Worry about horses tethered near main roads

NewsHorse Welfare NewsWednesday 04 April 2012
Fears have been sparked about the City of York Council’s legal responsibilities for horses which are tethered on verges. The debate has begun after an accident occurred in which a stray horse was killed by a car. 

The police have confirmed that a car was being driven along Malton Road in York when it struck a horse, which appeared belong to a traveller. The animal was tethered to a verge, however it had broken loose and made its way onto the road where it was struck. 

A spokesman for the police told the York Press that the horse had died and that the car was damaged, but luckily the driver was uninjured. They have also stated that the owner of the horse had not been traced. 

A debate has now begun as to whether the local authorities should be liable for any accidents caused by stray horses and whether they should take action to avoid this from happening again. 

Mark Warters, an Independent City of York Councillor, has now written to the council to raise concerns that horses tethered on council-owned verges may cause a major accident and he also raised questions about the authority’s legal liabilities if this happened.

He did say that the council does not condone unauthorised grazing, but he also said that “given the unwillingness and apparent inability to take action on this matter, it is fair to conclude that it is content with the situation”.

He went on to say: “Therefore, given this grazing is occurring on council land, what is the legal position? The horses have no legal ownership details, are not passported and I would suggest that, because they are on council land with no action being taken to remove them, by default they are to be considered for legal and insurance purposes the responsibility of the council.”

Mr Warters went on to state that if no action is taken, a major accident could take place. 

Alistair Briggs, a traffic network engineer has gone on to say that the council regularly worked with the owners of horses tethered at the side of the road to try to minimise the travelling public’s concerns.

He spoke to the York Press saying: “The time taken for tethered horses to be relocated can vary depending on circumstances and drivers are advised to slow whenever they are passing horses that are tethered or being ridden.”

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