Furious owners of a Guinness drinking pony which was banned from its local pub by council bosses have vowed that he is ‘not going anywhere’.
Kirk and Hannah Petrakis have accused ‘bullies’ of trying to oust their therapy pony, Patrick, from The Drum Inn in Cocklington, Devon, just weeks after he was made mayor of the coastal village.
The couple first brought the Shetland Pony into the pub to help him become more comfortable around people so he could begin visiting hospitals, rehabilitation centres and care homes, which the owners of The Drum Inn were happy to help with.
But following an anonymous complaint, Torbay council bosses banned Patrick from the pub saying he needs planning permission for his pen in the garden.
Kirk Petrakis brought Patrick the pony to The Drum Inn almost daily before he was banned, and whilst at the pub Patrick would enjoy a pint of Guinness and interact with residents
Patrick the pony, who is also a therapy animal, was made Mayor of Cocklington, Devon last week
It comes just a week after locals voted to make the beloved horse mayor of the coastal town where he lives.
Mr Petrakis, said: ‘We are going to carry on helping people no matter what. We’ll find a solution.
‘Patrick is not going anywhere, we are still going to go on and this is not the end of Patrick the Pony by any means.’
Mrs Petrakis said: ‘The pen has been up almost a year so we feel it might be someone who objected to him being the mayor.’
The couple are now looking for a new spot so people can continue to visit him, including the mother of a terminally-ill child, who says that they will follow Patrick to wherever he goes next.
Helen Petrakis said she feels Patrick has been the victim of ‘bullies’, who wanted to push the pony out of the pub after he became Mayor of Cocklington
Patrick first visited the pub two years ago to get acclimated to crowds and has since been pictured with a Guinness inside the The Drum Inn
Lorraine Tarrant, whose 14-year-old son Jon has a type of childhood dementia with no cure, said Patrick made Jon want to get out of his wheelchair and sit with him on the grass.
She said: ‘We had the most wonderful therapy session with Jon, it was a lovely, relaxed moment that gave us hope.
‘It is a difficult situation but things like that, something so simple as sitting on the grass and cuddling a pony, it was just magical.
‘We will follow Patrick wherever he goes.’
Ms Tarrant was left upset at the council’s decision to ban Patrick, saying she was in tears after she found out.
She said: ‘When I saw the news on Facebook I was taking our son in his lift to change him and I cried.
‘I cried because something so lovely can just be destroyed within a few minutes and it wasn’t doing anybody any harm.’
Torbay Conservative MP Kevin Foster, 43, slammed the move by the council, saying they were a ‘complete joke’.
He said: ‘Like most people living in the area I am surprised by the hardline attitudes councillors have decided to take about a pony.
‘Obviously all the serious issues in Torbay have been resolved so they can focus their time on a pony pen at a pub. It’s just unbelievable!
‘Perhaps the council are a little bit concerned given their own performance that Patrick is going to give them a run for their money and were worried about competition.
‘For me Patrick’s title of Mayor of Cocklington was a light hearted move to promote the village.
‘Even I did not realise that it would provoke Torbay Council into making itself a complete joke.’
Mr Petrakis leading Patrick into their local pub, where a grazing pen was set up for him in the garden
Patrick used to visit the pub regularly, but now Patrick’s owners are trying to find a new site for residents to visit the pony
The four-year-old miniature Shetland Pony first visited the pub two years ago to help him get acclimated to crowds.
The pony grew partial to a Guinness during his trips to the pub, which is great for horses and even mixed into racehorse feed.
Patrick Cain, who lives nearby in Torquay, has already created a petition to make the council allow the pony back in The Drum Inn.
He said: ‘We want this decision changed. We want them to allow Patrick to graze in the pub garden where the public can delight in watching him enjoy the grass.
‘Torbay Council need to stop being so petty and allow a little joy into the lives of residents and visitors alike!’
A Torbay Council spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that following a complaint from a member of the public, an enforcement case has been opened into the erection of unauthorised timber fencing and the display of advertisements within the beer garden of the Drum Inn, Cockington.
Lorraine Tarrant (right) with terminally-ill 14-year-old son Jon interacting with the pony
‘This is in a designated conservation area and is next to a listed building, and we need to ensure historic areas like this are protected from unauthorised development.
‘The Council has not received or approved any planning applications for the fencing or the change of use for horses.
‘Officers have now raised concerns over the suitability of these unauthorised works, the potential change of use of land and the impact this has on the conservation area and nearby listed building.
‘We have written to the landlord of the public house advising that the works are considered a breach of planning legislation.
‘We are now encouraging them to engage with the Planning Department to find a more acceptable solution, to either remove the works or to submit a retrospective planning application.’