Deeping St Nicholas registers ‘disappointment’ in MP on hare coursing

COUNCIL CONCERN: John Hayes MP is getting a letter from Deeping St Nicholas Parish Council expressing "disappointment" over his absence from two debates about hare coursing within the past two months.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG070117-209TW.
COUNCIL CONCERN: John Hayes MP is getting a letter from Deeping St Nicholas Parish Council expressing "disappointment" over his absence from two debates about hare coursing within the past two months. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG070117-209TW.
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Deeping St Nicholas Parish Council is writing to its MP with concerns over his absence from two recent meetings about hare coursing.

South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes was unavailable when farmers met Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Bill Skelly and Marc Jones, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, near Boston last month.

Mr Hayes was also absent from a House of Commons debate on rural policing and hare coursing on March 7 when among those to speak was Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman who represents Kirton, Swineshead and Wyberton.

At a meeting on Monday, parish councillors unanimously agreed to write to Mr Hayes and ask what pressure he was putting on the Government to tackle hare coursing nationally.

Coun David Branton, parish council vice chairman, said: “The Deepings has been at the centre of a lot of hare coursing concerns and it’s disappointing that we don’t seem to have the support from the MP that we should.

“There was a debate in the House of Commons on March 7 brought up by John Glen MP, of Salisbury and South Wiltshire.

Hare coursing has been an issue at our last few meetings and it’s disappointing that Mr Hayes didn’t talk about it in Parliament

Coun William Rodwell, Chairman of Deeping St Nicholas Parish Council

“I found it particularly disappointing that our own MP wasn’t there at that debate and there wasn’t any comment from him.”

A spokesman for Mr Hayes, currently overseas in his role as Transport Minister, said: “As a Minister, Mr Hayes can only speak on issues relating to his ministerial portfolio so he couldn’t have spoken at that debate.

“In addition, Mr Hayes had a long-standing diary commitment on February 19 when NFU members met the Chief Constable and Commissioner near Boston and he did apologise for his absence.

“However, Mr Hayes has written to the Chief Constable and the Justice Secretary recently about hare coursing, following correspondence from constituents, to ask about the possibility of stiffer fines and alternate means of punishment for those found guilty.

But parish council chairman, Coun William Rodwell, said: “Hare coursing has been an issue at our last few meetings and it’s disappointing that Mr Hayes didn’t talk about it in Parliament.”

During the parliamentary debate itself, Mr Glen quoted figures from Lincolnshire Police which showed that it dealt with nearly 2,200 reports of hare coursing between September 2015 and March 2016.

Mr Glen said: “Some 176 men were charged or reported for summons, but only 25 were actually convicted and 117 cases were discontinued, usually when witnesses declined to give statements for fear of reprisals.

“Until the Government sends a clear message that farmers will be properly protected and perpetrators brought to justice, the unwillingess to provide evidence will only increase.”