The Countryside Alliance’s Polly Portwin asks: ‘Are you a National Trust member?’


  • HAVE you played your part in helping to secure the future of trail-hunting on National Trust land? If not, you’ve got just a few more days to help defeat a proposal to ban this lawful activity from taking place on land managed by the institutional landowner.

    The Trust’s members have been invited to vote on a members’ resolution which proposes to ban trail-hunting, exempt hunting and hound exercise on Trust land. We are urging members to vote against this resolution, by either voting online or by returning the voting forms found in the Trust’s AGM booklet, before voting closes on 22 October.

    A number of hunts apply for licences to access Trust land each season and would consequently suffer a loss of important trail-hunting country if this access was denied in the future. Although the pack you support may not apply for a licence itself, we hope that you will support those packs that rely on it for access.

    Many of the Trust’s members are H&H readers, live in the countryside and follow hounds themselves. There are, however, millions of others who do not subscribe to the same publications or follow the same social media feeds as those who support trail-hunting, so they may not be aware of the forthcoming vote. It is those members we want to reach out to as we approach the deadline.

    Just over 1% of the Trust’s membership elected to vote on this same issue back in 2017, with a ban avoided by just 299 votes. This indicates that more than 99% of the Trust’s members – which represent a huge cross-section of our society – took a decision to allow trail-hunting to continue, either by voting against the motion or not voting at all. This is in stark contrast to the unsubstantiated figures that the animal rights lobby use when claiming the majority of the public want to ban trail-hunting.

    In order to be submitted, the resolution had to be signed by only 50 members of the Trust. One has to question the democracy of a system where an organisation with more than 5.6 million members is compelled to debate an issue that has been proposed by less than 0.0009% of its membership.

    Furthermore, the same issue can be proposed and debated every three years, which is what the hunting community is facing, although with Covid leading to the AGM being cancelled in 2020, it is now four years since the matter of trail-hunting was debated by the Trust’s membership in 2017.

    Although we know those opposed to our activities will always make spurious allegations about our activities, hunting is not a priority issue for the majority of the population. We must, however, win this vote while reminding the Trust that it should not become reactionary to persistent pressure groups who use persuasive and emotive language in their campaigns.

    If every person who supports the continuation of this lawful activity on Trust land encouraged just one more Trust member who didn’t vote in 2017 to use their vote this year, then it could help make a difference to the outcome when the votes are counted on 30 October.

    Please ensure that when the result of the vote is announced, you can say you did everything you could to encourage every Trust member you know to vote against this resolution.

    • This exclusive column is also available to read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 14 October

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