STRATFORD District Council knew about two dead ponies dumped near the River Stour for five days before they removed them today [Thursday], the Chief Executive has admitted.
Shocked residents called both the police and the council at the weekend when they came across the large carcasses by the old bridge in Halford, near Shipston-on-Stour.
However, the dead animals were left by the side of the road from Saturday to Thursday because it was the holiday period, and the site was a potential crime scene.
Chief Executive Paul Lankester admitted today that the council had been told about the ponies on Saturday evening. He arranged for someone to cover them up, but they were not removed.
Explaining his decision, Mr Lankester said: “Given there was no immediate health hazard present, the practicalities involved in arranging their removal during the holiday period, the recent inclement weather, and to allow other relevant authorities to pursue any appropriate investigations, it was arranged for the horses to be temporarily covered on site.”
He said there was no conerns about the carcasses rapidly decomposing. "If it is the middle of July then you do something different," he said.
He confirmed that local contractors removed the two ponies today [Thursday].
Jane Weldon and husband Jim spotted the carcasses at the weekend and reported them to the police.
“Two dead animals lying in the road, I think it’s shocking,” said Jane. “It’s a popular place and people walk there with their kids.”
She was not impressed with the council’s lack of action.
“Shame on those that mistreated them so and shame on the authorities for not dealing with what is, at the very least, an environmental risk in a more timely fashion,” she said.
Although Mr Lankester said there was no immediate health hazard, Jane was worried about the carcasses being so near to the River Stour, particularly with the fluctuating water levels.
The couple live in Pillerton Priors but keep horses in Newbold-on-Stour, which is how they came across the carcasses.
“We’re back and forth all the time, and that’s the route we take,” said Jane.
Husband Jim reckons the two young brown-and-white colts are only a year old.
Who they belong to and the how they died is currently unknown but the council have now launched an investigation.
Mr Lankester said: "The council has been in contact with the agencies who are investigating the incident to ascertain if any crime has been committed."
He added: "If there is sufficient evident and it is in the public interest to undertake a prosecution that the council will actively consider that.
"The council is shocked and saddened by this incident.”
Stratford District Council reopened their offices today (Thursday) after a Christmas break.
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