Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PLAN TO GET HORSES OFF WASTELAND; Permanent Home Idea Welcomed

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PLAN TO GET HORSES OFF WASTELAND; Permanent Home Idea Welcomed

Article excerpt

Byline: EMMA GREENHALGH

emma.greenhalgh@eveninggazette.co.uk HORSE owners have applauded a proposed scheme that would give them somewhere to permanently home their ponies.

There have been dozens of complaints made about the hundreds of horses being kept on rough land across South Bank and Grangetown.

But, under a new scheme, the local authority could put aside some land in the Eston area for them to graze for a small fee.

It is the idea of the Joint Equine Group, a police-led partnership set up to tackle the problem.

The proposal - still in its early stages - has been welcomed by horse owners, who say they care for their horses but need somewhere nearby to keep them.

Chris Elcoate, 25, who has a horse on Mannion Park and another in Grangetown said he is happy to work alongside police.

When the equine group formed in March there were between 200 and 250 horses recorded as tethered or kept in gardens, within a one-and-a-half mile radius. But only one was actually abandoned.

Ponies are being kept on free land - from wasteland to an allotment site - which is either council or privately owned. Hotspot sites in Grangetown include public land in an area known as Mushroom Grove as well as Argyle Road.

Bevanlee Road in South Bank has also been pinpointed.

But police expect numbers could be on the rise again with foals being born and the Appleby Horse Fair - a major horse trading event -taking place this week.

Tethering is not specifically illegal in itself, but the RSPCA does not recommend it as a way to keep a horse. Under the Animal Welfare Act owners also have a legal duty of care to meet their needs. Owners could be in breach of the act by tethering a horse, if it means that the animal's basic requirements are not being met.

Greater Eston neighbourhood policing officer PC Mike Pilbeam, who is heading the equine group, said the horses were mostly being well cared for. He has, however, received 45 complaints through police and 39 through Redcar and Cleveland Council in the last two months regarding tethered or loose horses.

"The problem is certainly on the increase," he said. …

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