Duchess leads protests against greyhound stadium plans

The Dowager Duchess of Hamilton is leading protests against the building of a controversial greyhound stadium in East Lothian, saying the sport is cruelty to animals and should be banned.

Friday, 1st December 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:40 am
The Duchess of Hamilton is protesting against the East Lothian proposals, Pic Neil Hanna

The long-delayed Wallyford stadium has become more likely after East Lothian Council approved plans for the building of nearly 100 “up-market” homes to fund the project.

Animal rights activist Kay Hamilton, who was married to Angus, the 15th Duke of Hamilton, premier peer of Scotland who died in 2010, has been against the development since it was first mooted nearly two decades ago.

She is urging the council and developers to scrap plans for the stadium.

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There are also fears the track could become a mecca for stag and hen dos.

The stadium project is being led by Edinburgh businessman Howard Wallace and his firm Sirius Sport and Leisure Ltd.

Mr Wallace’s plans were initially turned down by local planners but their decision was overturned by the Scottish Government.

The duchess said: “Greyhounds are the only breed of dog which literally has to run for its life.

“When they are no longer worth their keep in some in way, such as injury, in the opinion of some owners, they are those who fire a bolt through their head to kill them.

“I have also heard about problems with the dogs being drugged.

“Greyhound racing is barbaric and should be banned in the same way as bear-baiting, dog fighting and badger baiting. There is no place for this stadium in a civilised Scotland.”

A No To Greyhound Racing Change.org petition has attracted over 6,500 signatures.

It is calling on Mr Wallace to drop plans for the stadium, and for the council to appoint an animal welfare officer for the stadium who could close the venue down if breaches are uncovered and for it to deny the stadium a drinks licence.

Supporters say the stadium will provide jobs in the leisure industry.

However Gordon Mackett Conservative councillor for Tranent, Wallyford and Macmerry, said many residents were concerned about possible anti-social behaviour from some groups visiting the stadium.

“My personal view is that dog racing does nothing to help promote animal welfare, and as someone who has rescued two dogs, having an operational dog track in my ward is a disturbing thought,” he said.

“Only recently Canberra in New South Wales agreed to ban greyhound racing due to the amount of cruelty associated with the sport, and I strongly believe we need to follow suit.

Cllr Mackett added: “Wallyford has a fantastic community spirit, and the last thing we need is bus loads of stag and hen parties causing disruption in what is a quiet area.”

A spokesman for the council said: “Planning permission for the stadium has been in place for several years. Earlier this year, consent was given to a separate application for 94 homes.

“A binding contract requires to be put in place to ensure the stadium is completed prior to the start of the house building.”

The stadium developers were asked for a response to the criticisms but a spokesman said they did not want to comment.