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Stray horses may be seized

Sandwell | News | Published:

Stray and illegally tethered horses in Sandwell could be seized by the council for the first time in nine years after more than 50 were identified in Tipton.

Stray and illegally tethered horses in Sandwell could be seized by the council for the first time in nine years after more than 50 were identified in Tipton.

The authority last rounded up horses from the streets in 2002 and it is feared a new blitz could cost the already cash-strapped authority £300,000 a year.

Officers issued 32 notices over the weekend, warning owners they had 24 hours to move the horses or they would be impounded.

However, council bosses said horse owners are getting around the issue by crossing borough boundaries into Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton. Councillors and officers from Sandwell will meet with Wolverhampton City Council to discuss the issue on Friday.

Sandwell's neighbourhoods councillor Derek Rowley said: "The last time we used bailiffs to remove horses from the streets of Tipton it cost us in the region of £25,000 a month. That is £300,000 a year of taxpayers' money.

"This pays for the horses to be checked by a vet, given any treatment they need, transported to stables and cared for, as well as the bailiffs' costs.

"If they are not claimed then they are sold off, but this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the bills.

"The main issue we have is that many of the horses are kept on the Wednesbury Oak estate and owners literally have to move them just a few feet and they are over the border in Wolverhampton. When they are moved on from there they move back to Tipton and the whole process starts again."

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Councillor Rowley said the 2002 crackdown was effective, but the problem had "crept back" over the years.

There is a long tradition of horse ownership in Tipton with owners including old scrap metal merchants' families, canal boatmen and travelling families.

Dudley Council has been plagued by the same problem for the last two decades and last month the authority received 400 calls about stray horses alone.

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