TWO LEADING Foxhunts, the Bicester with Whaddon Chase and the Cotswold Vale Farmers’ are both looking to the future by investing in new kennels – despite the imposition earlier this year of the hunting ban.
Buoyant development of two new hunt kennels, jointly valued in excess of £1 million, stand as a "bricks and mortar" testament to the hunting fraternity's determination to fight the ban.
The Bicester with Whaddon Chase is confident the Hunting Act will be overturned by the time its new kennels open — most likely sometime in 2007.
The hunt has also unveiled a new name: Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hound Club.
The Cotswold Vale Farmers’ hunt has already moved into new kennels, which were officially opened last weekend by Baroness Mallalieu.
The Cotswold Vale Farmers' previously shared a base with the Croome and West Warwickshire. It funded its new kennels via the purchase of 36 acres of land in Gotherington and the resale of 30 acres.
Joint-master Geoff Peters told Horse & Hound magazine that he preferred not to divulge the cost of the development — kennels for 30 to 40 couple of hounds; a stable complex for five horses and a mobile home for staff — but he said the positive message it sent was invaluable.
"It's a milestone in our continued fight against the ban and we have to keep going until the law is rescinded or overturned," he said. "The Cotswold Vale Farmers' plans to maintain its hounds, new kennels and infrastructure during this period of what is considered to be a temporary ban and, to this end, we will continue to operate within the law."
Around 600 people attended the official opening of the new kennels for the Cotswold Vale Farmers Hunt last Sunday.
Baroness Mallalieu, Labour peer and President of the Countryside Alliance, officially opened the new Cotswold Vale Farmers Hunt kennels at Gotherington Fields, near Cheltenham on Sunday 30th October, which will also stable five horses and provide a home for huntsman, Alan Morgan and his wife, Pat.
Joint Master, Judy Pullen, said, "We only have 35 subscribers but we have a lot of support amongst the farming community. That has been shown by the turnout today, which is wonderful."
Countryside Alliance, Wessex Regional Director, Delly Everard said "This is yet another example that the ban has not worked. The determined and united spirit shown by the Cotswold Vale Farmers’ at such a dark time for hunting as we used to know it, is an example to us all."
Likewise, Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hound Club huntsman Patrick Martin said he was confident the ban was "going to be changed in the near future".
Masters of Foxhounds Association director Alastair Jackson echoed the positive spirit: "The building of these kennels demonstrates the optimistic attitude of hunts and their determination that this unjust law will be overturned."