East Lindsey

A woman who owns a horse on Lincoln’s South Common is pleading with people not to feed the animals after another owner’s beloved pet tragically died at the weekend.

Vera, a 14-year-old horse, was owned by a man called John. There are around eight or nine horses left on the South Common now, including one owned by Charlotte Houlden.

Charlotte was called at around 7.30pm on Sunday, August 1 regarding John’s horse Vera, who was down and struggling to get back up again.

She told The Lincolnite the horse had been given cake, bread and carrots that day and that’s only what was known, as more bad items may also have been given to the animal.

Charlotte keeps most of her own horses on a private field, but is angry at the treatment of the ones still on the common. She added that signage she had previously put up at the common has been ripped down.

Horse owners are urging people not to feed their animals on the South Common in Lincoln. | Photo: Charlotte Houlden

Charlotte said: “We quickly assessed the situation and originally thought colic due to her (Vera) sweating and straining. We called her owner who in turned called the vet before rushing to the common himself.

“The couple who called us and their lovely neighbour were there helping us keep the horse nice and calm.

“The vets arrived just after 8pm and and confirmed it wasn’t actually colic going by her bloodshot eyes, shallow breathing and stiff legs. Something had poisoned her and she also went cold very suddenly.

“The vets gave her some pain relief to see if it would help, and we all tried to roll her onto her knees so she could attempt to get up. She did manage it with a lot of encouragement, but was too weak. Her back legs wouldn’t hold her and she was down again in less than 10 seconds.

“At this stage the owner and vets agreed she won’t make it, and I was asked to make the call to John Lord just before 9pm to come and put her to sleep. John humanely dispatches horses and other large animals and is extremely good at his job. He was there within the hour and she was put to sleep using an instantaneous method.

“The last thing she heard was “good girl” and she was gone. The pain relief she received kept her calm and comfortable during the wait.

“She’ll be greatly missed by horse owners and common visitors alike. She was a very loving horse.”

Horses on the South Common in Lincoln. | Photo: Charlotte Houlden

The problem of people feeding horses on the South Common has been ongoing for years and has become even worse during the coronavirus lockdown.

Charlotte added: “It’s a daily occurrence despite signs and people being asked to stop.

“Please don’t feed them anything at all. Give them a good back or neck scratch instead, the horses love that and it’s not something that can kill them like feeding can and has.

“It’s been a slight problem for years but it’s been really bad ever since the first lockdown last year.

“As more people used the common, which is brilliant, unfortunately more people started feeding the horses. Now it’s many people every day and they can be so nasty when asked to stop.

“It’s not just on the commons, it’s happening all over, including private fields.

“We lost a wonderful family pony as a result of someone feeding him. He choked, reared, hit his poll and ended up with severe neurological issues and blindness. He had to be put to sleep, bless him.”

Organisers of the Lincoln Steampunk festival have promised big plans for the event, which could see it branch out to the city centre, after securing a five-year deal to keep it in Lincoln until at least 2026.

The future of the Steampunk festival appeared to be in doubt earlier this year, when organisers announced plans to move the event from Lincoln to Newark for 2021.

These plans were then shelved after Kelham Hall, the primary venue chosen for the Newark event, went into administration. As well as this, Newark & Sherwood District Council confirmed that plans had not been submitted to the local safety advisory group for the festival.

While there will not be a Steampunk event in 2021 due to the ongoing fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, a deal has been struck between organisers, Lincoln BIG, City of Lincoln Council and Lincolnshire County Council to keep the festival in Lincoln for the next five years.

Left to right: John Naylor, Jackie Brockway, Cllr Colin Davie, Cllr Lindsey Cawrey, Lincoln BIG’s Sarah Loftus and Cllr Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The 2022 event will be the first of the agreed deal, which will allow Steampunk to use the uphill area of Lincoln on the castle grounds and the cathedral, but organisers don’t want to stop there.

Plans are apparently in place for there to be Steampunk events in the city centre, including in the Cornhill Quarter, starting next year.

This could eventually lead to the festival branching out to other areas of the county as well as Lincoln itself.

John Naylor is the organiser of the Steampunk festival. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

John Naylor of the Ministry of Steampunk called Lincoln the “spiritual home” of the festival and said he was delighted that it will be returning to the city for years to come.

“The Steampunk festival attracts thousands upon thousands of people every year, and we want it to keep growing and benefitting the city of Lincoln.

“Our hope is to expand the festival across the city, putting Lincoln on the map and making it similar to that of the Edinburgh Fringe.

“We are supremely grateful for the support and encouragement of Lincolnshire County Council, City of Lincoln Council and Lincoln BIG, together with Lincoln Cathedral and our other local partners.”

Steampunk is believed to generate £2.2 million each year for the local economy, so news of its departure to Newark before the eventual cancellation dealt a bitter blow to Lincoln, but the return next year and beyond is being welcomed.

Lindsey Cawrey, executive member for cultural services at LCC, said that securing the future of Steampunk in Lincoln was her first job in the role, and she is relieved to finally be able to share the news with people.

“Talks began with John and other organisers in May and we were eager to keep it in Lincoln. Steampunk is about so much more than just the festival itself, it’s about what it brings to the city as well.

“Hospitality benefits from it, tourism boosts as a result, there’s just so much to do over the four days it is on.

“Signing a five-year deal for the festival is a commitment to Steampunk, making organisers aware how much we value them here in Lincoln.”

Cllr Colin Davie, portfolio holder for economy, echoed the sentiments of Cllr Cawrey, telling The Lincolnite: “It’s great news for the city, we hope it can continue to out Lincoln on the map and perhaps expand across Lincolnshire in the coming years.”

A drink driver with “an appalling” motoring record drove at 120mph in an attempt to evade pursuing police cars, Lincoln Crown Court was told on Monday.

Police were tipped off that Michael Stevenson, who had four previous convictions for drink driving, had set off to drive home from Skegness after he had been drinking.

Noel Philo, prosecuting, said an officer saw Stevenson driving on the A158 heading towards Lincoln but was unable to keep up with him.

Stevenson reached the Lincoln bypass and was pursued from there by another officer as he drove to the Nettleham Road roundabout and then on to the Riseholme Road roundabout.

Mr Philo said: “He turned right onto the A15 and headed north. The traffic was described as very light but the car was travelling very fast indeed.

“The speed limit is 50mph. He overtook several cars and was going at over 100mph.”

Stevenson drove on the wrong side of the roundabout at the junction with Tillbridge Lane.

Mr Philo said: “There is no way he could see what was coming the other way. He got back on to the correct side of the road and continued at a very high speed.”

Stevenson reached 120mph on a section of the road where the speed limit was 70 before turning right and heading for Spridlington.

With police continuing to pursue him, he twice performed handbrake turns.

He went through Spridlington village at 60 and continued on to a minor road ending up on a farm track which led to a dead end. Police were then able to prevent him driving off and he was arrested.

He was breathalysed producing a reading of 54mgs of alcohol per 100mls of breath compared to the legal limit of 35mgs.

The court was told that Stevenson had two convictions for drink driving in 2006 and further convictions for the same offence in 2007 and 2015.

Stevenson, 34, of Brecks Lane, Rotherham, admitted dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol as a result of the incident in the early morning of May 3 this year.

He was jailed for 14 months and banned from driving for four years and seven months.

Judge John Pini QC ordered confiscation of the BMW car that Stevenson was driving.

The judge told Stevenson: “Your driving record is rightly described as appalling. An immediate custodial sentence is absolutely unavoidable. I would be failing in my public duty if I did otherwise.”

Leanne Summers, in mitigation, said Stevenson had been out of trouble for six years and had changed his lifestyle since his last court appearance.

She said Stevenson’s life changed again when his relationship with his partner broke down.

On the day of the incident Stevenson was visiting Skegness when he received an ultimatum from his partner to be back by 5am.

“When he set off he believed he was able to drive. When he saw the police car he panicked. He thought that if he was stopped he would lose his job.”

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