Tragedy warning over travellers’ horses

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A FATAL road accident is likely to occur if action is not taken to prevent travellers’ horses breaking free of their roadside tethering and careering across busy trunk roads on the outskirts of a Yorkshire city, an MP is warning.

Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, is calling for an urgent Parliamentary debate into the powers and responsibilities of local councils after a spate of incidents on the outskirts of York involving travellers’ horses.

The animals are being left tied at the side of busy roads such as the A166 and A1079, but have repeatedly broken free, causing a spate of accidents and near-misses.

“This is very serious,” Mr Sturdy said. “Horses have been killed, although thankfully no people have been injured. There have been other near misses as well, and I’m getting very concerned about it.”

The MP has raised the issue in Parliament and wants York Council to take swifter action to prevent travellers tying their horses along busy roads.

“Although the council and the police are very aware of it, there seems to be inaction,” he said.

“I’m very worried something serious is going to happen.

“If a horse is tethered by the highway, the council should be removing them. We have got to take action – heaven forbid if a horse got loose and someone was killed.”

The difficulties for the council are considerable, however.

Locating a horse’s owner can be difficult, while the police generally only become involved if the animal has actually broken free.

Steve Waddington, the council’s assistant director of public protection, said: “We are looking into what appropriate course of action we can take, both in the short and long term, to develop a solution to this problem.

“When we become aware of horses tethered at the roadside, we contact the owners – if we are able to do so – to get them to move the horse on.

“If the animal is clearly a danger to the highway, we work with the police and RSPCA to remove the danger as quickly as possible.”