Sherborne resident calls for an end to rat problem
A SHERBORNE resident is calling for action to eradicate a rat infestation he claims has plagued his back garden for nearly a year.
John Hunt, 44, of Harbour Road, first noticed a burrow two feet from his back door and window sill in November last year.
He says he has seen rats scurrying out of the hole and over his garden wall.
He said: "I even saw one sitting on my doorstep eating.
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"It makes me scared to have my back windows and door open in case they come into the house.
"Other residents have seen them running across the communal gardens.
"My neighbour, Martin Hill, found one dead in his fish pond."
Mr Hunt, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, says the infestation is a constant worry which makes his condition worse.
He said: "It makes me extremely anxious. I sometimes leave the house and panic if I think I might have left the window open."
Mr Hunt, who has previously suffered from liver problems, said he fears catching an illness from the animals.
He said: "They carry diseases and I'm even frightened to use my garden."
He also thinks Belle, his three-year-old golden Labrador, became ill recently after spending time in the garden.
He said: "The vet told me it could be due to her licking things that the rats had been near."
Now Mr Hunt, a tenant in Harbour Road since 1995, is calling for landlords Magna Housing Association and the environmental health department at West Dorset District Council to find a long-term solution to the problem.
He said: "I've made numerous calls and written letters over the months.
"They have visited my home to assess the situation and tried a number of deterrents.
"The council even suggested I buy rat bait. But this has not worked and has left me nearly £60 out of pocket.
"I'm fed up of being palmed off between the authorities. Nothing's being done."
A spokeswoman for Magna Housing Association said Mr Hunt was the only resident who had reported a problem.
She said: "We were first made aware of the problem in February. Magna has taken a great deal of time and effort to assist the tenant with this problem since then."
She said inspectors had visited in August and on Thursday, when they contacted environmental health on the tenant's behalf.
She said: "He explained to the tenant that problems with rats were not Magna's responsibility."
Peter O'Neill, surveying manager, Magna Housing Association, said: "I appreciate Mr Hunt is concerned and we have certainly tried to help but a professional pest control contractor is the way to go and this is something Mr Hunt needs to instruct himself."
No one from West Dorset District Council was available to comment by the time the Western Gazette went to press yesterday.