The cruelty of greyhound racing is returning to Oxford

When thinking about the city of Oxford the spires, the University, Harry Potter, the Thames, and the diverse nature and culture of the city usually comes to mind.

However, this is all set to change now that Oxford City Council is bringing back cruel greyhound racing to the city.

With Oxford City Council speaking out against badger culling in 2020, it is unbelievable that the very same council has now given the green light to bring back greyhound racing to the old stadium at Blackbird Leys.

Galliard Homes, which owns the track, feels it has no option but to agree to sign a deal with Kevin Boothby from Henlow racing.

Our contact there told us: “For a number of years Galliard did not have any meetings with the council, because they set as a pre-condition before any meeting arrangement – a guarantee from us, that we would bring back Greyhound Racing to the Stadium. We of course would not agree to such a condition. Oxford City Council have adopted a new Local Plan which under Policy SP51, despite our best efforts to avoid this, seeks the return of greyhound racing.”

The League has been in contact with the city council since 2018. Back then we wrote a letter to Councillor Linda Smith laying out the facts, that greyhound racing is not only (and most importantly) extremely cruel, but it’s also a declining business, and that by supporting this industry they are complicit in cruelty. The council said there is nothing it could do and its local plan shows greyhound racing in Oxford is commercially viable.

With tracks across the country such as Belle Vue closing down because of financial trouble it is incomprehensible that the council is even contemplating bringing this cruelty back to Oxford.

But let’s focus on the cruelty.

According to the greyhound industry’s own figures, at least 200 greyhounds tragically died trackside at stadiums across Britain last year and 3,575 were injured, despite a racing schedule reduced by a third due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s not just about statistics. When our Head of Campaigns, Nick Weston, visited the then Hillside racing kennels, which had only recently closed, he wasn’t prepared for what he saw. You can read more about its horrors in this story.

Knowing these truths, Councillor Lucy Pegg has brought a motion against greyhound racing coming back to Oxford. It will hopefully be heard at the next council meeting on 29 November. We are supporting the councillor in this action and will join other groups opposing greyhound racing outside on the evening of the 29. Please join us if you can.

We join a coalition of groups, including PETA, Oxford Vegan Action, The Forever Hounds Trust and Greyt Exploitations campaigning to see greyhound racing banned from the city. You too can make your voice heard.

Please help us take action to end greyhound racing in Oxford. We urge residents in Oxfordshire to sign this petition and support it. Please add your name and share it with any friends or family in the county. It only takes a few minutes to sign. It runs until 3 December 2021.

We will also be campaigning in the city on Cornmarket Street at 12pm on the 14th November to raise awareness of the cruelty of greyhound racing. Please join is if you can. We will have leaflets and placards. 

We are always keen to welcome new members to our supporter groups, who campaign to directly end cruelty to animals in the name of so-called sport. If you are interested in joining your local League Against Cruel Sports group, please email me at emilylawrence@league.org.uk

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