PEOPLE power has led to Thurrock Council making a dramatic U-turn on its decision to allow horses to stay in the heavily-flooded Mardyke Valley.

About 40 animals will be moved following extreme pressure from campaigners, who gathered 6,000 signatures for their petition in just one day.

The council has changed its mind on the suitability of the ground alongside the A13 and M25.

Grazing on the council-owned floodplain will now stop between November and March each year.

Horses will be taken away as soon as a suitable new location is found, though no time frame has been given.

The campaigners’ petition gained 8,475 names in total.

Sue Allery, chairman of the Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society, is delighted.

She said: “All we were asking for was a solution during the winter months which kept these horses safe. During the winter we get inundated with calls about the Mardyke.

“We said ‘please arrange something so the horses are safe’. It all got a bit silly in the end, but thankfully it is being dealt with.”

Sue Burton, manager at the Remus Horse Sanctuary, in Ingatestone, added: “We’re absolutely thrilled. We wanted to get something done before there was a serious accident. This is something everyone has worked so hard for.”

Tory councillor Lynn Carr was also pleased. She said: “This was always about the welfare of the horses. The calls taken every winter by the welfare organisations and the RSPCA, the police, fire service and council were overwhelming. This had to be addressed.”

A council spokesman said: “With immediate effect, it has been agreed the floodplain area will not be grazed on during the winter months.

“The horses will be removed and relocated as soon as a suitable alternative location has been found.

“The RSPCA has confirmed there are no immediate significant welfare issues for the horses.”