It’s been 20 years since the Fox Hunting Ban - let’s eliminate the loopholes, and end it for good   2024 marks a special anniversary - 20 years since the Hunting Act legislation I am proud to have promoted, and voted for as a local MP, became law.   It's one of the best things I helped achieve. It was violent though - with my staff and I subject to attacks by stone throwers, and on one terrible occasion, a female staff member of mine was beaten up by two male pro-hunt thugs seeing her hospitalised.   You, dear reader, probably think that this barbaric 'sport' has been confined to the history books where it belongs. It hasn’t.   Foxes are still dying in the jaws of foxhounds because loopholes in the 2004 legislation have been exploited.   Under the Hunting Act, hounds are still allowed to follow a put down animal-based scent called trail hunting.   This just a smokescreen used by bloodthirsty individuals to obfuscate and hide the fact that illegal hunting is going on - a way to hoodwink and sidestep the law.   But don’t take my word for it. The League Against Cruel Sports, which I am proud to Chair, have identified hundreds of cases of suspected illegal hunting and hunt havoc in 2023, including during supposed “trail hunts”.   Locally, we saw the prosecution last month of an Avon Vale Hunt member to 240 hours of unpaid work after he “supervised” the throwing of a live fox to a pack of hounds and footage was leaked online. You may have seen this on national TV. Again, this happened during a “trail hunt”.   As your Mayor, as Chair of the League, and as a human being who thinks a true measure of any civilised society is how it treats animals, I am urging the next Government to ban sinister trail hunting once and for all.   This isn’t about destroying traditional ways of life as pro-hunters want to argue.   As Rural Affairs Minister in the last Labour government, and representing the semi-rural area of North East Somerset as MP, I've always had great respect and admiration for the rural communities I've been so proud to represent and work with. I still do as regional mayor.   By all means, ride a predetermined route away from foxes, livestock, crops and private land following a non-animal scent. Wear what you want. Blown horns and celebrate tradition. I can completely understand the enjoyment this brings.   But those people illegally hunting foxes, hares and deer in the local countryside need to be stopped. The law must by applied fairly and justly to all.   People reading this column have have seen TV images showing packs of hounds ripping foxes apart, or getting into private back gardens and killing cherished pets.   There’s not a majority in any part of the country that wants this to continue.   So this year, I am determined that the loophole in the hunting legislation be closed. Let’s use this anniversary to end this barbaric cruelty and completely ban hunting with hounds once and for all.