members also raised concerns that voting in support of a decision would lead to a decision that discriminated against a named group and could be challenged through Judicial Review. They outlined the role of the Council to provide services for all members of the community.
17:58 – It was proposed, seconded and agreed that the meeting be extended for 15 minutes
One Member spoke about their experience as Grantham Mayor in greeting the Belvoir Hunt and the reactions he had seen from the members of the public who had turned out to see the riders and hounds. He also spoke about threats he had received through social media from opponents to the hunt.
More comments were made by Members who supported the motion. Their comments referred to the use of public money to support an event operated by a limited company. One Member spoke about their experience of organising events in Bourne and the due diligence that was required. They stated that if the Belvoir Hunt continued to be allowed to meet in Grantham then the Council was beholden to ensure that the event operated safely because it was responsible for ensuring event management plans and risk assessments were robust. Another supporter of the motion recognised the role of tradition but stated that there were times that traditions had to change as society progressed.
There was recognition that, whilst most people enjoy the spectacle, they did not like the thought of a wild animal being attacked.
Opponents to the motion reiterated their view on the Council’s role to provide services that do not discriminate against any individual or organisation.
The proposer of the motion was given the opportunity to sum up. She stated that she could not find evidence of another organisation or company that had held events in South Kesteven that had received the same level of assistance as the Belvoir Hunt. She stated that the last year was the first year that the Belvoir Hunt had been asked to produce a risk assessment and referred to the assistance the Hunt had had from the Charter Trustees in arranging road closures.
The motion was put to the ballot and the Council AGREED:
To not support the notice of motion submitted by Councillor Moran.