35,000 sign petition to save Northumberland Horse Sanctuary

More than 35,000 people have signed a petition to save a Northumberland horse sanctuary from closure.

Bebside Horses Charity Trust is facing an uncertain future after its owners were told to leave the site so a new train station can be built.

The secretary of the charity, Andrew Dawe, told ITV News Tyne Tees: "We own the bungalow and eight acres of land and all we could get with the money that they’ve offered is a bungalow and about two to three acres of land.

"There’s nowhere local in the area, whether it be Whitley Bay, Cramlington, Bedlington, Blyth etc. The closest farms we can find is Durham, Rothbury, Hexham and we have a lot of disadvantaged children, the parents are saying it’s too far for them to travel."

The sanctuary currently houses around 30 horses and a few goats. The owners say it is a place the community enjoys, providing a pony club for children and support for youngsters with learning difficulties.

Volunteer, Kelly Dodds, often brings her own daughter here and said: "These horses and this yard means a great deal to me and Maddison. The children who come up in the holidays and at the weekends and all the volunteers who come up as well and help, they mean the world to us."

Owner, Jacqueline Dawe, has lived on the working site for 37 years and said she will be devastated if she has to leave in March next year. She said she wants the council to come to a compromise.

She said: "I’d have to find homes for the ones that could be homed and I’m afraid the ones who are too old and wouldn’t take to going away, I’m afraid I would have to have them put all to sleep. I lost my husband in March and I’m going to lose my house and my horses at the same time. All in one year. It’s just trying to process it all."

A Northumberland County Council spokesperson told ITV News: “Very regrettably there is no alternative suitable site in Bebside for the station. We fully understand the concerns of the landowner and recognise all the good work that they do both for animal welfare and the local community. We are in ongoing talks with the landowner to seek an amicable agreement. “

The council said "the introduction of the Northumberland Line will help to regenerate the South East of the county, improving access to employment and education opportunities, shortening journey times to Newcastle".

It said "the proposed footbridge which crosses the land is required to provide safe access for pedestrians and cyclists from Blyth".