The ancient Gloucestershire club is enjoying a new lease of life, provided with a thrilling and fully legal substitute for fox-hunting.
Suspected sexual deviants can now expect to be accosted at any time with shouts of “tally-ho” and the baying of hounds, as the West Country squires and farmers get into the spirit of their five-year renewable contract with the Home Office.
“This was a job traditionally left to vigilante groups from council estates armed with pickaxe handles and meat cleavers”, says Home Office spokesman Jason Ellis. “People will no doubt protest at an English amateur tradition being outsourced to professionals and bureaucratised, but the coalition government is committed to efficiency and accountability. Random lynchings are no longer good enough. We need an organised system with targets, league tables, and progress reports. We feel that's best entrusted to people who went to Sandhurst and drive Range Rovers”.
With the increase in celebrity suspects, it is also privately admitted that working-class vigilante mobs were starting to be viewed as unreliable, as they might be reluctant to hunt down their favorite TV personalities. “Those county types are the ones you can depend on”, said one Whitehall insider, “a land-owning baronet won't be in awe of a soap star”.
Mrs Ellen Jones, a Cheltenham hospital worker, had the honour of giving the hunt their first tip-off and then watching them chase one of her neighbours for two miles before he was cornered and set upon by the hounds in a Tesco carpark to ecstatic cheering from shoppers.
“He was a proper creepy character - spent all his time indoors, collecting dusty old books” said Mrs Jones. “And he was quite open about his perversion, he told me about it himself...actually, now that I think of it, what he said was bibliophile, not paedophile...but then, if he had nothing to hide, why would he run?”