MP Gareth Johnson welcomes a new law to control escaped horses

The Control of Horses Bill, which has been passed in the House of Lords, will receive Royal Assent this week and give greater powers to councils to take action over horses that escape.

Dartford MP, Gareth Johnson, welcomed the new law, which will help in areas of Dartford where escaped horses have been problematic recently.

Kent Police has informed Mr Johnson there were nearly 400 calls regarding horse problems in just two months.

The problem has been particularly bad in Stone. A recent operation led to the seizure of six horses for illegally fly-grazing.

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said: “Kent police and the council have been working extremely hard on this issue and have seized numerous horses that have escaped. The problem has always been that the horses had to be returned to their owners whatever damage or problems they had caused. Now that will change.”

This new law will mean councils have more powers to deal with the problem. The owners of escaped horses will have to pay for any costs incurred by catching the escaped horse as well as for any damage they have caused before their horses are returned to them.

“We have witnessed a large increase in the number of horses that have escaped from fields around Dartford lately. It causes danger to motorists when they wander onto busy roads and it frightens the horses themselves. I have had instances of local residents watching powerless as horses wander into their gardens and cause huge amounts of damage.

This change in the law should be a significant improvement from the current situation where the council or police seize escaped horses and feed and water them and give them veterinary help, but when the owners turn up they simply take the horses back. Now the owners have to pay for this cost and any damage caused before they can have them back.”

This law will come into effect at the end of May and gives councils a number of powers, including:

  • It can now seize a horse that is in a public area without lawful authority.
  • Gives power for land owners or tenants to seize horses on their land provided they give it to the police within 24 hours.
  • Any owner of the horse can claim the horse back within 96 hours but crucially has to pay all the costs before doing so, including the cost of damage to land.
  • If they don’t pay the costs or don’t claim it, ownership of the horse transfers to the person seizing it.