LONDON — Patrick has only been mayor of Cockington, a small English village, for less than two weeks. But he’s already had his office taken away.

That is, his small pen filled with hay. Because Patrick is a pony.

Patrick, a 4-year-old Shetland pony with well-combed bangs, had been meeting with constituents at an “interaction pen” in the garden of a pub, which he regularly frequents for a few slurps of Guinness. But that has been dismantled, after a single complaint lodged to local authorities.

The dispute is ostensibly about building permissions — but supporters are convinced that it was designed to take him down. Possibly by a human who wants to be mayor.

“It was a one-horse race for him to be mayor, but apparently someone was jealous,” said Kirk Petrakis, who, along with his wife, Hannah, owns the mayor of the town in Devon, England.

Patrick’s pen, constructed almost a year ago by volunteers at an agricultural organization, was outside the Drum Inn pub in Devon. Locals — especially those who had anxiety, disabilities and terminal illnesses – knew they could always find him there, Petrakis told The Washington Post.


But since he became the mayor — at an official ceremony on July 23, in which Patrick donned a traditional British mayoral red gown complete with a white trim — there was a complaint to local authorities from an unnamed person.

Petrakis says they don’t know who is behind the complaint, but “we have our suspicions.” Patrick currently resides at a “luxury stable,” his owners said, but they did not want to share his exact location because of safety fears.

A Torbay Council spokesperson confirmed it had received a complaint from a member of the public and said that it had “not received or approved any planning applications for the fencing or the change of use for horses” and that it encouraged Patrick’s supporters to seek adequate permission to erect a space for him to meet with locals.

The council said it had opened an “enforcement case” into the erection of “unauthorised timber fencing and the display of advertisements within the beer garden,” which is in a designated conservation area and next to a historic building.

Patrick’s owners say they are devastated by the council’s actions and say they are alarmed at how quickly the council responded to a single complaint about the town mayor.

Petrakis says he and his wife, Hannah, were forced to dismantle the pen as onlookers cried. Patrick’s pen “meant a lot to so many people — it was to support those most vulnerable in our community,” he said, especially after lockdowns enforced by the British government during the coronavirus pandemic.


Petrakis added that he did not think special planning was needed for Patrick’s pen, insisting there “is lots of other fencing close by, without permission.”

According to Patrick’s owners, the pub says the mayor is still welcome inside. “But it’s not the same,” Petrakis said. As for the Drum Inn, “we won’t be commenting on the pony,” its manager said when reached by The Post.

British lawmaker Kevin Foster, who serves as a Conservative member of Parliament for Torbay, said Thursday that he was “stunned” by the council’s “disproportionate response” to scrap Patrick’s pen.

“The move to make Patrick ‘mayor’ was meant as a lighthearted and humorous way to promote Cockington Village to tourists,” Foster, who supported his campaign, told The Post. “Yet the over-the-top reaction of Torbay Council in response to one complaint is the real joke.”

Foster attended Patrick’s swearing-in ceremony, where Patrick paired his red robe with a handcrafted golden chain around his neck as his insignia of office, just like the many mayors who stood before him (on the usual two legs, not four).

During the pandemic, people who became isolated at home followed Patrick online and quickly considered him a friend, his owners said. When his pen opened and lockdowns lifted, locals then ventured out to meet Patrick.


They knew he would be there, waiting. Patrick is “for everyone,” Hannah Petrakis said.

Foster said that Patrick’s “small therapy area in a large beer garden” was a space for residents to share their comments and concerns – and was of “no inconvenience to anyone.” He implored the council to rethink the decision and instead “help facilitate the serious therapy work being done.”

Thousands of people have sent messages of support amid Patrick’s pub controversy, Petrakis said.

Petrakis and Patrick posted a video Wednesday to the mayor’s official Facebook page this week to update supporters on the situation. After nine minutes on Facebook Live, the pony fell asleep.

“We are all in this very difficult situation in our lives at the moment,” Petrakis said citing the cost-of-living crisis in Britain and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Patrick has recently raised money to support Ukrainians.

Patrick’s owners told The Post on Thursday that they would carry on trying to develop a designated space where Patrick can meet people.

Petrakis explained that though Patrick is allowed indoors in some cases, sometimes such environments can be too noisy when he is attempting to comfort those who need it.

“We will find somewhere,” they said. “If Patrick here can bring a little bit of happiness to everybody, what is the harm in it?”

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