Campaigners have been urged to pursue legal action if necessary to remove some equine squatters who could ruin more than £150,000 of work at a popular Leeds park.
Armley Moor has recently undergone a major makeover to turn it from common land into an attractive public park with new facilities. A new path has already been laid, and other improvement work has been ongoing in recent weeks.
However it has been claimed that some grazing horses , which have recently returned to the land, are ruining the work by stamping all over the path and grass, as well as intimidating visitors.
Local Labour councillor Alison Lowe is now urging the Armley Common Right Trust, which owns and maintains the land on behalf of the community, to take court action against the unnamed owners if necessary.
She told a community meeting: “The horses are back. We are going through the ‘nice’ route but it will go through the legal route if the owner doesn’t move them.”
After the meeting, she urged the Trust to consider all options.
“They need to get a letter from a solicitor and if they need to, get an injunction to get them removed,” she said. “I have had complaints from people living in [nearby flats] when they try to walk across the park. They are a bit scared. The Trust owns the land. They need to get rid of the horses because that was one of the requirements of the funding.
“However if [the Trust] physically move them they could attack them and they could hurt themselves. They need to go to court.”
She said work to the park was also in danger of being ruined, and the new path had already been affected.
A spokesman for Armley Common Right Trust declined to comment on the latest negotiations. However, the YEP reported last year that the makeover of the Moor had been put in jeopardy by the unwelcome equine guests.
The unfenced animals had been nipping at passers-by, with locals claiming that several people had been bitten and the horses were “quite intimidating” for children. “Everyone has to have access to the moor,” one local said.
The Armley Moor project was funded by £120,000 in Section 106 money – community cash set aside from private developments – and £38,000 from the Green Leeds Fund.