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Yorks MPs back threatened riding schools

[Monday 19 June 2006]

EIGHT Yorkshire MPs have joined the campaign to save scores of riding schools threatened with closure because of new health and safety rules.

horse riders
MP's back equine businesses

Until now, equine centres have been able to insure pupils against accidental injury so long as they can prove that they have taken all necessary precautions to avoid accidents - and learning to ride can be a hazardous business as every country parent knows.

But the Health and Safety Executive has changed regulations to enforce riding school owners to insure against any eventuality - even if the child is to blame for an accident. And this, says the Country Land and Business Association, will mean huge increases in insurance premiums forcing scores of riding schools out of business.

Now, eight Yorkshire MPs are among more than 100 who have so far endorsed the CLA campaign to change the law. that is threatening to shut down equine businesses.

An Early Day Motion has asked MPs to support the CLA's call for an amendment to the Animals Act 1971 because of a recent interpretation which held that keepers of animals such as horses can be liable for accidents involving their animals even when they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent accidents.

It's liability without fault and a particularly bad example of the compensation culture

Dorothy Fairburn - Country Land and Business Association

"This has led to soaring insurance costs for businesses in the equine sector," said the CLA's Yorkshire regional director Dorothy Fairburn. "It's liability without fault and a particularly bad example of the compensation culture.

"As agricultural profits decline, many of our members have diversified into the equine sector and some are now struggling because of the insurance problem.

"The CLA believes that a strict, non-fault based liability regime should be restricted to animals that are fundamentally dangerous rather than being applied to normal animals behaving in a normal way."

  • The MPs are: Robert Goodwill (Scarborough & Whitby); Anne McIntosh (Vale of York); Derek McCafferty (Calder Valley); David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden); Graham Stuart (Beverley & Holderness); Ann Cryer (Keighley); Mary Creagh (Wakefield) and Jon Trickett (Hemsworth).

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