A former military police officer has been recruited to tackle the problem of illegally tethered and stray horses in south east Northumberland.
New environmental enforcement officer Jim Gardiner has been drafted in to deal with complaints about horses grazing illegally on Northumberland County Council land in Newbiggin and north Ashington.
Mr Gardiner, an experienced former officer with the Royal Military Police, will have the task of identifying horse owners who will then be given “a reasonable time” to find suitable places for their horses to be moved to, or they face having them removed by bailiffs.
Andy Rutherford, the council’s head of highways and neighbourhood services, said: “Once the owners are identified, if they don’t remove the horses within a reasonable timescale, then we will take enforcement action and bring in bailiffs to remove the horses.
“We have received numerous complaints, including cases of children feeling threatened by the horses and of damage to property and cars.
“We are determined to tackle this problem.”
Mr Gardiner will be based at the Cowley Road council depot in Blyth.
He will also work closely with private landlords to advise on the removal of horses from their land.
However, he is only responsible for horses which are grazing on county council land and not any that may be straying onto the highway.
Northumberland County Council animal welfare officers will also continue to have responsibility for animal welfare issues.