Overflowing bins at heart of city’s recent surge in rats

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Calls have been made for the Pied Piper of Hamelin to work his musical magic after an increase in rat sightings across the city.

And if he can’t do it feline prowess could be the solution to help tackle the 40 per cent increase in the rodents in the last two months, according to local pest control firms.

Edinburgh is infested with rats. Picture: Paul Chappells

Edinburgh is infested with rats. Picture: Paul Chappells

Fears littering and overflowing communal street bins are contributing to the problem.

City Centre Cllr Jo Mowatt said she has received more reports rats in the last month across the ward, than ever before. That’s as well as her “big lazy cat” catching one rat a day at the moment.

She said: “Most of the complaints I have had, have related to communal bins and there is a real need to ensure that these do not overflow and are emptied regularly and on schedule and that when bins have overflowed the litter around them is cleared up quickly.

“A common complaint is that this litter is left to lie and it then attracts more vermin.”

Across the city there are approximately 18,000 communal bins, ranging in size from 500 to 3200 litres.

Cllr Mowatt added: “The council has been aware of problems with communal bin collections for the last year and has been trialling different collection schedules in Leith - if these show improvements then it is imperative improvements are rolled out across the city.

“If we don’t see improvements soon we’ll need the Pied Piper of Hamelin and Dick Whittington’s cat given the increased visibility of the rats in the city.”

Residents say an increase in collections throughout the city would help alleviate the attractive food piles drawing the rats in.

Gerilee Stirzaker said: “Bring weekly collections back. The place is a disgrace. Rubbish everywhere. Houses over run with mice. Disgraceful.”

And Yvonne Carnie urged the council to get “refuse collection back to weekly”.

A council spokesperson “While our own pest control service has not reported a significant increase in the number of rats reported, we understand the public’s concern, and will continue to respond to reports of vermin in public areas and Council property.

“We also appreciate the frustration caused by overflowing bins, and under our Waste and Cleansing Improvement Plan have identified a number of improvements to the service which are currently in progress, including a collection route review, improved access to bins and the further roll-out of Routesmart routing software.

“This, in tandem with the Our Edinburgh campaign, which discourages fly-tipping and the misuse of communal bins, aims to reduce the incidence of overflowing bins, and we’ve already seen a reduction in complaints compared to recent years.”

Dr Mark Lambert from the Animal and Plant Health Agency said the accumulation of household litter and poor management of waste are key drivers of commensal rodent abundance.

He added: “Accumulation of litter provides harbourage – protection from predators – and nest sites for rodents, as well as potential food sources.

“It is likely that targeted litter prevention schemes can help reduce commensal rodent abundance.”

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk