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ASBOs secured for fly grazing offences

This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.

Published: 16/10/2013

The two separate yet identical orders were served on Edward and Connie Mullane, of Northwood Park, Winterbourne during a hearing at Yate Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Monday 14 October).

Fly grazing is unauthorised grazing of horses without the permission of the landowner. Sometimes horses are abandoned or break free of their tether, causing distress to animals, danger to residents and road users and unnecessary costs to the council and other landowners.

We were aware that this kind of activity, which is a national problem, was taking place mainly in Severnside, South Gloucestershire. In order to bring about a successful prosecution, overwhelming evidence was collated from a wide range of agencies including the police; Horseworld charity; the RSPCA and Network Rail which demonstrates the extent of the issue and the impact fly grazing has on our communities.

Although the Anti Social Behaviour Order secured relates to locations in South Gloucestershire, magistrates extended the conditions of the ASBO to cover England and Wales. This is believed to be the first time a full ASBO has been granted to deal with fly grazing.

Under the orders, which were granted for five years, the Mullanes are not permitted to:

1. Keep or be in possession or control of any horse that is diseased, injured or malnourished or otherwise left unfit through neglect or intentional action;

2. Cause or permit any horse within their possession or care or control to stray onto the public highway;

3. Cause or permit any horse within their possession or care or control to enter or remain on land without the prior agreement of the landowner;

4. Sell or transfer ownership of any horse which is not correctly identified by a valid passport;

5. Enter area shown on map.

Cllr Claire Young, Chair of Communities Committee, said: “Illegal fly grazing causes distress to animals, danger to residents and road users, and unnecessary costs to the taxpayer. We have worked closely with the police and other agencies to bring this case to court and we are pleased with the outcome which clearly shows that this type of dangerous and anti-social activity will not be tolerated in South Gloucestershire.

Philippa Isbell, ASB and Community Safety Team Leader, added: “This is an excellent result for the residents of South Gloucestershire; and a positive example of the council working in partnership with other agencies and our communities to find a solution to deal with the problem of illegal fly grazing.

“We will continue to work with the police to monitor cases of fly grazing in the district and will not hesitate to bring further prosecutions if necessary.”

Neighbourhood Inspector Bob Evely of Avon and Somerset Police said: “Fly grazing is not a victimless problem. As well as the animal welfare issue, there are the public safety risks of horses straying onto the highway or railway, damage to landlords’ fences and property, and the pressure it places on the resources of the police, fire and rescue service and animal welfare charities. In the 18 months prior to July 2013 the police alone received more than 2,000 calls relating to fly grazing.

“Police and charities like Horse World and the RSPCA collected evidence over 18 months and worked very closely with South Gloucestershire Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team to support this application.

“We have also been talking to the Mullanes themselves to make clear the issues caused by their behaviour and have already started to see an improvement in the situation, reflected in that they did not contest this order. I hope this will give the community the reassurance that we will not tolerate this sort of activity.”

The Chief Inspector of the RSPCA and witness John Atkinson stated that his inspectors were reduced to tears due to the state and condition of the horses.

Jerry Watkins, Director of Equine Welfare, Horseworld, said: “The cost of staff time, animal transportation, livery, veterinary nursing, fees and so on that has been expended over the years in the hope of reducing suffering or the risk of suffering tallies to several thousands of pounds.”

Breaching an Anti Social Behaviour Order is a criminal offence which could result in a fine or custodial sentence of up to five years.

Residents who witness fly grazing are urged to report all incidents to the Police on 101 or dial 999 in an emergency.

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