12:00pm Monday 20th September 1999
Hunt supporters planning a mass protest at the Labour Party conference today expressed anger at Tony Blair's attempts to calm the impending storm.
They spoke out after the Prime Minister said he had no plans to ban shooting or fishing - but claimed that hunting was not a main issue of concern in the rural community.
Hundreds of hunting enthusiasts from Yorkshire will be taking a special train from York down to Bournemouth to protest at Tony Blair's plans to scrap the blood sport within the next two years.
Demonstrations will also be taking place elsewhere across the country.
The Countryside Alliance has called on North and East Yorkshire hunt followers to take part in its 16,000-strong demonstration at the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth.
Today Nigel Henson, its director of communications, said of Mr Blair: "His comments confirm that the Government is hell bent on persecuting a legitimate minority in the community."
He said he did not believe Mr Blair's other claims that he would not ban fishing or shooting.
"I think hunting remains a very big concern to the rural community," said Alistair Jackson, director of the Masters of the Fox Hounds Association.
"It's yet another statement implying he will not try to ban hunting," he said of Mr Blair's comments.
"It will result in even more people wishing to make their views felt at the other regional demonstrations."
Frank Houghton-Brown, master of the Middleton Hunt, said those to lobby the conference represented the number of jobs that would be lost nationwide if the sport were banned.
He said: "Bournemouth is not a very big place and country people didn't want to swamp it so it was thought the best way of stating our point without wrecking the conference was to limit it to 16,000 - which will represent the number of jobs that would be directly lost if hunting was banned.
"And there would be a lot more jobs lost indirectly as well."
He said in his small village, Birdsall, nine people alone were employed directly by the hunt - three to look after hounds, one man who built fences and five people who looked after the horses.
Many employees lived in tied cottages and would also lose these if hunting were banned.
"It's a complete rural way of life which the urban majority don't understand," he said.
He said around 50 people from the hunt would be travelling down. A similar number will be travelling from the Sinnington Hunt as well as other local hunts.
John Haigh, area spokesman for the Countryside Alliance, said 600 of the 16,000 protesters would be from Yorkshire.
He said: "They will be people who are employed and whose livelihoods depend on hunting."
The protest will be followed by a series of demonstrations in the run-up to the Queen's speech on November 17.
Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group