Families plagued by rats in Sunderland neighbourhood

Southwick residents, from left  John Burnikell, Barry Rayne and  Grace Smart

Southwick residents, from left John Burnikell, Barry Rayne and Grace Smart

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Residents in a Sunderland street say they are being inundated with rats.

Homeowners in the Southwick area say they can hear the rats running about under floorboards, in cavity walls and in their roof spaces.

Grace Smart, John Burnikell and Barry Rayne are unhappy with a rat problem in Southwick

Grace Smart, John Burnikell and Barry Rayne are unhappy with a rat problem in Southwick

People living in Trinity Street say the problem is getting out of hand and believe the vermin are being displaced by the work on the new Wear Crossing and are attracted to their area due to the huge amounts of rubbish being fly-tipped on the site of the former Southwick Primary School.

Council chiefs say they are looking at bringing in tougher penalties for fly-tippers in the new year.

John Burnikell, 67, said: “We are being plagued by them. Around 4am you can hear them running around under the floorboards and scratching.

“I have caught two or three in traps.”

Around 4am you can hear them running around under the floorboards

John Burnikell

The pensioner said the problem has been going on for weeks and lots of people in his and the surrounding streets have seen the rats.

Grace Smart, 70, who has lived in her house for 26 years, said she has never known anything like it.

She said: “We have had mice before, but you can deal with them, this is something else altogether. I have had them in my kitchen.

“I phoned the council before Christmas and they said someone would get back to me, but I haven’t heard anything.”

Southwick resident John Burnikell

Southwick resident John Burnikell

Barry Rayne, 60, who also lives in the same street, said: “Between 4am and 4.30am you can hear them running about next to the heating pipes. I’ve seen lots of rat droppings as well.

“It is not just our street, lots of other people in the area have seen them.”

One neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, said it is also costing homeowners a fortune in specialised traps and poison to kill the rats.

She added: “My 11-year-old daughter is terrified, I had to take her to my mam’s house one night because she couldn’t sleep.

Rat infestation around Southwick's Trinity Street.

Rat infestation around Southwick's Trinity Street.

“We have caught two of them in traps in the loft.

“The rubbish in the area is just disgusting, we shouldn’t have to live like this. You often see dead rats on the pavement.”

Councillor Michael Mordey, Portfolio Holder for City Services, Sunderland City Council, said: “Frankly, the behaviour of some people who dump rubbish in our communities is simply disgusting.

“I’ll never understand why these people think it is perfectly fine for them to dump their rubbish where they like, and expect other people to pay for its clean-up. It’s not on and it has to stop.

“That is why the council is looking at introducing stricter penalties for fly-tippers early in the New Year.

“People have to realise that their actions have consequences. The majority of residents dispose of their rubbish correctly and are like me disgusted at the idle and idiotic behaviour that causes problems like this.”

Rat infestation around Southwick's Trinity Street.

Rat infestation around Southwick's Trinity Street.

Members of the public can report incidents and the council also has a pest control service that can be contacted on 0191 520 5550 or www.sunderland.gov.uk.

Southwick resident John Burnikell

Southwick resident John Burnikell