Foot-long rats infesting flats due to bin problems
PILES of rubbish outside a block of flats in the centre of Tiverton are being blamed for an infestation of vermin.
Residents of Newport House have found rats over 12ins long eating crisps in their cupboards, behind sofas and even chewing a baby's dummy.
There is suspicion the communal dumping area outside the Newport Street flats is being used by people who do not live in the block of 32 homes, resulting in bins overflowing.
Mums Chelsy Morris, 20, and Franky Piper, 23, who is heavily pregnant, say they live in fear of their health.
Chelsy, who has a three-month-old baby, said at least six residents have complained about the unwanted guests.
"It is not just my flat but the whole block and I have been asking neighbours if they have the same problem, and they have," she said.
"I heard a rat rustling in my cupboard about five weeks ago and I went to the kitchen and it was in my bottom drawer.
"It had eaten all of my crisps, it had chewed my son's dummy and it had emptied my cupboards – it is absolutely disgusting."
Chelsy and Franky, who live in separate flats, say people have either been leaving rubbish out at the wrong times as well as leaving rubbish which Mid Devon District Council does not collect.
Franky, who lives with her partner Mark Barstow, 32, and her children aged two and three, said she saw a rat flee from her bathroom a few days ago.
"My partner saw the rat in our cupboard eating our cereal," she said.
"There have been droppings in my flat and one of the kids could have picked them up thinking it was chocolate and put it in their mouth."
A spokesperson for Westcountry Housing Association, which owns and manages the property, which is near the Market car park, said staff there were equally concerned about the problem with the rats and that a considerable amount of rubbish was removed by their caretakers this year.
The spokesperson added: "Our pest policy states that rats are the resident's responsibility, however, we are in the process of planning a consultation with residents to discuss alternative options for rubbish disposals. We are very keen to work with residents on this matter as we do not believe that all the rubbish at Newport House is entirely due to the residents who live there."
Waste and transport manager for Mid Devon District Council, Simon Newcombe, said: "We have been aware of problems with rubbish and recycling at Newport House for some time, and have been actively supporting Westcountry Housing Association to resolve these issues.
"Apart from one occasion over the summer, when the bin area was so full of old furniture and other bulky waste that we physically couldn't get in to collect the bins, we have always made our scheduled collections. We understand that Westcountry will shortly be discussing with their tenants alternative options for rubbish disposal, and we will continue to offer further advice and support that we can."