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Shock at charge to solve rat problem
SHOCKED residents who have complained about rats in their street are furious they will have to pay for the council to get rid of them.
Over the past few weeks, there have been daily sightings of up to six rats in Douglas Crescent, Auckland Park, near Bishop Auckland.
The street is home to several young families and residents fear the unwanted rodents, which are thought to have come from a recentlyploughed field, will become a health and safety hazard.
Aware of the growing problem, concerned resident Lynne Birkbeck contacted Durham County Council.
However, when she outlined the problem to the environmental health team, she was shocked to discover it would cost £40 for the technicians to come out.
"I have put rat poison down inmy own back yard, but they are out in the street and I am not responsible for the whole street, " said Mrs Birkbeck, 59.
"There are elderly people living here and families with children. My own grandson comes to stay here a lot too and it is worrying to think of the rats. We always get a few at this time of year, but I have never heard of asmany as this before."
The council introduced a £40 charge for pest treatments in domestic properties on October 1.
Councillor Tommy Taylor, of Coundon, described the charge as disgraceful and has pledged to raise the issue at County Hall.
"I think it is absolutely atrocious, " he said.
"It means that people who can't afford to pay out £40 will have to put up with rats. It is crazy."
Andy Denholm, the authority's envirocrime co-ordinator, said there was often an increase in rat sightings at harvest time, as the rats have to move around in search of food.
He said the council could not place poison in open spaces, such as the street itself, but added: "If residents are having problems within the boundary of their property, we will happily provide a treatment at the lowest price we are able to.
"We are also happy to offer advice over the telephone and would urge anyone with a problem to get in touch with our customer services department."