A Cheshire hunt has apologised to parents after claims that 50 horses and dozens of hounds passed a primary school as terrified children were about to go home.
Parents say the Cheshire Forest Hunt paraded down the tiny country road in Byley, near Northwich, and their children were frightened as up to 40 hounds round by. One mother said the parents, some of whom were pushing prams, were forced to walk in the road, because hunt supporters had parked their cars on either side.
Joanne Marsh, who was meeting her three-year-old son Loren from Byley Primary School, said the hunt refused to move, even for the children. “They hunt was all over the place. We told them to move but they didn’t budge and they told my friend, who had a pram, to walk in the road if she wanted to pass. We couldn’t cross the road and parents were grabbing their children who were hysterical. Even when I was in the phone box ringing the police, the hunt was shouting at me. They said ‘who do you think you are’ and I told them that I lived in the village. It was horrible. I just wanted them to leave us alone.”
Headteacher Angela Millerchip said she had never known the hunt to pass the school and confirmed that she had spoken to parents who were concerned for their children’s safety.
“Traffic congestion is a problem on such a small country road anyway and I understand it was quite bad because there were so many hunt supporters parked all over the place,” she said. “Hopefully it was a one-off, but if it happens again, then the school will contact the hunt involved.”
The Forest Hunt regularly uses land in the Byley area but Huntmaster Peter Hunter, who was not present at Wednesday’s meet, said the school lane was not a route they normally used and issued an apology.
“I’m very sorry if there was a problem and people were inconvenienced, and we are looking into it.”
The Countryside Protection Group launched a few months ago to represent people whose lives are affected by hunting said this sort of incident is growing. “Already this year the CPG has been swamped with calls from rural residents complaining about the activities of fox-hunting, which shows that it’s not just wildlife that suffers,” said Cheshire-based North West representative Chris Owen.
“People joke about the so-called ‘Hooray Henrys’ of the countryside, but to the rural communities who villages and access roads are clogged by riders, hounds and followers, it is no laughing matter.” The League Against Cruel Sports, which monitors fox hunts, has witnessed incidents in Cheshire of hounds wandering on busy roads.