Up to 100 angry demonstrators turned up with horses to protest against Walsall Council after two animals were killed.
Crowds gathered outside Walsall council offices in the town centre armed with a placard and with 10 horses yesterday to show their anger following a long-running dispute between a family and the authority.
Officers swooped on playing fields in Warner Road, Coalpool, at the rear of Mack Hallf’s property and rounded up eight horses and a donkey and took them to a sanctuary after issuing him with a letter giving him instructions to vacate the land. Two of the horses had to be put down last month.
But father-of-three Mr Hallf, 35, said he intends to fight the council to get his horses back and will stage protests until he receives compensation and an apology.
“I have lived here for 32 years and we have always had horses on the playing fields. Kids from the local area love to come and visit them.
“What the council has done is absolutely shocking and I intend to fight it every step of the way. I had only had the horses for two days before they were shot.
“The council said they were wild and running down the street but they weren’t, they were happy just being in the field.
“I intend to stage up to three protests a week if I have to so that justice is done. I have already set up a petition with hundreds of signatures and many more to come.
“All I want is my horses back and an apology and compensation. The stables that I had bought were completely smashed. They cost £2,500 to build.”
Walsall Council and Walsall Police previously said the two ‘untamed’ horses were posing a ‘significant threat’ to public safety and were ‘humanely put down on the advice of an animal husbandry company’.
A statement released on behalf of Walsall Council said: “A peaceful protest took place outside the Civic Centre in relation to an operation which took place at Whateley Road playing fields on Thursday, October 17, to reclaim public land which was being illegally occupied.
“The protest lasted for around an hour, after which time it disbanded.
“Protestors requested to speak to a member of staff and it was agreed they could meet with a council representative on a date to be arranged.
“During the protest the civic centre and council house remained open to the public.”
The council and police have insisted they were acting on issues including the illegal occupation of public land and ‘numerous other activities including fly-tipping and the keeping of goats and other livestock’.
A previous statement released on behalf of Walsall Council and Walsall Police said: “The council with the support of the police and other agencies has been seeking to address a number of issues at Whateley Road playing fields.”
“These include the illegal occupation of public land and numerous other activities including flytipping and the keeping of goats and other livestock.
“Considerable effort has been made to engage with the individual concerned and to get them to take steps to resolve the issue.
“The council, supported by the police, on Thursday started action to return the land back to public use and these objectives were achieved.
“In the late morning two untamed horses went onto a public highway. It appears that they were released deliberately.
“This created a real and significant threat to public safety and required the horses to be humanely put down on the advice of an animal husbandry company.
“As part of the operation eight horses and a donkey were rescued and taken to a horse sanctuary.
“Work will now continue to finish clearing the land and open it up fully to the community.”