Councillor Bick called the proposal 'a penny-pinch too far'Hugh Venables/Geograph

Cambridge City Council has U-turned on a proposed funding cut to the out-of-hours pinder service for the city’s cattle following backlash from graziers and councillors alike.

Admired by many for its ‘rus in urbe’ (‘country in the city’) quality, the sight of cows roaming and grazing on Cambridge’s commons is well-established. In order to oversee the general management of the cattle, city employees are appointed as pinders to handle and herd them.

The Council had proposed ending the out-of-hours pinder service earlier this week, which responds to cattle-related emergencies after office hours, in a move to save £8,000 annually and place out-of-hours responsibility for cattle on to licensed graziers.

However, an amendment from the Liberal Democrat opposition group saw the Labour-led council reverse its proposal in a meeting last night (25/02).

Liberal Democrat Councillor Tim Bick welcomed the reversal and describing the proposed cut as “a penny-pinch too far”, while Katie Thornburrow, the Council’s Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces, confirmed that the Council would support the amendment to retain funding.

Thornburrow stated that all graziers had been consulted about the pinder service in February last year and that the proposal to cut the out-of-hours service was made in agreement with them.

She added: “Going forward, we will be trialling different ways to communicate [with graziers], start a dog control campaign, adapt and work with graziers so that we know that any changes work well for all concerned.”


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Graziers can buy a grazing permit from the Council for £67 per cow from 1 April - 31 October this year, with the cost per head reduced to £43 for herds of 10 cows or more, and designated parklands encompassing Coe Fren, Coldham’s Common, Midsummer Common, Sheep’s Green, and Stourbridge Common.

A full-grown steer can weigh up to 450 pounds, meaning that assistance is required for instance when a cow falls into the River Cam.

This comes as one of city’s graziers, Mrs von Heimendhal, told the BBC earlier this week that none of the other graziers with whom she had spoken had been consulted by the Council.

Von Heimendhal had complained that graziers would not be able to provide the out-of-hours service themselves under the proposed cut, and that she did not believe that any grazier would “take that kind of responsibility and that kind of risk” to let their cattle roam without the support of an out-of-hours pinder service.

A council spokesperson had told the BBC that Cambridge’s cattle-grazing was a “significant and well-recognised contributor to the biodiversity of the city” and that the council “remains committed to continuing this grazing custom and practice.”