A COVID grant of £10,000 government cash has been given to the Isle of Wight Hunt — administered by the Isle of Wight Council.

The council issued the payment through the Small Business Scheme and said the hunt was eligible and qualified for the money under the scheme's guidelines.

It has drawn criticism from some County Press readers, who contacted the paper to complain about the handout.

Shanklin resident Jeanie Brown said: "I have had various gripes with the actions of the Isle of Wight Council, but their latest stunt really does take the biscuit.

"To grant The Isle of Wight Hunt a £10,000 Covid grant is the most disgusting, outrageous, disgraceful act yet.

"Especially at a time like this, when money is scarce and people are desperately trying to make ends meet, and many just causes could have benefitted much more.

"Did it ever occur to this council that the people they represent, the people paying council tax, would definitely not want their money given to the hunt. Can the council justify this to its council tax payers?"

Another reader, who lives in Gatcombe near the hunt base and did not want to be identified, said the fund should not be used to support 'leisure hobbies' and the hunt was already supported by 'wealthy individuals'.

Under UK law it is illegal to hunt foxes with a pack of dogs, but hunts can use dogs to simulate hunting, for example drag or trail hunting.

The Isle of Wight Council is required by government to issue the Small Business Scheme grant payments to those businesses which are eligible and qualify under the scheme guidelines. The scheme guidelines are set by government and this particular scheme is not a discretionary scheme. The council cannot comment on individual grant payments.

The County Press has asked the council for further details and is awaiting a response to specific questions about the handout, including the date of the handout.

Under government rules, any business that occupies a property and receives small business rate relief or rural rate relief is eligible for a small business grant for Covid-19.

The cash comes from central government and is administered by local authorities.

Read more: Footballers should fund kids' meals not Isle of Wight Council

A report in The Independent said about 180 local authorities had not given any funding to hunts, and only seven — including the Isle of Wight Council — had. Some local authorities refused to give the information.

On September 14, the Isle of Wight Hunt was cautioned for breaking a noise abatement notice, in a case brought by the Isle of Wight Council.

A trial had been scheduled to be heard at the Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court, however an 'accommodation' was reached beforehand between the council and the Hunt's directors, Anthony Blest and John Curtis.

The failure to comply was caused by the 'statutory nuisance' of barking and/or howling of a hound or hounds, without reasonable excuse, contrary to section 80 (4) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Duncan Milne, prosecuting, offered no formal evidence to the court. The hunt admitted the offence and signed the caution at County Hall instead.

In December, huntsman Rupert Inglesant was taken to court after his terrier bit a woman.

Read more: Huntsman in court over dangerously out of control terrier