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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 15:04 GMT
Conference hunt demo greets Blair
Pro-hunt protest at Gateshead
Protesters were kept well away from the conference venue
Pro-hunt supporters gathered on Tyneside to protest at Labour's spring conference on Friday.

Members of the Countryside Alliance demonstrated on the Newcastle side of the River Tyne, opposite the Sage Gateshead, the site of the conference.

As Tony Blair arrived, along with various ministers and delegates, the protesters waved placards and banners.

Simon Hart, the Countryside Alliance's chief executive, said the fight would continue to prevent the ban.

He told protesters, who had travelled from across the UK to show their feelings at the ban which comes into effect on 18 February, that they would take their fight to the polls at the General Election.

He said: "We have a job to do between now and 6 May and that is to use every ounce of energy to make sure that the people who have treated Parliament with contempt are replaced by politicians who will represent the interests of country people - a persecuted minority.

Legal battle

"I think today shows that we have to keep on going until May in order to make a difference."

Protesters also tied red chairs to a temporary safety fence in front of the River Tyne to symbolise the number of Labour MPs whose majorities may be in danger at the expected general election later this year.

Currently the Countryside Alliance is fighting a legal battle to overturn the Act, which was forced through Parliament by the Parliament Act last year.

By early afternoon, much of the protest had passed off peacefully with organisers believing there would be no repeat of the trouble that marred the pro-hunt demonstration outside Parliament in September.

Northumbria Police had said the pedestrian Millennium Bridge, by the demonstration site, would be shut if necessary.




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