Lives of neglected animals saved by raid on “squatters” at Beckton stables

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work - Credit: Archant

Thirty horses, a pig and three dogs were removed in a planned night raid on “squatters” at stables owned by a charity working to provide disabled young people with therapeutic riding sessions.

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work - Credit: Archant

A number of the horses had been neglected and one was so weak from starvation it had to be put down by an attending vet, according to Newham Riding School and Association, which runs Stansfeld Livery Yard, Beckton, where the animals were kept illegally.

During the eviction, one man was arrested on suspicion of assault and animal cruelty and released on police bail until January. Met officers also said they found a “large quantity of cannabis plants” on the site.

A spokesman for the charity said the stables had been a commercial undertaking to help fund its activities, but closed in 2009 after operating at a loss due to non-payment of rent. The same year a notice of eviction was served on the occupiers.

“Unfortunately a number continued to remain at the site as squatters,” he added. The facilities being widely abused became a long-term continuing environmental nuisance to local residents.

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work - Credit: Archant

In a statement to the Recorder following the raid, he said: “The condition of a number of horses was a matter of immediate concern due to the obvious neglect of their welfare.

“The riding school arranged for a vet to attend on site to treat them.”

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A total of 36 horses were kept on the premises with some being claimed by frantic owners who rushed to collect them after learning of the raid, which began shortly before 2am on Wednesday last week.

Newham Council’s animal welfare team attended the eviction with bailiffs and police.

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work - Credit: Archant

The charity said it intended to sell the land to a housing association for affordable homes, with proceeds going back into the charity’s coffers.

John Gumble, who has kept horses at the stable for 28 years, was among the angry owners who picked up their animals before they were taken away.

He said: “I’ve managed to move my horse to a field 30 miles away which means I’ll hardly get to see him – I used to see him every day.”

Sam Mills, 25, from Dagenham, has been going to the stables since she was a child and kept her children’s pony there, which was removed by bailiffs.

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work

Police officers looked on as bailiffs and animal welfare officers from Newham Council got to work - Credit: Archant

“We didn’t have a clue where he was,” she said. “My kids were crying their eyes out, they didn’t think he was coming back. I know where he is now and have to move him again, but I’ve got no where to put him, this all came completely out of the blue.”

The charity and Newham Council confirmed that all of the removed animals were being kept in “suitable accommodation” and had been checked by a vet.

A spokesman for the charity said all animals claimed by their lawful owners would be returned to them without charge.

Newham Council said it “fully supported” the actions taken by the charity “to regain possession of their illegally occupied land”.

A spokeswoman said: “This news will be welcomed by local residents who had complained that the illegally occupied site attracted anti-social behaviour, environmental nuisance and animal welfare issues.

“We will continue to work with the Newham Riding Association to ensure the site is kept safe.”

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