After an 18-month battle, several horses that had continually escaped from two different sites in Pulborough, have been removed by bailiffs.
Travellers had initially tethered horses, which they said they were ‘looking after’, in an insecure field adjacent to the river Arun, in front of flats at Arun Prospect.
On numerous occasions they broke free from their tethers and escaped from the field on to the busy A29.
These incidents occurred both in the daytime and also in the middle of the night. Police were called out on several occasions and residents feared there would be a serious accident with both people and horses injured. They also raised the question of the escalating cost in police time, with officers called out frequently.
Gill Harris, who lived at Arun Prospect, raised the issue with MP Nick Herbert at a public meeting in April, where a police officer said it was a civil matter of trespass and police could not take action.
The travellers had told police they did not own the horses and were merely ‘looking after’ them. In addition, the field was owned by someone who did not live in the area.
After the field flooded during heavy rains this spring, the horses were moved on to Glebe Field, owned by Chichester Diocese, near to the church, where for most of the time they were not tethered.
The field had a footpath running through it, frequently used by the public to get from Old Rectory Lane to Lower Street.
“One old lady was knocked down and bitten, then my mother was bitten by one, and finally another lady was also knocked down by a horse. Police again said it was a civil matter,” said Mrs Harris.
Father Paul Welch of St Mary’s Church, Puborough, confirmed in the parish magazine this month: “Some travellers brought their horses on to the East Glebe Field without permission. I received complaints about lack of proper provision of water and food for the horses. The horses, becoming untethered, have hurt several people. One elderly lady had to be treated by paramedics on the field and later at home. She is still attending Pulborough Medical Centre and receiving dressings on both ankles.”
Mrs Harris said: “Until some action could be taken, the Diocese erected fencing at its own cost and the horses were put in the fenced area while it took legal action. A notice was put in the field giving ‘owners’ of the horses a time limit in which they had to move them from the land.
“Bailiffs removed the horses and put up a notice saying owners could claim them. After they had not been claimed within seven days, they were seen by a vet and re-homed with a welfare organisation.”
The GRC Group, bailiffs specialists in removing unauthorised occupiers from land without the expense of having to go through a lengthy court system, recently recovered three coloured cobs and a shetland pony from land belonging to the Diocese of Chichester, in Rectory lane, Pulborough.
Mrs Harris said: “For the first time in 18 months, the horses have been wormed, fed, watered and loved. Many residents in Pulborough looked out for these horses during that time and raised concerns about their welfare.
Said Mrs Harris: “We reported time and time again to the RSPCA but they were unable to take action. Perhaps God does move in mysterious ways and that led to travellers moving them on to Chichester Diocese land.”