BOSSES at a Northumberland auction mart have been hit with a bill for more than £33,000 for breaching rules on animal movements.
The company which runs Scots Gap Mart and an auctioneer at the site have each been fined £16,000 with more than £600 in costs after appearing in court on Monday.
Hexham Auction Mart Company Ltd and John Henderson, livestock auctioneer at Scots Gap, each pleaded guilty to 17 offences under animal health legislation brought by Northumberland County Council’s public protection service.
The case at Mid and South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court involved seven offences related to the failure to complete sheep movement documents; seven for the failure to record livestock movements in the mart’s holding registers and three for breaches of a six-day standstill restriction.
The court was told how on a number of occasions in October last year, sheep were moved from the mart to its four lairage fields.
Yet no records were made of the movements, no movement documents were completed, and the council was not informed of the movements.
Sheep were then moved off the lairage fields to a farm in Northamptonshire within the six-day standstill period.
The court was told how current requirements are to keep full and accurate records of all sheep movements and to notify details of the movements to the local authority.
These requirements were introduced in the aftermath of the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001.
The six-day standstill also came into being at the same time with the aim of slowing down the movement of animals and limiting the spread of animal disease.
The company, based at Tyne Green in Hexham, and Henderson, of Chishillways, Barrasford, were each ordered to pay £643 costs in addition to the fines.
Both defendants were also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.
After the case, Victoria Barrington, head of public protection at the council, said: “I am pleased that the court recognised the seriousness of these offences.
“This case demonstrates that we will take appropriate action to protect the interests of the farming community and rural economy.
“We expect livestock markets to play their part in preventing the spread of animal disease by observing the highest standards.
“In this case, the market fell short of that.”
Anita Romer, the council’s executive member for health and public protection, added: “This is another example of the excellent work undertaken by the public protection service .
“I hope that this case will act as a deterrent to others.”
We expect livestock markets to play their part in preventing the spread of animal disease