In a series of unfolding events in Lewes, the traditional Boxing Day Wheelbarrow Run, a key fundraising event for the local Foodbank, has been cancelled amidst growing concerns over public safety. This decision comes in the wake of the Lewes District Council’s refusal to grant a road closure for the Southdown & Eridge Hunt, which had applied for a closure along High Street Lewes, from Fisher Street to Nevill Road, on December 26th.
Instead, the Council approved a road closure for the Action Against Foxhunting’s Community Foodbank Fundraiser, scheduled to take place between 11am and 12pm on the same day. This decision has significantly impacted the plans for the Wheelbarrow Run.
Sussex News understands that Southdown & Eridge Hunt will still go ahead without the road closure and they will parade down Lewis High Street just before 10 am when the Wheelbarrow race was supposed to start.
The Hunt said “We will be leaving the [Brook Street] parking area all together at 9.55am to be escorted up the High Street so please be ready in good time.”
Protect the Wild contacted Lewes Council to ask for a comment. It said:“The Southdown and Eridge Hunt withdrew their application. I understand that after consulting with police, they have decided to ride through the town anyway. The council’s only involvement is in the granting or refusal of road closure applications.”
Sussex Police were asked for comment by Protect the Wild but as far as we know no response has been issued.
The organisers of the Wheelbarrow Run have expressed their profound sadness and anguish over the event’s cancellation. They reported receiving online threats from the SDE hunting community, who claimed they would disrupt the event. These threats were promptly reported to Sussex Police for further action.
In an effort to resolve the situation, the organisers sent two open letters to the SDE hunt, firstly requesting them to relocate their event and subsequently seeking assurances against any disruptions. However, the absence of a response from the SDE hunt left the organizers with unresolved safety concerns.
A spokesperson for the Wheelbarrow Run stated, “Because we cannot guarantee the safety of the public, the runners, the organisers, or the Mayor, we have had no choice but to cancel the event.”