RATS are on the rampage in Bradford as their population has boomed by a quarter this year, thanks to the pandemic and lockdown.
A study by pest control company, Pest.co.uk, estimates there are 648,993 scuttling round the streets of Bradford this year.
That’s a 25 per cent increase from the estimated population in 2019, which was 519,194, according to the firm.
The estimated total of rats in Bradford this year is just 111,007 short of being in the top ten in the country, with 2.2 of the rodents for every person in the city.
Jenny Rathbone, from Pest.co.uk Bradford said: “They say you are only ever 6ft away from a rat – and in typical 2020 fashion it’s now more likely in Bradford than ever this year.”
It is thought the sharp increase in numbers is due to quieter urban areas during the lockdowns the country has faced, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and also larger amounts of waste food.
Mrs Rathbone said: “We are seeing a huge increase in rat problems throughout Bradford as lockdown has really helped them breed in relative peace with closed properties with poor waste management practices providing them with plentiful food and shelter.”
Elizabeth Ellwood, 69, alerted Bradford Council to “long-standing” rat infestation problems at the back of City Hall and in Norfolk Gardens back in August.
She described it as “testing in the front” – where a Covid-19 test centre is based – and “at the back you’ve got the black plague”.
Miss Ellwood was heading into the city centre from her bus stop when she first spotted a rat at the rear of City Hall.
This was then followed by further sightings of the rodent on Sunday, August 2, Monday, August 3, and Tuesday, August 4, when she made the same journey.
Miss Ellwood said: “By the Tuesday, I was horrified by what I was seeing, but more horrified by the thought that I had.
“I actually thought, ‘it’s just a rat’.
“I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t realise that in just a short time you could become desensitised by what is normally shocking.”
The 69-year-old went into Britannia House to report the issue, as City Hall was only open to staff at the time.
She said: “They weren’t fazed by what I told them and didn’t know who I should ring, but gave me the council phone number – I didn’t ring it.
“Last year I was reporting the same problem.”
Miss Ellwood has since reported the issue to the Leader of the Council, Susan Hinchcliffe, and Bradford Council itself, after witnessing six baby rats munching on litter in Norfolk Gardens on Saturday, August 8.
She said: “They said they were on it – they cut the bushes down and got rat poison.”
But the 69-year-old feels more needs to be done to stop the root cause of it all, which she said is people feeding the pigeons there.
She added: “You can’t do that, it’s a health risk.
“There’s signage there, but compared to the signs for everything else – for dog fouling – it’s like a postage stamp.
“It needs to be at eye level.
“You can’t sweep it under the carpet.
“There’s faeces and spit and all of that on there, it all carries infections.
“People sit two metres away from the rats eating their dinner.”
Miss Ellwood’s latest encounter with a rodent was on Monday, November 16.
She was heading along Hustlergate when she spotted a dead rat in the street.
The 69-year-old admits she felt sorry for it, but was more shocked by the fact nobody flinched at it being there.
A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “We take the problem of rat infestation extremely seriously.
“If anyone has a problem with rats or other vermin they should contact us on 01274 431000 or on www.bradford.gov.uk and we will advise.”