COUNCIL bosses have been challenged over the future upkeep of a historic local landmark.
South Tyneside Council came under fire after it restored the White Horse, which was painted on the rocks at Marsden Craggs in the 19th century – but decided did not to tell anyone about the revamp.
Now local resident Kevin Flett is demanding to know who is going to going to look after the iconic landmark which he and other people in the community had been taking care of over the years.
Council bosses say they want to work with local people to maintain the site.
Mr Flett said:
“The way it was handled has left quite a bad taste in the mouths of those of us who have been looking after the horse for a number of years now.
“We have all worked hard to maintain the area, seeking donations of paint and going on a regular basis to remove graffiti.
“Then along comes the council who just disregard everything we have done.
“They have managed to get rid of all the layers of history which had culminated over the years. You are never going to get that back.
“I know people who have volunteered their time to look after such an important part of the history of South Shields, but are very much reluctant to stay involved now the council has just steamrollered ahead with this.
“There has been no consultation about any of this work, and I would like to know now if the council are going to taking care of the upkeep of The White Horse in the future.”
Residents are also concerned that the work involved the entire crag face being scoured and that the horse is not so easily seen.
The background limestone turned black over the centuries – creating a stark contrast with the white horse. It is now a white horse on a light grey background.
South Tyneside Council said the work is being paid for with cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and it did not publicise it to combat potential vandalism.
The council insists the work was carried out to restore the White Horse “to its former glory”.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said:
“The White Horse is a landmark of significant local interest which holds a special place in the hearts of the people of South Tyneside.
“We have spoken to the community group, and a countryside officer will be meeting with them in the next few weeks.
“We would like to work with them, and any other interested groups, to agree a co-ordinated approach to protect and enhance the area of the Marsden Old Quarry Local Nature Reserve for both local people and visitors.
“We are carrying out further work in the area, such as repairs to fencing and litter picks.
“Any volunteers who would like to help to preserve the area are asked to contact the council. “
Source – Shields Gazette, 18 Sept 2014