Rats from ditch are 'causing health hazard'

PUBLISHED: 19:35 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:51 11 May 2010

PROBLEM: Tom and Janet Pratt. 3082DW020

PROBLEM: Tom and Janet Pratt. 3082DW020

A RETIRED couple who live next to the Royston town ditch have branded it a health hazard after finding rats in their garden. Janet Pratt, 68, and her husband Tom, 78, moved into their house in Stamford Avenue, Royston, in July 2007. An exposed section

A RETIRED couple who live next to the Royston town ditch have branded it a "health hazard" after finding rats in their garden.

Janet Pratt, 68, and her husband Tom, 78, moved into their house in Stamford Avenue, Royston, in July 2007.

An exposed section of the ditch, which is 6ft deep in places, runs alongside their house, just outside the boundary of the property.

And since September, when the ditch started to fill with rubbish and become overgrown, Mrs Pratt has tried without success to find out who is responsible for maintaining it.

She has spoken to Royston Town Council, North Herts District Council and Anglian Water, but says that no-one seems to know who owns the ditch.

Mrs Pratt, a retired church rector, said: "Rubbish collects in there, but that is the least of our problems.

"We have had rats come into the garden which has been disgusting.

"It is a health hazard."

But the rats and rubbish are not the only problems that Mrs Pratt has encountered.

"There is a tree coming into our roof and I am worried that any time now it is going to take the roof off.

"My question is, who do we sue when it takes the roof off?"

Mrs Pratt first raised the issue of the ditch before a meeting of Royston Town Council on September 24.

She has also written to Royston's MP Oliver Heald and Cllr F John Smith, the leader of the district council, to try to find out who owns the ditch.

At a meeting of the district council's Royston area committee last week, it was stated that the responsibility for maintaining the ditch lies with Anglian Water.

Cllr Smith said: "Anglian Water claim that residents are responsible, but it is not their problem.

"Anglian Water has got to accept responsibility."

The Crow contacted Anglian Water, who sent an officer to inspect the ditch.

A spokesman for Anglian Water said: "He (the officer) is concerned about the condition of the ditch, and there is obviously the issue of vermin, too.

"We are going to contact our land agents to have a look at the question of ownership, but we do believe at the moment it is not an Anglian Water responsibility.

"However, we want to try to ensure that we are doing the best for our customer."

Mr Heald said: "This is an issue which seems to be coming up a good deal at the moment.

"I am making enquiries with all parties to try to establish, once and for all, who is responsible for the town ditch.

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