SOUTH Tyneside is being saddled with a big horse problem.
Across the borough, the issue of tethered horses on public and private land is becoming more of an issue.
Now legal moves and a possible horse-tethering fee are being considered to tackle the equine invasion.
In recent months, the Gazette has reported on several cases of horses being unlawfully tethered at scenic Hebburn Riverside Park, sparking legal action to have the animals removed.
This follows concerns about the popular green area being churned up by horses. And councillors have been told that the horse problems are getting worse.
Lead council officer Andy Whittaker told a meeting of Jarrow and Boldon community area forum: “This is now a borough-wide issue.
“We are looking at the policy on this, and considering charging a fee for tethering horses.
“It is an issue that seems to be growing at Hebburn riverside.
“We will pursue legal action, but we would rather work with the owner.
“There is limited action we can take on private land, but this is something police are aware of.”
No figure for any horse tethering fee has been settled upon, as the idea is still in its infancy.
Coun Fay Cunningham, for the Bede ward, raised an issue about horses being tethered on a field to the rear of Inverness Road, on the Scotch Estate, Jarrow.
She said: “This is something residents are complaining about, and I wondered if the council has a ruling on tethered horses.”
Fellow Bede ward member Coun Arthur Meeks warned horses can suffer, if local children kick over water containers left for the animals.
Inspector Ian King said police are aware of horses being regularly tethered at the former South Tyneside College site in Mill Lane, Hebburn, and at Hebburn Riverside Park.
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “We are currently in the early stages of consultation with other neighbouring local authorities, who may have similar issues regarding tethered horses.
“The discussions will look towards how to approach the potential policy including the assignment of a land usage fee.”
SOUTH Tyneside Council aren’t the only authority with concerns about the issue, with a spokesman for neighbouring Gateshead Council saying: “We have had persistent problems with illegally tethered horses for some time, though it appears that it is currently a growing problem.
“We have tried taking legal action against owners in the past but this has proved to be extremely complicated.
“However, we are presently discussing a range of measures which will hopefully reduce the problem.”