North Norfolk pair banned from running riding school for five years
PUBLISHED: 16:39 17 March 2016 | UPDATED: 16:39 17 March 2016
A north Norfolk mother and son have been banned from running a riding school for five years.
Rosemary and Ben Fabb pleaded guilty at Norwich Magistrates’ Court to running the Fern Bank Riding School, at Roughton, near Cromer, without a licence.
The pair, who had been refused a licence last year, were partly caught out in an undercover council sting.
Magistrates heard that North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) had refused a licence to the Fabbs in January 2015 following serious concerns identified by a veterinary inspector about the health and welfare of Fern Bank’s horses.
Despite having no licence, and the concerns reported to the Fabbs by NNDC, the pair continued to advertise riding lessons on their website.
There were also eye-witness accounts of riding lessons continuing at Fern Bank, and a covert surveillance operation organised by NNDC and carried out by an officer from another local authority, resulted in the officer being given a riding lesson.
Magistrates noted a considerable amount of work had gone into establishing the facts and evidence of the case and that the Fabbs knew they needed a licence.
They had accepted money for riding school services, described by the defendants as “donations”, but the magistrates saw it as receipt of money.
The Fabbs had also run the riding school without a licence in 2011.
Their guilty pleas were taken into account, resulting in a reduction of the fines from £750 to £500 each. They were also ordered to pay £1,300 prosecution costs and £50 surcharge. The total for each defendant is £1,850.
Judy Oliver, NNDC cabinet member for licensing, said after the hearing: “This is an important outcome for the council. The disqualification of the defendants for five years and the fines awarded in the case show that these breaches of licensing regulation will not be tolerated and are taken seriously by the courts.”
As reported in the EDP at the time, vet Diana Verhulst’s inspection report to NNDC in January last year said that she had found it to be untidy and unhygienic.
Horses were not adequately groomed and the pasture and shelter were insufficient for the number of animals.
The Fabbs claimed some of their horses had been rescued weeks before the inspection and were in a poor state when they arrived. Ben Fabb said they looked after their animals “100pc.”
Commenting after yesterday’s court hearing Rosemary Fabb said the closure of the riding school had been: “the best thing that has ever happened to us - we have got a life now.”
She added that they had started running a livery yard, for which they did not need a licence, and were already caring for 15 horses which were being treated very well.