RESIDENTS and councillors were “horrified” after spotting horses trapped behind a padlocked gate, one with its leg wrapped in barbed wire.
The alarm was raised after up to six horses have been illegally tethered on council land in Jarrow, where one of the animals became entangled in the wire.
Shocked Bede ward councillors on an estate walkabout in Low Simonside alerted council officers yesterday.
Coun Arthur Meeks said: “I was horrified when I saw one of the poor animals with the wire wrapped around its tail and leg.
“It was very distressing and I believe a couple of local ladies were reduced to tears.
“We understand the horses have been tethered there illegally since before Christmas. This is part of a bigger problem across South Tyneside with illegally-tethered animals, and we aim to stamp it out.”
South Tyneside Council also faces a big bill to reinstate the land inside the estate, which has been churned up into a muddy mess by several horses and a pony.
Coun Meeks added: “It is going to cost a lot of money to put that space right. It’s used by children in the summer – with the blessing of local residents – but it will take us months to put the land back as it was.”
Although illegally padlocked, a council officer was able to access the site yesterday and unwrap the barbed wire from the horse, which it had apparently been dragging around for several days.
Resident Alan Bartlett, 66, whose home in Stanhope Road, Jarrow, overlooks the site, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting and a disgrace that a horse should be left like that.
“The horses have been tethered there for about three weeks and the place locked up, even though it’s council land.”
Fellow resident Alan Forrester, 70, who has lived in Stanhope Road for more than 30 years, said: “The horse had barbed wire wrapped around it for a few days. It’s awful to see animals like that.
“Plus, the whole area has been churned up by the horses. It will take ages to repair the damage to the grass.
“I’ve seen someone bring hay to the horses, but I was concerned about the animals and gave them some water.”
RSPCA officials were informed about the site and notices have been served on the horses’ owner to remove the animals.
South Tyneside has faced increasing problems of illegally-tethered horses in recent years.
Last summer, after several animals were unlawfully tethered at scenic Hebburn Riverside Park, the borough council said horse owners who break the law could be hit with a charge.
Councillors are considering introducing a charging fee on horses, to tackle the illegal equine invasion on green spaces.
The borough council has been in consultation with neighbouring local authorities, who have suffered similar problems with illegally-tethered horses.
‘We will not tolerate this’ - council
A SOUTH Tyneside Council spokesman, said: “We can confirm that the horses in question are being illegally tethered on council property and a number of departments are working collectively to swiftly resolve the situation.
“The council has served a notice to the animals’ owner asking them to remove the horses from the site.
“Despite assurances that they would be removed at the start of this week, they remain on the land.
“The council is concerned both at the unauthorised occupation of the land, and the environment in which the animals are being left. The RSPCA have also attended the site with a view to assessing the condition of the animals.
“Should the owner not comply with our requests, there may be no other option but to bring in the services of an enforcement company to take control of the animals.
“Tethering horses on council land is not permitted, as this action can cause danger to the public and can adversely affect the welfare of the horses themselves, as well as cause damage to the land.
“The council will not tolerate this, and will continue to take necessary action against irresponsible horse owners.”