Grandad Eddie has been forced to stop growing his garden vegetables after rats gnawed their way into his garden.
Edward Johnson may have moved into his home on Tennyson Street in central Middlesbrough over 22 years ago – but he has never had pest issues on the scale he’s witnessed recently. The 84-year-old said the rats have nibbled their way through his back gate and have been wreaking havoc on this garden, where he grows some of his own vegetables.
The retired OAP called Invicta Environmental earlier this month to take a look at the problem, where managing director Norman Smith let dog Buster loose near his property, which backs out onto an alley shared with a number of Linthorpe Road businesses. Buster killed a whopping 15 of the vermin – and Eddie hasn’t spotted one since.
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Eddie, who retired fully at age 79 and used to work on the business desk at the Evening Gazette, said: “Last week I had a firm called Invicta in. It cost £160 for the service because the council is refusing to do any rat-catching at the moment, their vermin thing is at an end – I believe it is the cost of doing it.
“I have a little border on my backyard. These are industrial houses where I live, with two rooms, a kitchen, and a coal house at the back which is converted into a bathroom. Then you’ve got a backyard at the side. We do have a back alley, [and] across the alley are the backdoors of various shops. Many of them are shops on Linthorpe Road.
“It is collected fairly regularly but of course, it does attract things such as rats, bees, and flies. The council environment [team] are pretty good people but if they haven’t got the money to provide the service they haven’t got the money.”
Middlesbrough Council said that it has “taken enforcement action where necessary” in relation to issues on Tennyson Street, even taking action against one fly-tipper who was issued with a £400 fixed penalty notice.
Eddie decided it was time to call pest control, with Invicta Environmental visiting the property and filming their findings. He said: “When Invicta came last week Norman immediately caught 15 rats with his dog, Buster. He got all of them apart from one that I later found in the trap. I have seen them at all ages from quite young, and I’ve seen larger ones going out.
“They gnaw through my door to get into the backyard, it is a wooden door at the bottom. It is an escape route in the event of a fire. It’s definitely the attraction. When Norman went out he continued to kill in various places along the back alley near the back of the shops. These people have got to trade and it is problem for them as well as myself.”
Eddie, who is stepdad to four and dad to two, said he does not have an issue with the council and understands how times at the minute can mean the local authority is “strapped for money” and resources. He explained: “It’s difficult to put any blame on anyone.
“I haven’t got an issue [with the council]. I have a feeling they are in a very difficult position with a lack of resources so it is just that I feel it is a priority. I think the people running the council should have priority on things that bother people in their daily lives such as these rats and of course the rubbish on our street.
“Our street is absolutely covered in refuse most of the week because people come and dump it, despite CCTV in the area. They still come and dump lots of refuse and we have that to deal with. That could be another factor.”
While he has encountered some rat problems over his lengthy stay at the Middlesbrough home, he said he has never “experienced it to the degree I have lately.” He added: “For the mice problem, I have had to put censors in which send out a large volume of noise that the rodents don’t like. I’ve got them in my house to prevent a mice problem in my house.”
Thankfully, Invicta appears to have solved his issue, with him “not seeing a rat for days now.” He said: I have to check the traps of course but the last few days there hasn’t been. Ever since I’ve been here I have grown tomatoes and lettuce in pots so I have decided to cease doing that. It’s the end of the season now, so I shan’t be doing it next season – I can’t ruin my beloved tomato plants anymore!”
Norman, of Invicta Environmental, said: “With an ever-increasing rat population across Middlesbrough, it’s important that people understand the relationship between managing waste and ensuring populations are being controlled.
“Rats are great at exploring and exploiting food sources and helping pest controllers manage this is key to ensuring control is gained. Removing 12 live rats within five minutes of arrival in the street shows how dangerous population levels can grow to if they have no control systems in place.”
A full statement from Middlesbrough Council said: “The authority does not provide a domestic pest control service for private properties and owners must find their own pest control technician if they have issues on their own private property, however, we do bait back alleys and open spaces within Middlesbrough where they may be an issue with vermin.
“In regards to Tennyson Street, we have carried out engagement with businesses and residents in this particular back street and have taken enforcement action where necessary.
“This has included business duty of care inspections to check that they have the correct waste disposal agreements in place, while we have also taken action against one fly-tipper who we issued with a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice. It is very much an area we monitor as much as we can.”