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Dudley Council to get tough on "endemic" horse problem
11:06am Friday 14th September 2012 in News
DUDLEY Council is getting tough on irresponsible horse owners after a report revealed a shocking number of stray animals.
The authority's Cabinet was told in just one month last year the council received 119 reports of stray horses and, in April and June last year, a total of 150 horses were recovered from borough roads or nearby land.
Cabinet members were also told stray horses had become such a problem that finding a solution had become paramount.
Cllr Tracy Wood, cabinet member for environment and culture, said: "This is an emotive and sensitive issue which is of great concern to the council and the rest of the people of Dudley. This is a very good and robust policy."
Councillors heard the problem of illegal grazing on council land and stray horses had been endemic in the Black Country for decades, and irresponsible owners were prone to tethering or just leaving their animals to roam on parks, sports pitches, nature reserves and other open land.
Council workers sent to deal with unlawful grazing have been threatened and had their vehicles and property damaged.
Under the new policy the authority, in conjunction with police, will send bailiffs to remove stray horses from highways and use legal powers to restrict the numbers of horses on publicly accessible land.
Dudley Council leases 112 acres of grazing land for horse owners to rent and has pledged to make sure the land is occupied to maximum capacity, although officers concede some of the fields need fence repairs before they can be re-let.
Coucillors also voted to make use of the 2006 Animal Welfare Act to issue improvement notices to owners or, in partnership with police, to take emergency action.
The council is also encouraging members of the public to use its Horse Reporting Line by calling 01384 814182 to pass on information.