Bedbound pensioner dies after being gnawed by rats as scrapping of weekly bin collection leads to rodent infestation

Thursday, July 21, 2011

By Daily Mail Reporter

A bedbound pensioner who was gnawed at by rats after her council abandoned weekly bin collections has died, it has been revealed.

The 80-year-old was bedridden following a stroke and was attacked on her feet by the rodents in her home in Byefield Road, Southcote, Reading, Berkshire, at the end of last month.

She was taken to Royal Berkshire Hospital on Friday, July 1, but died from injuries caused by the stroke overnight between last Thursday and Friday.

Under siege: The 80-year-old is believed to have been attacked by rats in her home in Byefield Road, Reading, Berkshire, pictured

Police continue to investigate the living conditions at her home while Reading Borough Council and Thames Water are carrying out a separate investigation into the source of the rat outbreak which is affecting at least three streets.

Angry neighbours blamed the infestation on Reading Council switching refuse collections to a fortnightly pick-up but the authority denied this yesterday.

Some residents have, however, been moved onto alternative accommodation until the situation is brought under control.

It has also confirmed councillors may look at changing a policy which means people in Reading are paying almost 12 times more than people from a neighbouring council to call out the council's pest control department.

Neighbours said rats were crawling into their homes through pipes and even coming up through toilets.

Chris Sullivan and his family were moved out of their home after they found rats in his daughter's bed.

Mr Sullivan said: 'I've had rats for three years - they're crawling around in the walls. They've even been in my kid's bed. We've been in touch with the council for the last two years, it's taken this long for something to be done.

'We hear them every day. They come through the pipes. The last one we saw was in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago. My youngest won't sleep in her bed any more. We're getting moved but don't want to come back.'

Council spokesman Oscar Mortali said: 'The Council is extremely sorry to hear that a Byefield Road resident has passed away and sends its sincere condolences to the family.

'The Council will continue to pass any information it has to the police to aid them in their investigation.

'Extensive work to identify the source of the infestation, which the council began the week before last, is continuing.

'This includes the laying of bait and drainage surveys in the localised area.

'The Council’s Environmental Health team has also been liaising with Thames Water who have been baiting and investigating their sewage network.

'The Council’s priority is to continue our investigation and provide the necessary support to householders.'

Tragic: The 80-year-old woman was taken to Royal Berkshire Hospital, pictured, on Friday, July 1, but died from the stroke overnight between last week

He said at this stage there was no reports of rats using bins as a food source.

'There is no link between the move to weekly separated waste collections where householders follow the advice given to them and keep their refuse in closed wheelie bins', he said.

It has also emerged the council charges £114 - which is £104 more than the £10 Slough Borough Council fee.

Mr Mortali said the cost was introduced in January by the previous administration and the new administration was 'monitoring the current charge closely with a view to reviewing the charges if deemed necessary'.

Thames Water has been baiting and investigating its sewage network while the council was doing drainage work in the area this week.

Mr Mortali added: 'The current evidence points to a drainage issue and that is where efforts are being focussed at present.'


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