Enforcement action has been taken against the owner of Welcombe Equine for operating without a licence. In 2017, the Council learnt that Jane Hunt, the owner of the establishment, was operating the “Welcombe Equine” horse riding business without a licence. The issue was raised by concerned residents (who also contacted this website) and also the British Horse Society.
Following an investigation, Hunt was informed of her legal obligations in needing to apply for a Riding Establishment Licence and that until the licence was granted the business should not be operated. Although an application for a licence was made shortly afterwards, the vet’s inspection under the licencing regime found that: “the establishment fell seriously short of an acceptable standard on many points”. Hunt was advised that she shouldn’t operate the business until it was compliant and a fresh licence application had been granted.
Using the Facebook platform Hunt continued to advertise her business prompting Torridge Officers to pursue their case against Hunt’s illegal activities. Following further exchanges of correspondence and attempts to interview Hunt under caution, which Hunt failed to attend, the case came to court on 14th January.
The Court heard that Torridge officers had made a booking at Hunt’s establishment and had been contacted by further members of the public concerned that no licence could be found for the establishment. Hunt had tried to claim that she didn’t require a licence as any riding instruction was only provided to friends and family and any money paid was simply a contribution towards expenses such as fuel. Further witness statements proved that this was not the case and that Hunt had no licence to operate, which would probably have invalidated any insurance she claimed to have as well.
The Court found Hunt guilty of operating a riding establishment without holding a licence. She was disqualified from holding a licence for 2 years, fined £500 with £50 victim surcharge and £,1388 in costs bringing the total to almost £2,000. Hunt already has a previous conviction initiated by the RSPCA with support from Torridge Officers and which resulted in the removal of a thoroughbred horse.
Councillor Ken James – Lead Member for the Environment said:
“The animal licensing regime exists to ensure the welfare of animals as well as the health and safety of customers using facilities. Through her actions, Mrs Hunt has shown a blatant disregard for her responsibilities under the law, which has been confirmed in court. To their credit, the public also raised concerns about the way this business was being operated. It is good advice for people to check on our Council website to see if an establishment holds a valid and current licence so that the welfare and safety of the animals and the public are not being compromised.”
Well done to Torridge Council in bringing this action.