‘It was like a nightclub with the noise’: Family opens up about harrowing rat infestation
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
A Sarn resident has opened up on his family’s harrowing rat infestation after council figures revealed a rise in pest control requests.
Data from Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) revealed that the number of pest control requests relating to rats has increased by 53 per cent over the past five years.
Sarn resident, Ian Tapner, of Heol Ynysawdre said he has had problems with rats in his house for about five to six years.
“In the early hours of the morning you would have sworn that it was like a nightclub with the noise,” said Ian, 48.
“[You could hear them] scratching, gnawing, going back and forth because the insulation in the attic was so thin. You had to hear it to believe it.”
Ian, who shares the property with his 72-year-old bed-bound mother, wife and son, said he has had pest control around to set rat poison multiple times over the years.
However, he said the rats keep on returning – perpetuating his and his family’s “nightmare”.
He recalled the time when he had a close encounter with one of the unwelcome guests about a year ago.
“I jumped in the shower one day. I pulled the shower curtain back and who was greeting me on the bathroom floor but [one of the rats].
“He was staring at me on the bathroom floor. And he was a big one.
“And [then] he ran to the back end of my bath.”
So far, insulation and a new roof has been installed at the house to counter issues with damp. However, Ian claims the rats are still an issue.
He added: “I have had to move from upstairs to downstairs in the spare room because my mum has become seriously ill, but we can still hear [the rats] in the attic from downstairs.
“Nobody wants to live with rats.”
BCBC Independent Councillor for Ynysawdre, Tim Thomas, said he had received a “significant” number of referrals over “rat problems” at a full council meeting on January 19.
Cllr Thomas said: “I have received many concerns from people living across Tondu, Brynmenyn, Bryncethin and Sarn, about rat problems.
“This was something I identified in 2020 as a group leader, but the problem appears to be getting worse.”
When Cllr Thomas asked why the county borough had seen an increase in reports made to pest control, the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations, Dhanisha Patel, explained how the council was seeing “early indications” of reduced calls after contracting a new company to carry out its pest control work.
Cllr Thomas added: “This does nothing to explain the increase from the baseline of 2016 as presumably the same contractor was used.
“This was a missed opportunity by the Labour Cabinet to work progressively to find a solution that is causing misery to many families.”
In response to Cllr Thomas’s comments, Cllr Patel said: “I think it is important to note that we are one of the few areas to still offer a free pest control service, so of course it is going to receive a high level of calls.
“Our system records each call individually even if it concerns the same property or results from a resident not being home when operatives called, so the figures should not be misread as being somehow representative of the number of rats, one rat could be recorded multiple times.
“Our analysis has shown that during the pandemic especially during the lockdown period, calls have increased due to the fact that people have been at home more so have noticed a rat at the bottom of their garden and the loss of other potential food sources due to businesses closing has meant rats have increasingly ventured into residential areas seeking food.
“As the situation currently stands, we have new procedures and a new pest control contractor in place, and have already seen a significant fall in calls about rats.
“We believe this is due to operational changes such as increased proactive sewer baiting, better communication with householders, a reduction in the number of unnecessary visits and very importantly making residents more aware of preventative measures that they can take, and more.
“Far from being a missed opportunity, we should be acknowledging the fact that Bridgend County Borough is one of the few remaining areas where residents can still access a high-quality pest control service free of charge.”
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