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AN action plan to deal with the problem of straying sheep across Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council has been backed by senior councillors.

At their meeting on Wednesday, July 21, the council’s Executive Committee received a report on the plan, by head of community services, Clive Rogers.

Mr Rogers said: “The report sets out an action plan which will look to reduce and tackle this ongoing issue.”

“Straying animals have been a recurring issue in the county borough for many years, however instances and reports have risen over recent months.”

At a meeting of the Community Services scrutiny committee on Monday, July 19, councillors had discussed re-instating the Animal Impounding Service that dealt with stray animals.

This had ended in 2014/15 due to “budget savings.”

The report said that it was to be restored now, it would cost in the region of £100,000 per year.

Mr Rogers, said: “This report is not recommending that the service is reintroduced.”

“One of the major elements has been damage to fences by walkers and off-road bikers.

“The police have now started dealing with off road bikers in recent weeks and that will continue.”

“The key thing is engagement.”

He explained that meetings with farmers, people who have animals grazing on common land and other landowners, had stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic

“Those meetings will start up again and they are key to dealing with this problem.” said Mr Rogers.

Executive member for Environment, Cllr Joanna Wilkins said: “It’s very much a starting point to try and address some of the underlying issues that cause people to report (straying animals) on a regular basis.”

Cllr Wilkins said that she was “keen” to get formal meetings back up and running.

Cllr Wilkins added: “The success in any action plan will be in the monitoring of it and I’m pleased to hear that it will go back through the reporting process so that we can see how it’s going.”

Council leader, Cllr Nigel Daniels hoped the meetings “could be picked up at pace” as covid restrictions relax.

Between February 1 and May 7, Blaenau Gwent received 2,189 calls to deal with straying animals.

78 per cent of these were from Ebbw Vale with an area near Tesco identified as a hot spot.
12 per cent of the calls came from Tredegar.
10 per cent from Blaina/Abertillery with the Roseheyworth Industrial Estate also identified as a problem area.
The 18-point Action Plan includes:

Establishing a full register of land and boundary fenceline ownership.
Identify “Hot Spots.”
Extending the current use of covert / overt cameras to deal with hotspot areas.
Develop a Good Practice Guide for Farmers and Commoners.

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