Oxford City Council this week agreed that, in principle, by-laws can be established that would allow the launch of a horse-drawn carriage service in the city centre.
Kevin Merry Carriages hope to launch a carriage tour service in spring next year.
Founder Kevin Merry said they would were hoping to run the tourist service from the rickshaw stand on Broad Street.
He said: “We are very pleased and we think this will be great for tourism in Oxford City. A lot of other major cities have a horse drawn carriage service and it’s a great way to see the city at a slower pace rather than just whizzing by.”
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation (PETA) released an official response opposing the plans and a further 650 emails were received from members of PETA.
However, Kevin Merry insisted, “there are no animal welfare issues, if horses are ill then they won’ t work”. A council meeting will now be held in December, which will debate whether to approve the plans.
Reactions from students were mixed. Amy Louise, a second year student from Wadham said: “It’s not tacky, but logistically this could be problematic. I don’t see how it could work in Oxford- in York they go along massively long streets. And I like it! Oxford really is quite small you couldn’t ram a horse down carriage down cornmarket.” Caspar Donnison, a Pembroke student and horse enthusiast, agreed: “I’m not quite sure how the horses and cyclists would share the streets”.
However, second year law student Matt Gray described the news as “amazing”: “part of the reason I came to Oxford was to indulge in traditional culture”. He said that, if the scheme went ahead, he would “definitely be up for taking a ride”.
The horse drawn carriage could not be licensed as a Hackney Carriage but would instead be licensed as an omnibus moving along a fixed route. The draft bylaws necessary for the proposal have received provisional approval from the Secretary of State for Transport. The proposed licence fees total over £450, which the applicant would be liable to pay.
Oxford City Council were unable to comment.