Countryside Alliance to apply for charitable status

Members of the pro-hunting organisation (Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman, pictured) voted at its annual general meeting in favour of making the application

Barney White-Spunner
Barney White-Spunner

The Countryside Alliance is to make an application to be registered as a charity.

Members of the pro-hunting organisation voted in favour of applying for charitable status at its annual general meeting in London last week.

Barney White-Spunner, the organisation’s executive chairman, wrote in its annual report that he would be asking members to back the move and said that he believed its work was charitable.

"It is becoming very clear that, although we are a membership organisation, what we do is for the benefit of the whole rural community," he wrote. "We may at times major on specific campaigns, and there are issues such as hunting and shooting that are hugely important, but when we do so we are promoting them as part of the wider fabric of our rural economy and community and for the deeper good of that community.

"What we have done over the past 15 years is essentially charitable – a seemingly endless list from mobile phone and broadband coverage, to affordable housing and village shops; from our outstanding awards programme, the Rural Oscars, to Post Offices, from fuel prices to fracking.

"The evolution of the Countryside Alliance over a number of years has reached a point where its objects are charitable and, therefore, we have now concluded that the time has come to register as a charity. Becoming a registered charity, with all its attendant responsibilities and accountability, will be for the benefit of the organisation and will lend greater authority and weight to our voice on the issues we always have and always will address."

The organisation, which has a charitable arm called the Countryside Alliance Foundation, is expected to put in an application to the Charity Commission in the next few weeks.

The alliance, which spent almost £2.9m of its £4.7m income in 2013 on campaigning, is chaired by Kate Hoey, the Labour MP for Vauxhall.

Simon Hart, Conservative MP for Camarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, was chief executive of the alliance before he entered parliament and remains involved with the organisation as a board member.

The organisation has been a vocal critic of the RSPCA in recent years over issues including the animal charity’s private prosecutions of hunt members and its opposition to the badger cull.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in