Landmark ASBOs handed out to Winterbourne men for leaving horses to roam free in Severnside
TWO men from Winterbourne have been handed what is believed to be the first Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) in the country for flygrazing.
Edward and Connie Mullane, of Northwood Park travellers’ site on Old Gloucester Road, have been banned from an area of Severn Beach and put under strict regulations on horse ownership after RSPCA inspectors were reduced to tears by the state and condition of horses found in Severnside.
Avon and Somerset police and South Gloucestershire Council worked with horse charity Horseworld for 18 months to collect evidence showing the scale of the problem of horses being left in distressing conditions, roaming free over rail lines and roads and on private land.
The Mullanes were handed the ASBOs at Northavon Magistrates’ Court on Monday, October 14.
Flygrazing is unauthorised grazing of horses without the permission of the landowner. Under the orders, which were granted for five years, the pair must not:
• 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
• cause or permit any horse within their possession or care or control to stray onto the public highway
• 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
• sell or transfer ownership of any horse which is not correctly identified by a valid passport
• enter Chittening Warth, Severn Road, Severn Beach (near Seabank Power Station).
Although the orders relate to locations in South Gloucestershire, magistrates extended the conditions of the ASBO to cover England and Wales.
The council and police believe it to be the first time a full ASBO has been granted to deal with flygrazing.
Cllr Claire Young, chairman of the council’s communities committee, said: "Illegal flygrazing 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.
Neighbourhood Inspector Bob Evely said: “Flygrazing 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.
“We have 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 at 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."
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