Lewis' boxing day chase is at risk from a wheelbarrow race

Lewis' boxing day chase is at risk from a wheelbarrow race

Every year, dozens of horses and packs of hounds descend on Lewes High Street before heading to the South Downs for the annual hunt.

But this year, anti-hunting activists organized a wheelbarrow race in the same place at the same time.

The Argus: Activists on the hunt in 2021Active stalkers in 2021

Lewis District Council has approved a street closure for campaign group Action Against Fox Hunting Community Food Bank fundraiser on December 26 between 11am and noon.

This is the same time that the Southdown and Eridge Hunt usually holds its parade through the city centre.

Hunt also applied to close the road but the application was rejected by council officials.

A spokesman for Action Against Fox Hunting said: “Our enterprising coordinator in Lewes has found a new way to prevent the South Downs and Fox Hunting from holding their own hunting show on Boxing Day.

“She has booked the route herself and is arranging a wheelbarrow race to collect for the food bank.”

If the hunt goes ahead even though the lockdown is not allowed, “they will have to arrive by wheelbarrows and contribute to the food bank,” he said.

The Argus: Clashes in a previous chaseClashes in a previous chase

Boxing Day manhunts have been a controversial topic in the city for several years with activists and vandals lining the streets in an attempt to stop the proceedings, often sparking clashes and arrests by police.

In the past it was fox hunting, but this has been illegal for more than a decade.

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Participants now conduct a legal hunt that involves tracking an artificial scent into the countryside using hounds instead.

Argus: The chase outside the White Hart HotelThe chase outside the White Hart Hotel

Southdown and Eridge Hunt have now applied to close the road at the same location earlier from 10am to 10.30am in a bid to avoid activists blocking the road.

But Action Against Fox Hunting has also applied to extend the road closure between 9am and 11am. Both applications are currently under consultation.

Lewes residents are divided on the issue. “I don't necessarily agree with stalking,” Joe Gander said, “but what happened to tradition? Have we all become a society where we bow down to idiots?”

“It's been a tradition for as long as we can remember, and it's just another nail in the coffin for rural people,” Nigel Lee said.

But Angela Fisher said: “Tradition is good, but not when it's essentially a celebration of a barbaric act.”

Last year, Lewes District Council received two requests to close roads, one from a hunting group and one from Action Against Fox Hunting.

The Argus: Encounter in a previous haunting in LewesConfrontation in a previous chase in Lewes

“After consulting with legal agencies, both events were offered road closures in the city on Christmas Day at two separate locations,” Councilor Johnny Dennis said.

“Careful consideration has been given to the Action Against Fox Hunting guidelines when processing these applications, as well as the national legislation under which all road closure applications must be dealt with.

“Issuing a road closure does not constitute an endorsement of an event. We ask that anyone planning to attend either event do so peacefully.”

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