‘We’re being plagued by rats’ say village pensioners

Freda Devine who is sick of the rat problem near her home.
Freda Devine who is sick of the rat problem near her home.
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A pensioner has hit out at council bosses over a village rat problem.

Freda Devine says the area near her home in Shotton’s Dunelm Place is being plagued with the vermin due to nearby empty properties in Cowley Street and rubbish being left outside of them.

The 74-year-old said she and her neighbours have contacted environmental health staff at Durham County Council about the problem, but were left stunned when they were told there would be a £40 call out charge.

Freda said: “This has gone on now for about three months. Lots of us have seen the rats, my neighbour even found a dead one outside his door.

“It is getting beyond a joke now. I couldn’t believe it when I rang and they said I would have to pay £40 for them to come out. I’m a pensioner and I pay all my council tax.

“It’s disgraceful, it’s not us that’s causing the problem.

“We shouldn’t be left to deal with this just outside our front doors.”

Freda said the former Goldmine pub has been closed for a long time, but large bins left out the front are attracting the rats.

Gary Hutchinson, environment protection manager at Durham County Council, said: “We have responded to concerns raised by local residents on two previous occasions, but at that time we were unable to find evidence of any rats.

“Now that we have been made aware of further concerns we have been out to speak to residents and inspect the area believed to be the source of the possible problems.”

He said the pest control fee was introduced in 2012 to meet savings targets.