UPDATE 060816: The next Countryside Live festival will be at the same place as the event described below, on Saturday 24 September 2016 and Sunday 25 September 2016. The Lee Valley CL festival site mentions no hunting activities
SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN urged to boycott a huge annual fair that says it aims to give Londoners an idea of rural life.
The Countryside Live festival due to take place this week at Leyton Marsh by the River Lee will include special schools-only days. Organised by the Countryside Foundation for Education (CFE) in partnership with the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, it presents itself as family-friendly event. Several Hackney primary schools will send pupils.
Some animal-lovers are furious because the festival will include shows by pro-hunting groups. One organisation is urging a boycott.
The Countryside Live website states that the programme includes “gundog training” and “ferret racing”. Among exhibitors will be the De Burgh & North Essex Hare Hounds.
The downloadable teachers’ handbook says that trail hunting with basset-hound packs is an alternative to live hunting, “pending repeal of the Hunting Act”.
Another exhibitor at the schools-only days is the Countryside Alliance Foundation. It offers activities for 7 to 11 year-olds and commends the website of the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance.
Andrew Tyler, of Animal Aid, told Loving Dalston: “Britain’s urban areas have more than enough socially destructive violence without being subjected to propagandists, whose aim is to glorify the shooting and hunting of wild animals for sport. It is outrageous that representatives of these grotesque enterprises should be invited to bend the minds of festival visitors.
“The sooner hunting is a distant memory the better. So-called “game shooting” should also be consigned to history. We urge the people of London to boycott this event.”
Matt Fox, of the League Against Cruel Sports (Lacs), said: “With all that is so enriching about the countryside for young people, it is deeply disappointing to see blood sports, one of which is now illegal, represented at Countryside Live.”
The CFE says that its “mission” is “to educate, inform and inspire children, parents and teachers, so that they can enjoy and appreciate the countryside while having a greater understanding of the wide range of issues surrounding it”.
Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance Foundation, said: “Countryside Live is a fun, family-oriented event aimed at reconnecting children with the natural environment.
“Animal Aid and Lacs should know better than to manufacture a controversy over something that is, at its heart, well-meaning and beneficial to parents and children alike.”
David Altheer 190911
* Countryside Live, Leyton Marsh, behind Lee Valley Ice Centre, Lea Bridge Road, Leyton E10 7QL. Public days, Sat 24 Sept 2011 and Sun 25 Sep, 10am-4.30pm. Entry: adults £3, children free.
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.