Says Naomi Smith
It is all too possible to round a corner on horseback and come upon a group of cattle with no prior warning -this WILL result in a horse being badly spooked at best, bolting at worst -it is only a matter of time ........... read more
HORSES SEIZED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT BY BAILIFFS ACTING FOR BRIGHTON AND HOVE COUNCIL
"Who comes creeping in like a thief at 1am if their legal business is legitimate??!!" - Illawarra Flame
A few times over the past three years the Stanmore Horses stables have been visited by the RSPCA following anonymous complaints.
They have never found any substantial issues, once or twice they pointed out minor problems, these were immediately treated with veterinary assistance if needed.
The Animals Act only provides for removal of horses with the 'occupier's consent', which they did not have,
PREMISES AND STABLES BARRICADED
Says Danny Cross, Stanmore Horses
Horses are my passion, my life. I am a BHS PI & have kept horses for over 25 years.
I took the tenancy from Brighton & Hove City Council at Long Barn Stables on 8th July 2013 to provide a home for my horses. A few of the horses I have owned for 15 to 20 years, many of the others have been rescued or bought out of cruel conditions for nominal amounts and some of the others were born to my mares (as they were often rescued while in foal).
I am neither a business nor a charity & everything has been self-funded, or from donations or taking part in community events at Stanmer Park, such as providing children's pony rides. I have 38 horses in total ranging from full size horses to mini-shetlands. A few of these have long term health issues, but these have been cared and live a happy life.
A letter was received from Brighton Council dated 5th June 2015 requiring possession of the premises 'Forthwith'. Since that time I have been looking for alternative premises, but due partly to the number of horses this has not proved possible. Discussions following this were supposed to lead to a new lease being granted, but this never happened. The number of horses being kept there was also questioned, but following clarification from the BHS (the horses are fed and hayed & do not live off the grazing), it was agreed that the number be capped at 40, this has never been exceeded.
A few times over the past three years I have been visited by the RSPCA following anonymous complaints. They have never found any substantial issues, once or twice they pointed out minor problems, these were immediately treated with veterinary assistance if needed. Considering the number of horses, I look after, I think this is quite good. Despite some of the rumours that seem to be coming from the council, I know my horses are all well looked after, in Frances Steer of Savills (the Council's agents) has told me all the horses were checked by a vet after being seized and no welfare issues or new problems were found.
Then with no further communication, on 21st June 2016, overnight notices appeared all over the stables and associated fields from GRC Bailiffs, a trading name of GRC (Legal Services) Ltd. One of these notices stated that under The Animal Act 1971 as amended by The Control of Horses Act 2015 any horses not removed by 9.00 am 12th July 2016 would be detained on behalf of the 'landowner/occupier'. Similarly another notice was placed stating that under The (interference with goods) Act 1977, S. 12(3) at the same time all goods at the premises would be removed to a secure pound.
Brighton & Hove City Council, Smiths Gore (now incorporated into Savills) & GRC Bailiffs were questioned about the legality of this. Firstly that The Animals Act only provides for removal of horses with the 'occupier's consent', which they did not have, also there was to power to enter to do this. The Police were consulted and said they would only support such actions if they were backed by a court order. This was not the case and so I was told to lock the gates, refuse entry & if necessary to call the Police.
Shortly before 12th July, I received an email from Smiths Gore stating that they would allow a further 6 weeks for me to get off & that the matter was now being handled by Irwinmitchell Solicitors.
A letter was received from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors dated 26th July 2016 headed Notice of Termination. It stated they acted for the council & I remain the tenant. It said it was to determine that on 7th September 2016, being the next date over a month from when the rent would fall due. Adding that after that the Council would take steps to obtain immediate possession. Nobody arrived at the premises at this time.
On 9th September 2016 the same notices appeared from GRC bailiffs, under the same Acts, that horses & goods would be removed if on the premises after 5pm 13th September 2016. The same query as before was sent to all parties including Irwin Mitchell Solicitors. Also pointing out that there letter was factually incorrect, as the tenancy had previously been terminated.
Irwin Mitchell replied that after 5pm on 13th September, the Council would be the occupier, irrespective of whether I was still there and so would seize all horses, goods and take vacant possession. Again they were questioned as to the legality of this and replied along the lines of that is what we are going to do.
I was at the premises at 5 pm 13th September to meet any bailiffs and follow the police advice, but nobody arrived.
During this period, I would make regular checks at random times during the nights to ensure the safety of my horses. Unfortunately, on the weekend of 17thSeptember my partner had to go into hospital for an operation for prostate cancer & so I could not check on the horses.
On Monday 19th September I was awoken to be told all of my 38 horses had been taken Apparently this was done from 1 am, in the middle of the night, with a Police Officer present. As one of the horses is nearly blind and several do not trust people they do not know, I can only assume they were drugged in some way to help catch them & put head collars on them.
The only contact I had was a voicemail message from Guy Streeter (Savills) saying they had taken my horses, I have had no other contact from them or anyone else. The premises have now had concrete bollards put up to bar entry and being guarded by security. The first communication I received from GRC Bailiffs was an email sent to my partner on Wednesday 21st September saying how to 'claim' my horses back. I find this both strange and annoying as both the council and smithsgore/savills have my email and postal address, which they happily use when it suits them.
On advice from solicitors I have submitted claims for the horses which I have paperwork for (about 15). Unfortunately for the rest I concentrated on looking after them rather than worrying about paperwork.
There have been lots of nasty statements and rumours, such as two of the horses have already been shot; it will cost £5,000 per horse to get back; the horses were partly taken as a welfare issue; the council will not return any horses to me as they consider I am not fit to keep them; they will not be sold but rehomed with charitable institutions.
GRC bailiffs, who have not told me where my horses are, have acknowledged my claims & say they are 'validating' them.
Some of these horses need regular medication & some have trust issues due to previous abuse, but they were taken anyway & I do not know where they are or how to get them back.
I would really appreciate any help I can get, to save these horses.
For your information below is a copy of an email from GRC Bailiffs:
Further to your email below, we confirm that acting on instructions from Brighton and Hove City Council we removed horses from land in Stanmer Park, Brighton on the morning of the 19th September 2016. Seizure was made under the Animals Act 1971 as amended by the Control of Horses Act 2015.
Please note that we will not conduct any negotiations on the telephone. All enquiries must be dealt with by way of email.
We will not return any telephone calls or respond to telephone messages. All further emails will only be responded to between 9.00 AM and 5.00 PM Monday-Friday.
If you wish to make a claim for the horses then you must do so as soon as possible and pay all costs in full. The law gives 96 hrs (4 working days) for someone to make a claim and pay costs.
Seizure was made before 8.00 AM on Monday 19th September 2016 and the 96 hour time limit expires at 8.00 AM on Friday 23rd September 2016.
FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT THE OWNER MUST MAKE A CLAIM, PROVE THEIR IDENTITY, PROVE OWNERSHIP OF ANY HORSE SEIZED AND PAY ALL COSTS BY 8.00 AM ON FRIDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2016.
At 8.00 AM on Friday 23rd September 2016 ownership of the horses will be transferred to Brighton and Hove City Council as allowed under the Act.
If you wish to proceed with a claim for the horses seized then in the first instance you will need to prove ownership. If you do have a passport for any of the horses then please supply a copy.
This can be emailed to us and we can cross check any details with the issuing office. The passport must be in the name of the person claiming the horse.
It is an offence to keep a horse that is not microchipped and passported in accordance with the law. There is a maximum fine for passport offences of £5,000.00 per offence.
If the horses are not legally passported you will need to provide proof of ownership for any horse that you are claiming.
In the absence of passports or microchips then you will have to provide evidence of ownership.
To do so you will need to provide the following:
1. A full Statutory Declaration drawn up by a solicitor in which you must provide the following information.
i) Your full name and address
ii) A full description of each horse, age, size, sex, colour and markings etc.
iii) An explanation of how each horse came into your possession.
2. Additional supporting evidence such as:
i) Photographs of the horses claimed
ii) Statement or letter from a Vet or a farrier confirming they have treated these horses on your behalf with a description of the horse treated.
iii) A bill of sale for any horse purchased
IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE
Before any horse can be returned you will need to provide proof of your own identity. This will need to be done by providing:
1. A copy of your photo identification such as a driving licence or passport certified by a solicitor as a true copy of the original. This is required so that we can ascertain that you are who you claim to be.
2. Proof of your address such as provision of a certified copy of a utility bill.
Once you have proven both your own identity and proof of ownership of any horses claimed then you will be given a final figure for the costs which must then be paid in full, cleared funds into our client account, details of which you will be provided.
If the horses are not legally passported and microchipped then you will also have to pay for the costs of doing this before any horse can be returned.
You will also be required to cover any additional costs for transportation of the horses to a location suitable for you to collect them.
Once you have provided the required proof of ownership and paid costs we will make arrangements for the horses to be transported to a suitable location for you to collect.
We reserve the right to pass on any information regarding passport offences to the appropriate authority. GRC Bailiffs
"Danny's love and dedication goes far beyond anything I have ever seen or witnessed before and I doubt I will ever again , horses are his heartbeat and the air he breathes , he has only wanted the best for his horses . Danny is loved by us all at the yard and the villagers of Stanmer and most importantly by his horses"
"I find it strange that the police became involved with civil proceedings, may I inquire into whether or not PC Richard Hall was given directions by a senior police officer and what statement was given in support to enlist police attendance."
Tony Barnett writes to Chief Constable Bernie O'Reilly
"I wish to bring to your attention a most despicable low lowlife act by one of your colleagues ... "
Tony Barnett writes to the Chief Executive of Brighton and Hove Council, Geoff Raw
Says Linda Wright
We moved to a Shropshire location a year ago having surveyed the local OS map and noted the significant number of bridleways around the property. Sadly the map appears a total fiction. Scarce any of the bridleways are usable ........... read more