Rat problem sparks fears over state of popular Sunderland park

Rats caught on camera in Barnes Park by Joe Dunn.
Rats caught on camera in Barnes Park by Joe Dunn.
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Concerns have been raised about the state of Sunderland’s much-loved Barnes Park as city leaders defended its maintenance.

After Liberal Democrats expressed worries about rats running round the space last week, residents got in touch to add their voice to the call for more to be done.

A duckling in stagnant mud in the pond at Barnes Park, as spotted by Joe Dunn.

A duckling in stagnant mud in the pond at Barnes Park, as spotted by Joe Dunn.

Conservative members say they too have raised complaints with Sunderland City Council, leading to additional pest control bring drafted in to try and keep the rodent problem down.

Related: How to help prevent rats from spreading in Sunderland

Among residents who fear the standard of the park will fall further again is Joe Dunn, from Millfield, who has caught photos rats, as well as ducks swimming amongst rubbish.

He and others say the aerators and pump in the pond are blocked, causing flooding after rain and muck to build up in dry weather.

It’s a hazard, not just for the wildlife, but for the children playing around.

Joe Dunn

Related: What to do if you see a rat

The 63-year-old said: “I can see the gradual deterioration of the park, particularly the lake and after the rainfall last week, it’s just stagnant water and mud.

“It’s a hazard, not just for the wildlife, but for the children playing around.

“We know rats spread some terrible diseases and it’s becoming dangerous to the health of people.

Concerns have been raised about the state of the pond in the park after issues with its pump and aerators.

Concerns have been raised about the state of the pond in the park after issues with its pump and aerators.

“On the surface, Barnes Park might look pretty good and a Green Flag Award Winner, but no, it’s a mess and I see it every day.”

Related: ‘Call in the Pied Piper’ - bread, rubbish and lack of pride blamed for rat problem in Sunderland park

Councillor Anthony Mullen, a Conservative member for the ward, has called the council about the issues, including the rats and lake issues and added: “I think people want to see it maintained a bit better.”

Councillor Amy Wilson, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Our city’s parks are hugely popular attractions and are, of course, well-regarded and well-loved locally by residents and well-thought of nationally.

Litter in the pond at Barnes Park.

Litter in the pond at Barnes Park.

“The council does carry out preventative pest control works in our parks, council staff also tend to our parks, and anyone with any concerns should always report them.”