2 August 2002

Crowds out in force to back countryside sports

Soaring temperatures and a

return to the setting of

Broadlands Estate, Hants,

helped boost attendance

for the CLA Game Fair on

July 26-28 to a record

126,000. But, with Whitehall

threatening the liberty and

livelihood of country sporting

enthusiasts, there is a

growing sense of unity in

the countryside that meant

this years event was always

going to be backed in

numbers come rain or shine.

farmers weekly reports

OVER 12,000 people attending the CLA Game Fair signed up for Countryside Alliances Liberty and Livelihood march in London, bringing the total number of registrations to over 75,000.

An alliance spokesman said the organisation had seen an amazing response to its request for people to indicate whether they will be attending the event on Sept 22.

"People were flocking to us," he said. "We gathered over 12,000 signatures during the event.

"As we get closer to the march it is now starting to loom in peoples minds. We are well on target to putting enough people on the streets to get our message across."

The spokesman refused to give details of what the alliances target is for the total number of marchers. But a recent newsletter said numbers must exceed the 250,000 who turned up in 1998 to show the growing defiance.

To help convince people that they do want to get involved, the alliance has produced a leaflet entitled: Why Farmers must March on September 22.

It seeks to reassure producers that the march is about trying to help make the countryside a viable place in which to live and work and not just about the threat to hunting.

The leaflet argues that if the roles were reversed the hunting community would be prepared to stand up for farmers.

"The hunting community rallied around during the foot-and-mouth crisis and will continue to do all in its power to support the farming community. Farming and hunting have always had close ties, and it is in our mutual interest to support each other," it said.

It also pointed out that hunts help farmers to deal with the problem of fallen livestock and play a valuable role in terms of pest control in many parts of the country.

"If hunting were banned farmers would be faced with substantial new difficulties and costs," it claimed.

lA phone registration hotline is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm on 0900 102-0900. Calls cost 60p/minute and cost a maximum of £1.80. The average call should last two minutes.

Every person who registers receives a badge, a march information pack and a car sticker – if one person calls to register for their family – each family member receives a badge. Registration is also taking place across the country at Countryside Alliance stands and shows or interested parties can register on-line at www.march-info.org &#42

Isabel Davies

The other kind of horsepower… The Conutryside Alliance wants farmers to march on Sept 22.