CAMPAIGNING councillors are getting in the saddle to tackle the mess caused by horses left at a scenic spot in South Tyneside.
This follows numerous complaints about horses, tethered at Hebburn Riverside Park, churning up the grass.
The damage includes large circles of mud on the riverbank, which is a popular spot with walkers.
Hebburn North councillors are taking action to have these animals removed.
Coun Richard Porthouse said: “We have had loads of phone calls about this issue.
“From what I understand, tethering horses at Hebburn riverside is illegal, as the area is council land and these horse owners do not have permission to tether their animals down there.
“The horses have created quite a mess, leaving crop circle-style marks on the riverbank, which look very unsightly.
“The turf has been churned up by the horses and it looks a mess.
“We have contacted council officers about this, and will pursue legal ways of getting the animals removed.”
Coun Porthouse revealed that the issue is further complicated by out-of-date signs at the riverside, indicating that horse owners are allowed to tether their animals.
“Council officers rang the telephone number on these signs, which was disconnected, and I’m sure they are way out of date.
“My fellow ward councillors, Ian Harkus and Mary Butler, have been closely involved in tackling this issue, and hopefully we can get these horses removed very soon,” Coun Porthouse added.
Coun John McCabe, vice-chairman of Hebburn community area forum, said: “This problem is leaving some of Hebburn Riverside Park in an awful state, but we are trying to nail the culprits.
“This can occasionally become a ‘grey’ legal area, but the riverside is council land and the horses are damaging.”
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “The land in question is owned and managed by South Tyneside Council.
“The situation with tethered horses on this site is a problem, which council officers have been working with the owners to resolve.
“Unfortunately, these efforts have resulted in the council now taking legal action against the horse owner.
“Hebburn Riverside Park isn’t just a piece of derelict ground, it’s a transformed open space with a beautiful jetty, with views across the Tyne that residents and visitors enjoy.
“Tethering horses on council land is not permitted, as this action can cause danger to the public and the horses themselves, as well as damage to the land.
“The council will not tolerate this, and will continue to take necessary action against irresponsible horse owners.”