PEOPLE living on a street in Ystalyfera have been trying to get rid of rats from their properties for years, according to one resident.

Rachel Patton, who lives on Canal Terrace, said there has been “a massive increase” in the number of rats found in peoples’ attics and gardens over the past four or five years.

“I have them in my attic all the time,” she said. “Sometimes it sounds like there’s a herd of cows coming through my attic because they are munching away up there.

“I’ve had pest control out there, I’ve put poison in my attic… I’ve closed up every hole I can think of that they’d access to my property and they still manage to get through the attic. You can hear them in the night scurrying, it’s horrendous.”

Ms Patton, who lives on a terraced street, said many of the residents living on Canal Terrace have experienced problems with rats over the years.

“I’ve never seen it as bad as it has been over the last couple of years. It is getting ridiculous.

“We’re all getting fed up and the kids are scared. What does it take for one person to get bitten and have lyme disease?”

She said her children, who are seven and 10, were playing in the garden last summer when they spotted some rodents scuttling around.

“They literally came in screaming because there were rats running around. Two or three days ago one was dead in my back garden steps”

She also said she frequently sees many rats climbing trees by a nearby underpass.

“They climb the trees to obviously get their food. We’re not just seeing one or two, we’re seeing four, five, six at a time.”

A spokesman for Neath Port Talbot Council said: “Pest control treatment within the confines of private property/land is a non-statutory function for local authorities and in order to cover the cost of service delivery it was decided to introduce a charge for the service.

“The fees and charges were reviewed in September 2017 in order to lower the subsidy made by the council and a comparison was made with both neighbouring authorities and the charges levied by private contractors to ensure the service charge was competitive.

“These charges have been subject to annual uplift together with all other council fees and charges.”

Out of Wales’ 21 councils, seven do not provide a pest control service, 11 charge residents to treat all pests and three charge for all pests except rats.

Bridgend Council currently offers residents a free pest control service for rats, mice, bedbugs and cockroaches via private company Rentokil. The local authority pays Rentokil £63,400 per year for domestic pest control and recently considered discontinuing the service,  predicting a future contract would cost around £95,000 per year, follwing a 47 per cent increase in activity.

Plaid Group leader Cllr Alun Llewelyn said the rat infestations in the area are “a health issue” and “a quality of life issue” for residents.

He suspects the infestation are not just a problem occurring in Ystalyfera but throughout the county borough.

According to Cllr Llewelyn, the problem has gradually gotten worse becuase the increased cost of pest control means some people are unwilling to pay for the service and people are also littering in the area, which attracts more rats.

“There’s been less proactive activity because of cutbacks for things like baiting and there’s been more reluctance for people to call out pest control because of the increase in charges. So I think that has added to the problem.”

Neath Port Talbot Council received 17 per cent more calls relating to rats and mice since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesman said the local authority “has reacted to these with baiting works/treatments as required”.

He added:“Having checked our database we haven’t received any calls relating to Ystalyfera for general areas and only one booking for rats in private property in 2020 and two so far in 2021.

“For the past three years, the council has had a contract with Welsh Water to carry out baiting works to the local sewers and these works are carried out on both a routine and reactive basis if complaints are received of vermin in the area.

“Should a resident witness vermin in a particular area they can report it to or by ringing our Customer Services Centre on 01639 686868.”