Shetland Pony Mayor Banned From U.K. Pub After Locals Complain

A row has broken out in a picturesque English village after the mayor, a Shetland pony, was removed from a local pub following a complaint to the council.

Patrick the Pony, known for his love of Guinness, was made unofficial mayor of Cockington in Devon at a ceremony attended by local Conservative MP Kevin Foster. The pony holds court from an "interaction pen" built in the garden of The Drum Inn, his favorite pub.

However, he was forced to leave after someone complained to Torbay Council, who informed the pub owners they needed planning permission for the pen and animal grazing. As the owners didn't want to go through the expense of applying for planning permission, Patrick's enclosure had to be dismantled.

Speaking to Newsweek, Torbay Council confirmed it had opened an "enforcement case" after "a complaint from a member of the public."

The Adventures of Patrick The Pony
Patrick the Pony had his enclosure removed from his local pub following a complaint to the council. The Shetland pony mayor is seen above at various events around town.

Leon Butler, a local resident who used to chair the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan Forum, suggested the complaint was sparked by anger at a pony being made mayor.

Speaking to The Times of London he said: "I'm pretty certain it's all about Patrick becoming mayor, it's someone who doesn't like that. I suspect there are a lot of people who have got an ax to grind. I have my suspicions of who it is, it's someone who also thinks they are mayor of Cockington and they do have a habit of sticking their nose in.

"They have made quite anti-Patrick posts on Facebook and barbed comments."

Foster, who serves as a Home Office Minister in the U.K., has accused the council of "making itself a complete joke".

He told The Times of London: "Like most people living in the area I am surprised by the hardline attitudes councillors have decided to take about a pony. For me, Patrick's title of mayor of Cockington was a light-hearted move to promote the village. Even I did not realize that it would provoke Torbay council into making itself a complete joke."

Torbay Council is currently controlled by an alliance between the Liberal Democrat group and an independent group, political rivals to Foster.

Patrick, who works as a therapy pony in local hospitals and schools, first became acquainted with The Drum Inn during the coronavirus pandemic. His owner, Kirk Petrakis, took Patrick to the pub to raise morale while the world battled the deadly disease.

The pony soon gained a dedicated fanbase, with hundreds signing a petition to see him become the village's mayor after Don Mills, the previous mayor, passed away in 2019.

A Facebook page in his honor, titled "The Adventures Of Patrick The Pony," currently has 7,000 likes.

Comments on the page reveal Patrick has fans from across the U.K. and in countries including the United States and Cyprus.

Speaking to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Torbay Council commented: "Torbay Council has not banned Patrick the pony from visiting The Drum Inn Public House in Cockington. As this is not a council owned premises, matters relating to the entrance policies of the venue can only be answered by The Drum Inn.

"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. 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. Acting on the complaint, 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."

Newsweek reached out to The Drum Inn for comment.

The Birds and the Bees

In other Devon news, Exmoor Zoo is looking for a partner for its female shoebill, also known as the "dinosaur bird" due to its distinctive look, which is just one of 11 in the world in captivity. The shoebill, named Abou, was brought to the U.K. from Belgium and is the only one in Britain.

Derek Gibson, the curator at Exmoor Zoo, said: "We accepted Abou as part of the European breeding program where there are more boys than girls. So, the idea is if we can keep her well and she thrives, when a male does become available, then he will also come and join us at Exmoor Zoo."

Nearby Cornwall was in the news last year after 400,000 bees escaped after being stolen from Tresillian House, and began making their way home.

Speaking to the local news website Falmouth Packet, assistant beekeeper Kathrin Barnes said: "If bees are moved less than a mile they go back to where they were before."

Update 08/03/22, 3:10 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comment from the local council.

Update 08/03/22, 9:18 a.m. ET: This article was updated with photos of Mayor Patrick the Pony.