The grim reasons rats are invading a city park according to Sunderland council

A visitor dumping “large amount of bird feed”, dog dirt and litter are being given as the causes of rats overrunning a Sunderland park.

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 11:53 am

Sunderland City Council has said it has also called in Northumbrian Water to help it bait the sewers near Barnes Park to crackdown on the outbreak, which has seen vermin scuttle around its playpark and pathways.

It has pointed the finger at litter louts, those who don’t clear up dog dirt and bird feeders – including one person it believes is regularly leaving food around the park – for attracting in the rodents.

While it says it carries out frequent treatment, the council's Conservative members will put forward a motion at today’s full council, calling for additional measures across Wearside.

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The issue of rats in Barnes Park is being made worse by litter, dog dirt and people feeding the birds, Sunderland City Council has said.

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Deputy Council leader Councillor Paul Stewart said: “The council has regular rat baiting programmes, but sadly these are ineffective when litter, dog fouling and bird feeding are preventing rats from taking the bait.

“Officers have identified one individual in particular who may be considerably adding to the issue through depositing large amounts of bird feed throughout Barnes Park.

"This provides rodents with an alternative source of food and makes the baiting much less effective.

“Due to a rise in the number of rat sightings, pest control officers are stepping up baiting to at least once a week and will begin to issue fixed penalty notices to anyone found littering.

“We always encourage the public to report any significant rodent sightings."

The city's Conservative members say they want the council to fund more vermin treatment and make it easier to report sightings – the party says the council's website can handle reports in residential area but not public spaces.

The motion calls for each area committee to pledge £10,000 for pest control, a dedicated webpage and email address for sightings and a monthly list showing councillors treatment plans so they can see which areas are being overlooked.

Conservatives leader Councillor Antony Mullen said: "Nobody, regardless of political outlook, wants to see rats running around our streets, parks or back lanes.

"This plan seeks to put more money into pest control, makes it easier for the public to report vermin problems, and enables councillors to work more closely with our environmental health officers.”

Sunderland City Council says sightings can be emailed via [email protected].

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