EIGHTEEN horses that were illegally tethered or left to graze loose on public land, in South Bank, were removed in the early hours of the morning (Monday, March 24).

Specialist bailiffs with expertise in removing horses carried out the enforcement action on behalf of Redcar and Cleveland Council.

Several attempts to contact the owners and get them to make appropriate arrangements for the animals had failed.

Cleveland Police supported the operation, which passed without incident.

A council spokesman said: "The council and the police take a firm line on horses that are illegally tethered or fly grazing on public land.

“We are committed to dealing with the problem and further enforcement operations are likely.

“Both the council and police receive a significant number of complaints about the actions of irresponsible horse owners, from the public.

“Horses left to roam freely pose a risk to themselves and motorists, and there are particular concerns over horses that are being left near children’s play areas.

“We would prefer owners to make suitable arrangements to ensure their animals are safe and looked after, rather than take enforcement action.”

Following the enforcement action, notices were posted stating that the horses had been impounded and instructing owners on how they could have them returned.

Owners have until Tuesday, April 8, to claim their animals but must meet the cost of livery, transport and micro-chipping as well as an inspection by a vet and any necessary treatment.