Following a very close vote, the Town Council resolved last night not to grant consent to the Beaufort Hunt to continue meeting on the Tetbury Rail Lands.
The Hunt has traditionally met in Tetbury on the first Monday after Christmas, partly in order to present a cheque to Tetbury Hospital. A report prepared for the Council by a Health and Safety consultant specialising in equestrian events identified deficiencies in the Council’s documentation and procedures. The Council has already addressed the immediate concerns and it continues working to rectify the last matters identified by the consultant.
The decision to refuse consent was made on the grounds that the Hunt’s second Risk Assessment did not fully address concerns over the narrow site and contact between riders and hounds with the general public, including families with small children and pushchairs. Whereas the Rail Lands were previously rough open ground, they have recently been developed into attractive parkland with the Goods Shed Arts Centre as a focus for community activity. As a result of that development, the nature of the site on which the Hunt meets has changed, although the Hunt activity has not. In addition, the Council was conscious of the reputational damage associated with public protests and the risk of disorder. It was also aware of the National Trust’s experience of reputational damage following its decision to allow a Hunt to meet on one of its properties.
The Town Council will now work with the Beaufort Hunt to allow the cheque presentation to Tetbury Hospital to continue on a suitable alternative site in Tetbury.