A BID to run horse-drawn carriages around Oxford city centre has passed its first hurdle, despite objections from animal rights campaigners.
A remaining sticking point is how droppings will be collected.
Oxford City Council has agreed by-laws can be established which would allow horse-drawn sightseeing carriages to operate through the city for the first time in 70 years.
The council’s general purposes licensing committee last week agreed the idea in principle.
Horse-drawn carriages, popular with tourists in cities across the globe, have not operated on a significant scale in Oxford since before the Second World war.
The application was submitted by Kevin Merry Carriages, which has operated a horse carriage business in the area for more than 10 years.
Mr Merry, from Murcott, near Kidlington, plans to have a two-horse carriage which would take tourists on a 30-minute sightseeing tour from Broad Street taking in Parks Road, Longwall Street, Magdalen Bridge and High Street.
He said he was ‘thrilled’ the city council had consented.
He added: “We are very pleased. It is excellent news.”
Council officers will now draw up a number of by-laws, which could include setting out a route and where the stand for horses will be.
Business associate Niels Paige, assured animal welfare campaigners the horses would be treated with the utmost care and attention.
He added: “Kevin has worked with horses for more than 30 years and already donates part of his profits to a horse welfare charity.
“This is not a PR move, It is something he feels very strongly about.”
Wolvercote city councillor John Goddard said he was not opposed to the carriages, but was worried about how droppings would be dealt with.
A petition organised by animal rights group Peta (The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) drew 700 signatures opposing the plan.
It will now go before a full council meeting in December for final approval.