MAGISTRATES could, if everything else fails, issue a warrant to enter a March home to check for rat infestation, councillors were told.

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Portfolio holder Councillor Kit Owen told Fenland District Council that powers were available to insist upon access “and a warrant can be sought”.

He was responding to a question about continued problems with rats in the West End area of March and concerns that a semi-derelict house which is lived in by a recluse may be encouraging rats.

However, he also pointed out that research had shown that rat activity was rarely confined to a single property and residents should be encouraged not to feed birds in West End which could encourage rats.

Cllr Owen also said the council “is not getting all the assistance we need from all of the residents”.

He said there was an active baiting programme being carried out and in a widespread area from Sainsbury’s to the Nene but a mild winter had led to a “very active” rat problem. The council’s contractors were always on hand to deal with it, he said.

Cllr Owen said steps had been taken to substantiate the level of infestation and the council’s contractors were available to offer a free survey to every resident who had signed a recent petition.

He said five of those who had signed the petition declined the offer of a survey saying they had not seen rats in or near their homes and so far only one resident had allowed access.

The issue had been raised by fellow Cabinet member Councillor Jan French who spoke of concerns of the possibility of one identified home being a source of rat infestation.

A letter circulated to councillors by residents claims Fenland Council has been “discriminatory and continue to act unfairly towards residents over this issue”.

They want an urgent meeting with councillors and a site meeting “to discuss the issues and resolve this once and for all”.

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