19 April 2002

Date set for mass protest

THE Countryside Alliance has named Sunday, Sept 22 as the date for a mass protest march in London against plans to ban hunting with hounds.

The date, just a week before the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool, will mark the end of the "summer of discontent" promised by the alliance.

Alliance chief executive Richard Burge said: "The purpose of this march will be to show parliament that it would be foolish to ignore the scale and distrust and anger rural people feel at this moment. Politically the countryside is tinder dry."

Police believe that up to 500,000 hunt supporters could take to the streets of the capital after a government consultation on the future of the sport.

Some parts of the pro-hunting lobby are believed to want the march to be solely about hunting, but a spokesman for the alliance said many people would be there to raise additional issues.

"Hunting will be the catalyst for the march and we hope everyone there will be in support of hunting continuing," the spokesman said. People need not actually go hunting to attend but they should at least respect the views of people who do want to go, he added.

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