RIDERS at a traditional Worcestershire Boxing Dhunt meet have said the Government is “on trust” to hold a free vote on the hunting ban, as the coalition promised.

Ministers have confirmed the ban will stay in place next year because financial issues have to be prioritised first.

However, Tash Wheeler, joint master of the Worcestershire hunt, said: “We are not going away.

“It’s a matter of trust between the countryside and the Government. It will take place when the time is right.”

She was speaking to a crowd of about 200 people gathered at the Raven Hotel in Droitwich to watch the start of the hunt yesterday.

It was the second year running that horses were absent from the meet because of the icy conditions underfoot.

Instead, riders held a parade walking on foot with a pack of hounds from the hotel’s car park and along Queen Street.

Miss Wheeler said: “It’s a parade to thank the public for their support. It’s a traditional English sight really.”

The Boxing Day hunt was moved to Monday this year as, traditionally, the hunt does not meet on a Sunday.

John Hughes, of Martin Hussingtree, was there with grandchildren Jemima, aged 11, and Guy, nine.

He said: “I believe it’s part of English tradition and I’m very much a supporter of it.”

Richard Hart had taken children Layla, seven, Chloe, four, and Sacha, three, to see the hunt. Layla said: “It’s good. I like the dogs.”

Also meeting yesterday were huntsmen from Croome and West Warwickshire foxhounds, who set off from the centre of Pershore.

Honorary secretary Anna Millington said about 200 people turned out to see the hunt, led by huntsman Tim Allen. She said: “A lot of people came out considering we are on foot and not on horses. There was a mix of people here, some who just come on Boxing Day and hunting people.”