HUNDREDS of rats are plaguing Accrington streets according to horrified residents.
Home owners around Owen Street, Whalley Road, Hood Street and Dowry Street are appalled that the invading rodents have been getting into their gardens and houses.
Milnshaw ward councillor Malcolm Pritchard said: "The whole area is plagued with rats. I don't know where they have come from or how we are going to get rid of them."
Worried residents say the rats are:
- Helping themselves to fruit from their bowls.
- Dying in their wall cavities and under the floorboards, attracting hundreds of bluebottles.
- Leaving a terrible smell of rotten cabbage which is impossible to live with.
- Making people ill.
One resident of Owen Street, who took this picture of a dead rat on his kitchen floor, said: "I was mortified. I just wanted to pack up and leave.''
He added: "People think that having rats means you're dirty but it doesn't. They are determined and if they want to get in they will.
"I've shared my fruit bowl with one, which is not a pleasant experience. I have never used so much bleach."
Another Owen Street resident, who did not wish to be identified, said: "I call this street Rats End. The other day my window cleaner knocked on the door to tell me he had stood on a rat.
"I have a small cat which regularly lines up four or five at my door."
Geraldine Rothwell, who also lives in Owen Street, said: "Over the last few weeks the problem has got even worse. I've been sitting in my living room and seen a rat on my window sill."
Her husband John was taken into hospital with septicaemia and was in intensive care for a short time, while other residents have gone down with sickness and diarrhoea.
Residents believe the illnesses are linked to the rats.
Hyndburn's pest control manager is also ill in hospital but a council spokesman said this was unrelated to her work.
Residents believe the problem is caused by a number of factors including the large number of takeaways on Whalley Road, the waste land at the back of Owen Street being used by fly-tippers, fortnightly bin collections and lack of action by Network Rail on railway land.
Councillor Peter Clarke, Cabinet member for environmental issues, said: "Nationally, the rat population is on the increase and has been for several years.
"However, numbers of reported rodents in Hyndburn have remained relatively static over the past few years.
"The area in question has traditionally been a site of infestation as it's near to the railway embankment and Network Rail has treated the area on a number of occasions.
"As it's becoming an issue again we will get in touch with them and ask them to take further action to treat the site.
"In relation to the infestation in homes, we have only had a number of isolated complaints.
"We did try to carry out a block treatment but were unable to do so as only a few residents responded.
"Officers will respond to anyone who calls us with a rodent problem and I would encourage any residents in the area to contact environmental health on 388111."
Nobody from the takeaways was available to comment at the time the Observer went to press.