A NEW poll published to coincide with Boxing Day, the biggest hunting day of the year, has shown a lack of public support for lifting the hunting ban.

The Ipsos MORI survey for the League Against Cruel Sports showed 76% of the British public think fox hunting should remain illegal.

Douglas Batchelor, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports said: “Bloodsports are a thing of the past and the public don't want the clock turned back to cruelty.

“We also know that the balance of opinion in the House of Commons is firmly against repeal of the Hunting Act, and so it's time the hunters got the message that it's game over.”

The coalition government has promised to allow MPs a free vote on whether to bring forward legislation to repeal the Hunting Act, but no date has been given for the vote.

Recent figures released by the league showed a majority of MPs would vote against repeal.

Meanwhile, a poll carried out by ORB for the Countryside Alliance showed that six out of ten people think the Hunting Act has been a waste of police time.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Alice Barnard said: “Police officers have spent endless time investigating allegations made by animal rights activists when they could have been tackling real crime like burglary, knife crime and drug dealing.”

In West Somerset hunts braved the harsh weather to press ahead with their traditional Boxing Day hunting.

Andrew Turner, a spokesman from the Minehead Harriers, said: “It was very cold but despite that several hundred people turned up.”

He added: “We went on foot this year rather than on horses because the ice is slippery for the horses”