Horse owners are being warned they risk financial penalties or having their
animals seized if they fail to keep them properly under control.
Basildon Council has confirmed it will actively enforce the Control of
Horses Act, which gives the authority the power to remove and detain horses
found to be unlawfully occupying public land.
It is hoped that the use of the powers will dissuade horse owners from
irresponsibly using council-owned land for storage and grazing.
The Act will also protect the welfare of the animals by ensuring they are
not left unattended at an inappropriate site.
Members of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Commission confirmed the
decision to implement the Act at a meeting on Wednesday evening.
Cllr Kevin Blake, Basildon Council cabinet member for arts and leisure,
said: “Owners have a duty to ensure their animals are properly treated, do
not cause potential health and safety issues for the public using the
council’s parks and to ensure the animals have appropriate welfare
“When irresponsible owners allow their horses to unlawfully occupy land,
the council has to take on the burden of ensuring the animal is safely
“Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for this, so I am pleased the
council now has the ability to ensure the costs of such an exercise are
passed on to the owner.”
Under the terms of the Act, owners are liable to pay any costs due to
damage done by the horse while unlawfully occupying the land, as well as
expenses incurred by the council in detaining the animal.
If an owner fails to meet their financial obligations within 96 hours of
detention, ownership of the horse passes to the council, which can then
arrange for the animal to either be sold, rehomed or humanely disposed of.
In 2014, prior to the introduction of the Act, an operation to remove and
detain horses unlawfully on land at Wat Tyler Country Park cost Basildon
Cllr Blake added: “Our message to owners is clear: Face up to your
responsibilities or you risk the prospect of losing your animals.”