Motorway grinds to halt after dozen horses escape from field

Traffic was at a standstill for several hours on the M11 (stock image).

Traffic was at a standstill for several hours on the M11 (stock image). Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Motorists were stuck for hours after a dozen horses strayed onto a stretch of the M11 last night.

Traffic was stopped in both directions of the motorway, between junction seven for Harlow and junction six for the M25, at about 11pm.

Highways England said 12 “very distressed” horses had escaped from a nearby field and were being “less than agreeable” as efforts were made to escort them from the road.

Motorists were advised to stay in their vehicles while the animals were rounded up – an operation that involved roads police from Essex and additional officers from The Met.

At 1.30am, Highways England announced that the final horse had been secured, after the other 11 were already safely back in the field, and that traffic would be released in both directions under a rolling road block.

Among those waiting in traffic was television personality Jodie Marsh, from Brentwood, who saw an amusing side to the incident, telling her 614,000 Twitter followers: “Just got home after being stuck for over 2 hours on the #M11 because 12 horses were loose on the motorway. It wasn’t too bad actually; we had quite a laugh in the car & we’re assured the horses are safe. I also had snacks in my handbag.”

Other motorists, including former Braintree MP Brooks Newmark, were less amused with the response from Highways England. The Conservative ex-Parliamentarian dubbed the incident ‘Horsegate’ and said on Twitter: “12 horses escaped onto the M11 almost 2 1/2 hours ago. Traffic has not moved an inch in that time and @HighwaysEngland and @M11Info have been utterly useless keeping us informed as to what is going on. Traffic must be backed up several miles by now. #M11horsegate #M11”

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Highways England responded by pointing out that it had been posting updates and responding to tweets when warranted and where possible.

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