Horses illegally left to ‘fly-graze’ on Newark and Sherwood District Council land are becoming such a problem that the council is asking for the public’s help in enforcing a legal crack-down on the owners of the animals.
Terry Bailey, anti-social behaviour officer, said: “We are relying on people to help us identify the owners by contacting the council when they see anyone approaching or feeding the horses, and letting us know of any vehicle details they can pass on. The person feeding the horses may not be the owner but they might lead us to who the owner is.
“We have had a spate of horses on Hawtonville and other areas where council land is being used for fly-grazing. We’ve had some success in dealing with owners of horses by threating legal action and some of them have removed their horses from council land.
“We have had some complaints about this from the public and we are in the process of doing more to try to put a complete stop to it... We have to look in detail now at the remaining horses in areas such as Cherry Holt Park, the Winston Court area and Bowbridge Road, which are the main areas where we are currently concentrating our attentions. We are gathering evidence in these areas so that we can take action against those responsible and have established a data base of pictures and information to use when taking legal action. Legal signs have also been erected to warn potential fly-grazers in some of the play areas.”
Some residents feared that the horses could charge at them or bite them, and horses defecating and urinating on these spaces was another problem: “This kind of communal space is not a paddock. We don’t suggest people approach the horses, or sit on the ground near them, and it just means the public cannot use these spaces for the purpose intended. The public pay their council tax and their rents and should be able to use these spaces, but unfortunately they can’t.”
Residents had also expressed concern about the welfare of some of the horses, which were sometimes left exposed to all weathers, with no access to shelter unless they could huddle close to a building, making them even more of a problem for people wanting access to their homes. There have also been reported incidents of horses getting untethered and running down residential streets.
Mr Bailey said that all agencies on the estate including the district council, Newark and Sherwood Homes and the Police, were working together to identify who the owners are and to take action, using different evidence gathering measures including CCTV. “We need the owners of these horses to know that we mean business and that we will pursue them in the courts unless they get their horses off council land.”