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A woman, who was among horsebox drivers stopped in HGV checks on the M11 on 23 February, claims she was given inaccurate information by a trading standards officer.

Sarah Parlour of Frinton says an animal health officer from Essex County Council told her that she needed a certificate of competence to drive her horsebox further than 40 miles in any journey – even though it was for personal use.

Miss Parlour, whose lorry was unladen, claims she was told, if she had had horses on board, they and the box would have been impounded.

But the animal health officer was mistaken – certificates of competence only apply when boxes are being driven as part of a business.

“The officer told me 22 other horseboxes had been pulled over,” said Miss Parlour. “She said 95 per cent of horsebox drivers were doing so illegally.

“I have spent the past week trying to find out how to get one of these licences, only to be told by Defra that I don’t need one.”

A council spokesman said the checks were a joint activity by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), themselves and Essex Police.

He said VOSA was checking for vehicle defects, the police for motoring offences and trading standards was there to ensure that animals were transported in accordance with the law.

He did not comment on the misinformation Miss Parlour claims she was given.

Miss Parlour has reported the trading standards officer to Essex County Council.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (8 March 2012)