CALLS have been made by councillors to re-introduce a service catching stray animals in Blaenau Gwent County Borough.
At a meeting of the council’s Community Services Scrutiny Committee on Monday, July 19, councillors discussed a report highlighting the extent of the problem.
The report explained that the council’s Animal Impounding Service ended in 2014/15 due to “budget savings.”
If this service were to be restored now, it would cost in the region of £100,000 per year.
This would pay for two staff members, vehicles and equipment, but not premises to store the animals.
Speaking in the meeting, Cllr Lisa Winnett asked how much tacking the issue is already costing the council.
“We need to know,” she said. “If it is over £100,000 to do this work, it would be cheaper to bring the impounding service back.
“We’ve got land we could use.”
Neighbourhood services manager Mathew Stent said: “The report does not suggest restoring the impounding service.
“We can find out what those costs are and bring them into the action plan.”
Cllr Clive Meredith pointed out that nearby authorities of Monmouthshire, Caerphilly, Powys and Torfaen are having similar stray animal problems.
Cllr Meredith said: “It looks as though whatever is in place at the moment isn’t working across South East Wales.
“I’m wondering whether we need a policy to cover South East Wales and monies to go with it?”
Cllr John Morgan said that in the past there had been regular meetings between the authority, farmers, police, and people who graze their animals on common land.
It had been expected that meetings between farmers and councillors in local areas for the Ebbw, Sirhowy and Abertillery valleys would be held, but such meetings never took place.
Mr Stent said: “The last meeting had been in 2018. It was the intention to have localised meetings with commoners, farmers and members to discuss issues in their locality, the idea was to find the hotpots in Blaenau Gwent in order to deal with them.
“Covid came and that’s why it hasn’t taken place, it’s part of the action plan we’re taking forward from now.
“This report brings us back into motion to deal with sheep across the county borough as it is a major issue.”
The committee’s comments will feed into an action plan to tackle the issues, and the Executive Committee is due to discuss the report at their meeting on Wednesday, July 21.
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.