Councillors could look to rein in horses on allotments

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PARISH councillors may look again at a decision to bar additional horses from village allotments.

At the start of the December meeting, members of the Lynemouth authority insisted on sticking to the policy, but a turnout of about 30 local residents urged them to have a re-think.

Some plots are contaminated with industrial waste and so cannot be used for growing food or grazing animals, but they have been popular among horse owners who have built stables there.

They say if they are evicted they will have to tether their animals on open ground, a local tradition since villagers kept horses for seacoaling.

Clerk Brian Springthorpe said parish councillors had decided a year ago not to allow any new horse allotments. He claimed county councillors were not likely to grant planning permission for any more stables there.

However, a public meeting last month was told the reason for the ban was ‘someone using their allotment for illegal substances’.

Vice Chairman Gillian Thompson, chairing the parish council meeting at the Miners’ Welfare Institute, did not rule out evicting the horses already there.

She was asked early in the public forum if they were not going to change their minds about stopping new horse allotments.

“At this time, no,” she replied.

But after a barrage of questions, she said: “It doesn’t mean that if we get enough complaints we won’t have another meeting and look at it again. It doesn’t mean that you’ll get horse allotments, but we’ll look at it.”

Asked what was going to happen to the existing horse gardens, she replied: “We’re not sure yet.”

One resident said the parish would be left with contaminated land it could do nothing with.

Parish and county councillor Milburn Douglas said: “I think it’s a great solution – it’s amicable and everybody’s happy.”

Coun Vince Dudley said there would have to be a commercial rent.

“Sixty quid a year for a horse allotment is a joke. It might not be £60, it might not be £600,” he said.

But a member of the public said the council existed to provide services and people were not going to pay £600.

The chairman said: “That’s not the figure mentioned. We are in a deprived area where people cannot afford that kind of money.

“But if you can afford to buy a horse, you can afford something. You cannot expect somebody who grows a few vegetables to pay the same as for a horse garden.”

Coun Dudley said: “I’ve moved out of the village now so it would not be for me, I don’t think, to try to influence people. This is going to be my last input on this matter.

“But I do think it’s important to understand that just because we are looking at it, it doesn’t mean we are going to change our mind.”

The clerk said he would ask other allotment holders and villagers their opinions and report back to the February meeting.