Leeds & West Yorkshire

Stray horses cost Bradford Council £214,755 over three years

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Media captionOf 146 stray horses seized since 2011, only three have been claimed by their owners

Of 146 stray horses seized in Bradford since 2011, only three have been claimed by their owners, a West Yorkshire council has said.

Bradford Council said illegally tethered and roaming horses have cost taxpayers £214,755.

The council said a specialist contractor was employed to impound the horses.

Owners can reclaim their animal only if they have proof of ownership and pay a release fee, the council said.

If no-one comes forward, the horses are looked after for two weeks and then sold, re-homed or - in rare cases - put down, the council said.

The amount owners have to pay to get their horses back changes according to how much it costs to impound the animals, the authority revealed.

Councillor Andrew Thornton said many of the owners were "irresponsible".

"This is not something the council wants to pay for but we have to protect the public from the danger and nuisance being caused by these owners," he said.

"Two children were seriously injured [by horses] a couple of years ago and we have to make sure that doesn't happen again."

The council said West Yorkshire Police gave it "significant support" every time a horse was impounded.

Debbie Davies, Conservative councillor for Baildon, said Bradford Council should consider whether criminal prosecutions were possible.

Bradford Council said despite the increase in stray horses over the past three years, costs had actually decreased following a new contractor employed to impound the horses since 2012.

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