HORSES DRAW CRITICISM FROM TOWN DRIVERS
Reported increase in carriages on road
Bethan Thomas HORSE and carriages conjure up images of 20th century aristocrats, period dramas and regal ceremonies.
But it’s not Downton Abbey or the Mall in London where you will see lots of horse-drawn vehicles these days – but Llanelli.
Residents and drivers have recently witnessed an influx of this alternative mode of transport along Llanelli’s major roads, including Trostre and Station Road.
One was even spotted going through the drivethru at McDonald’s.
The driver who took the picture, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Only in Llanelli would you see people in a horse and cart go through McDonald’s drive-thru and then park up to wait for their food.”
Another town resident, Alice Jones, from Bryn, said: “I see at least one (horse-drawn vehicle) whenever I am in Llanelli centre.
“The other day I saw three of them behind one another and one of the vehicles was being controlled by a child on his own. He only looked around 10, but they weren’t going that fast so I don’t think it’s dangerous.
“There was quite a lot of traffic stuck behind them though and drivers looked annoyed, so I think it’s inconvenient more than anything.”
The majority of horses spotted have been Gypsy cob horses pulling simple, metal carts.
“I see them very regularly on Pembrey Road outside of my house in the summer, especially late at night,” said another Llanelli resident, 57-year-old Lino Messaggiero.
“Well, I hear them and then I see them.”
The Highway Code states that “horse-drawn vehicles used on the highway should be operated and maintained in accordance with standards set out in the Transport’s Code of Practice for Horse-Drawn Vehicles”.
Standards include that they are driven smoothly and at an appropriate speed; obstacles such as roundabouts and traffic lights are carefully negotiated, and that the health and safety of the horse and drivers is maintained throughout.
Horse and carts are traditionally part of Gypsy and traveller culture.
In February this year, Carmarthenshire Council published the Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment (GTAA) calling for landowners and developers to suggest suitable locations for a permanent traveller and gypsy site in the area.
Calls for such a site have been due to an increase in travellers in the area and an ‘unmet need for gypsy and traveller pitches.’
But many residents and drivers have expressed annoyance at the traffic nuisance they claim some of the vehicles have been causing, as well as concern for the wellbeing of the animals.
“I saw them on three separate occasions the other day.
“They have been on really busy roads by Trostre roundabout and I am worried that the horses might get spooked with such busy traffic,” said Furnace resident Shauna Anderson, 21.
“One of the horses got loose the other day and was running around my estate.
“The horse was obviously distressed – it ran in front of my car. Luckily, I was only driving around 10mph so it was fine but the poor thing was running everywhere and anywhere and could have hurt itself or others.”
Another resident, Trevor Moreton, 38, from Llanelli, said: “I just feel quite bad for the horses really as they are galloping along quickly on hard tarmac which I know can be really bad for them.”
An equine expert from the RSPCA stated that “all horse owners have a responsibility to safeguard the welfare of their animals and if driving horses in traps or other vehicles. They must take into account many factors, such as the weather conditions, the behaviour of other road users, the terrain and condition of the road surface, the fitness and condition of the horse, and the weight of the load they are being asked to pull.
“As ever, we urge anyone with equine welfare concerns to contact the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999.”
Some of the horse and carriages spotted in Llanelli.