On Thursday (7 May) the country goes to the polls, and equestrian organisations are “imploring” whoever will be the new leader to tackle issues within the industry.
This February saw the 10-year anniversary of the Hunting Act, brought in by a Labour government.
However, a recent YouGov poll suggests that public support for the Hunting Act has dropped from 61% to 51% since 2004. Opposition to the Act stands at 44% among Conservative voters, but 64% of Labour voters are in support.
Parties have set out their manifestos, and issues — including hunting — are highlighted (see below).
“It will be so important for the new administration to work with the [equestrian] sector to meet the challenges as clearly laid out in the sector’s Manifesto for the Horse. Despite financial constraints we implore the new government to think very carefully before taking the cheap option to meet any of these challenges,” said Roly Owers of World Horse Welfare.
“For example, completing the job of introducing a robust system of equine identification is pivotal, and poor decision-making on the basis of costs could have widespread ramifications, including on food safety. And the dysfunctional and ineffective system of compliance checking and enforcement of welfare, health and documentation laws at British ports is a ticking time bomb.
“We need effective intelligence-led enforcement to protect our horses, and World Horse Welfare and other NGOs [non-governmental organisations] can help to achieve this, but only if the systems are in place to do so.”
James Legge, head of political affairs for the Countryside Alliance (CA), said that many of the issues identified in the CA’s election manifesto have been picked up by the political parties.
“Clearly we also welcome the Conservative commitment to protect hunting, shooting and fishing, and to give parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act,” he said.
“The Green Party has launched an all-out attack on country sports. UKIP and the Liberal Democrats are silent on the issue. Whatever the outcome of the election there will be much to do not only to ensure that policies deliver, but also that the interests of the country sports community are protected.”
What the parties are offering in their manifestos that could affect equestrians
Free vote on hunting
14,000 flood defence schemes
Make good biodiversity losses from HS2
Major review of business rates
Country of origin food labelling in Europe
Defend the hunting ban
Keep forests in public ownership
Prioritise flood prevention
Freeze business rates and energy bills for small rural companies
New, non-political body to manage national forests
Review governance of flood risk and drainage
Low emission zones in towns
Speed limits of 20mph in villages
Review racing and ban the whip
Introduce land value tax
Extra £1bn on flood defences
Animal cruelty more punishable
Mandatory CCTV in abattoirs
Add rare-breed saving to stewardship schemes
Ref: H&H 30 May, 2015