A BID to ban hunting with dogs on council-owned land has been rejected.

Colchester councillor Lee Scordis put forward the motion calling on Essex County Council to not to allow any future trail hunting and exercising of packs of fox hounds on its land.

Trail hunting involves laying of a scent across the countryside which a pack of hounds then searches for and follows.

The practice, and exercising hounds, are legal and the Countryside Alliance said there was “no justification” for the motion.

Hunting foxes with dogs is illegal but there are a number of exemptions which Labour councillors said were being used to get round the law.

But councillors disagreed and branded the move “illogical” and “a nonsense”.

Independent councillor Kerry Smith said he could not support the motion.

He said: “This motion is not sound as it seeks indirectly to remove the rights of the common man to freely use public rights of way.

“These are hard won rights I will not seek to tamper with.”

Fellow independent Jo Beavis, who represents Halstead, said she could see no reason for the ban as no Essex huntsmen had been question by police for a breach of the law.

She said: “This motion has caused much alarm in my division. Huntsmen are confused because without any serious reason a motion has been moved to consider this legal activity. The motion is entirely illogical.”

Labour councillor Ivan Henderson spoke in support of the motion and urged councillors to help stop hunting on council land.

However, the motion was rejected.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance: “We are pleased the council voted against a motion to ban the legal activities of trail hunting and hound exercise.

“It is a great shame councillors had to waste time on such a pointless and divisive debate but we are grateful they rejected the proposal.

“Hunts in Essex have been hunting an artificial scent legally since the Hunting Act came into force in 2005.

“There are at least eight packs of hounds operating in the county throughout the autumn and winter yet none has ever been charged with a hunting offence. The suggestion they are not hunting lawfully is completely unfounded.”