A HORSE bailiff will today begin tackling the problem of animals tethered illegally on roadside verges in the York area.

But there are signs that the appointment may already have had an impact before the official even starts work, with horses disappearing recently from verges where they are frequently to be seen.

The bailiff has been appointed by City of York Council, following growing concerns about a number of accidents caused by horses straying on to roads such as the A166 York to Stamford Bridge road.

Osbaldwick Independent councillor Mark Warters, who has said he fears a motorist will die in a collision with a horse, said he had attended a recent meeting between the bailiff and the National Farmers’ Union at which the bailiff said there would be a “zero-tolerance” policy towards tethered horses.

He said the bailiff said notices would be going up around York, warning horse owners they had 14 days to remove their animals from land where they should not be.

Landowners could also use the bailiff to get horses removed from private land, and would have a contact number they could ring, but they would have to pay a fee.

Coun Warters added that he had heard from good sources that a number of tethered horses had disappeared recently from verges, and been relocated to Selby and Bridlington.

He felt this might benefit York but would merely displace the problem.

Steve Waddington, the council’s assistant director of housing and community safety, claimed the contractor had not said the authority would pursue a “zero tolerance” policy.

“They are Coun Warters’ words,” he said. “We have explained that horses will be removed where they are presenting a danger to the public and to themselves.”

He confirmed landowners could commission the contractor directly if they wished to remove horses grazing without permission on their land.

He said at the time of a recent inspection no tethered horses were in evidence.

“However, we have no knowledge of where horses may have been moved to and we will work with other local authorities, landowners and anyone affected by illegal grazing or tethered.”