A FARMER has hit back at protesters who claim figures he has produced on sheep worrying by dogs are exaggerated.

Tim Armour, a farmer and deputy mayor of Telscombe Town Council, has said that up to 30 sheep were killed on Telscombe Tye in 2017.

The figures prompted the town council to propose a public space protection order (PSPO) which would mean dog owners who walked their pets off a leash on the land could be fined.

Councillor Armour, who herds sheep on Telscombe Tye, said: “This is all about preventing the killing of sheep by dogs off a lead.

“We don’t want sheep killed by dogs and that’s all this PSPO is doing – adding strength to the present laws.”

The PSPO proposals are now at the consultation stage which aims to get the opinions of people living in area. Disturbing photographs which appear to show attacks on sheep have been sent to the Argus by Telscombe Town Council and Lewes District Council.

Cllr Armour said: “Sussex has the worst record in the whole of the UK.

“The hidden problem is dog worrying can cause sheep to abort and sheep could die from an infection.”

Dog walkers gathered on Telscombe Tye on Sunday to protest against the proposals which could mean people fined up to £1,000 if they fail to keep their pets on a leash.

They claim the figures are “greatly exaggerated”.

Cllr Armour said: “We can prove all of the deaths because it must be recorded in our diary. Those figures have to go to the Ministry of Agriculture.”

Cllr Armour said many incidents were not reported to the police.

The Dog Walkers of Telscombe Tye group said: “We are asked to believe that many sheep have been killed in a year and yet have been provided with no police reports, vet reports, Defra documentation or witness accounts. We are a community of responsible dog owners who want nothing more than to exercise our dogs without fear of prosecution.”

All members can take part in the consultation until November 23 by going to www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/telscombePSPO.

A Lewes District Council spokesman said Council said: “No decisions have yet been made and all views are welcome.”