first_imgComplaints from University staff and students that damaged city sewers are acting as a thoroughfare for rodents has prompted Thames Water to launch a pest control programme.The company has been called in by Oxford City Council after a series of complaints from Oxford residents. Thames Water plan to lay underground traps in the worst affected areas in an attempt to combat the problem, while Oxford City Council will simultaneously set a series of traps above ground. In September 2007, Dr Frances Kennett was ordered by a judge to pay council tax after refusing to pay in protest at the city’s waste collections scheme and rat infestation.A spokesman for Thames Water said that many of the traps would be laid in Greater Clarendon Street and the Jericho area. “We used CCTV to inspect the sewers in some areas of the city, and our responsibility is to make sure they are in good working order,” he said. “We have agreed to help the Council out as they have a legal obligation to ensure that the area is free of rodents.” Students living out have had to deal with rodent problems in the past. The Oxford Mail recently identified Cowley as one of the worst-infested areas of the city with 105 pest control call-outs between April and September. It claimed that Jericho was one of the least afflicted places, with just 35 rodent-related call-outs, despite recent allegations that fortnightly rubbish collections have made rat problems worse. There has been some disagreement over who is responsible for dealing with the infestation. Thames Water have cited the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act as evidence that the local authority should have been more proactive about pest control, and the City Council have claimed that Thames Water should have acted sooner. A spokesperson for Thames Water said, “We’re only doing rat-baiting because the Council asked us to. This is something we are only doing on their request.” Oxford City Council said that its only responsibility is to handle house calls for individual complaints rather than laying extensive above-ground traps. Councillor Jean Fooks said, “Thames Water have claimed they don’t have the responsibility through statute to deal with it. We would have liked them to do more baiting and they have finally agreed to do a little.”Fooks added, “Jericho is where we have the least call-outs, at half the number that it was two years ago.” She claimed that there was no link between the rodents and the change in garbage collections to fortnightly. Referring to Dr Frances Kennett, an Oxford University professor involved in a public row over refuse collection, she said, “We do have a particular resident in Jericho who is convinced there is a huge problem, and she does have a damaged drain under her house so it is possible that is where the rats are coming from. We are baiting as best as we can.”last_img read more