Rats plague affluent suburb

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A plague of rats infesting the leafy suburb of Chiswick is infuriating residents of this affluent green oasis tucked between the Thames and the Great West Road.

The fearless rodents, up to 8-in long, have gnawed through cellar beams and munched electrical cables, causing power cuts and triggering burglar alarms. Even dead, after being poisoned, they are disturbing householders with the stench of their rotting carcasses.

Having removed her seventh corpse since October, Sheila Scott, who lives in Grove Park, considers herself a veteran ratcatcher.

'This has been six months of hell and wanting to run away,' she said at her home, where the smell of decaying flesh lingers.

'The first time I thought somebody had left the lavatory door open and not flushed it, but then this most unbelievable stench filled the house.

'I had great difficulty getting the council out, so I had to go to Rentokil and that has cost me pounds 650 so far. My whole street has had problems and many families with small children are terrified because of the diseases the rats carry.'

Homeowners like Ms Scott, whose houses now sit in the highest council tax band, are blaming Hounslow Borough Council. A local Conservative councillor, Jo Langton, said the infestations had got worse since the council asked residents to put their rubbish on the pavements for collection.

'This is a serious and growing problem here, but the council will do nothing at the moment,' said Mrs Langton.

'They have a scheme which has been in practice for six or seven months where people now have to leave their dustbin sacks on the streets. This was a most ridiculous step.'

However, borough council spokeswoman Moira Griffiths said far from ignoring the rodent problem, Hounslow's pest control unit were constantly thinking up new ways of tackling it.

'We will come out, kill them and take them away. The only time we do not remove them is if they are inaccessible and then we spray deodorant to mask the smell.'

Gaenor Webber, spokesman for the Grove Park Group, a local amenity group, said: 'There was a general mood of horror when we spoke about it at our last open meeting. It seems to have got much worse recently, which might be to do with the increase in the population of restaurants around here as well as the fact that we have to put our rubbish bags out way ahead of the refuse collection.

'We want to get the council to do something about it because not everybody can afford to employ Rentokil every time.'

A recent national government rodent survey revealed an increase of 39 per cent in levels of rat infestations in domestic properties during the past 20 years.

The area is not alone in London in suffering from an increase in rats and mice. Peter Bateman, a director of Rentokil, said: 'Hounslow does seem to have had an increase, but our man in North London has also reported a steady rise of five per cent and Queensway and Piccadilly have some pretty bad mice problems. Areas like Hackney and the City have always been bad, but there are also a lot more in the Underground .'

(Photograph omitted)