Hiltingbury Junior School has been branded a “rat hotel” and birth control pills for rats were mooted as a possible solution for what councillors in Chandler’s Ford have described as a “rat invasion.”
At Wednesday’ nights meeting of the Chandler’s Ford and Hiltingbury Local Area Comittiee Councillors heard how rats have been seen in ‘broad daylight’ in Chandler’s Ford ,Hiltingbury, Millers Dale and Valley Park. Councillor Margaret Atkinson (Conservative) told how vermin had been seen entering houses, leaving residents too frightened to leave their doors open.
Speaking from the public gallery, Test Valley Councillor Alan Dowden (Liberal Democrat) said he had visited one resident’s home in Valley Park where he was “horrified” to see that rats had bitten through the front-room floorboards and gnawed their way through the carpet to gain access.
The meeting heard that rats have not confined themselves to dwellings either – Cllr Dowden said he spotted the creatures outside St Francis School in Valley Park and Cllr Michael Hughes (Cons) described Hiltingbury Junior School as a “perfect rat hotel” having also seen rats at the site.
Hiltingbury Lakes was another area where councillors said that rats could been seen during the day.
Cllr Atkinson warned that in addition to spreading disease, if left unchecked, rats could cause damage to property or even flooding and were capable of chewing through cables.
The Councillor urged Eastleigh Borough Council to adopt a multi-agency approach to the problem by working alongside Test Valley Borough Council, Network Rail, The Woodland Trust, Southern Water and the Environment Agency. In addition to baiting, Cllr Atkinson also suggested the use of birth control pills to control the rodent population and blamed the council’s green environmental polices that promoted composting and bio-diverse habitats for creating “rat havens.”
Cllr Hughes agreed that “everything is overgrown…accept the facts …we have an epidemic.” The Councillor declared he wanted to see Chandler’s Ford become a “rat free zone” which drew applause and several calls of “here, here” from the public gallery.
Defending the council’s rodent record Chairman Alan Broadhurst (Lib Dem) said the Pest Control Team had been baiting public areas including Hiltingbury Lakes on a “regular and ongoing basis” and that food dropped by members of the public while feeding ducks was attracting the vermin. Cllr Broadhurst added that the council were only obliged to control rats on council owned land and that the latest figures showed the number of complaints from home owners about rats had been falling – but Cllr Judith Grajewski (Cons) said that figures were based on callouts for the council pest controller and did not take into account callouts to private contractors. Furthermore, she added, the council’s ‘pest control team’ appeared to consist of just one operator.
Cllr Grajewski also said that Test Valley Borough Council charged less than Eastleigh for pest control but Cllr Broadhurst insisted that Eastleigh was cheaper when charges for repeat visits were taken into consideration.
After a form of words was agreed, Cllr Atkinson’s motion requesting that Eastleigh Borough Council’s cabinet committee reassess their current rat control strategy was carried as was a further Conservative motion proposed by Cllr Grajewski calling on the cabinet to consider fixing warning stickers to council-owned strimmers and mowers to remind operatives to look out for hedgehogs when cutting back undergrowth.