Woman ordered to clear piles of rubbish from garden after rat fears
PUBLISHED: 11:38 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:38 13 February 2020
A woman whose gardens were feared to be a haven for rats has been ordered to pay the costs of clearing piles of household waste.
Margaret Stevenson, of Lowestoft, blamed the council for not emptying her bins for months, despite not reporting them as missing, as a mound of rubbish grew outside her Grosvenor Road home.
Several shopping trolleys, bin bags and household waste had to be removed after the long-running dispute, which began with a complaint in March 2019.
East Suffolk Council's Private Sector Housing Team visited Stevenson's home following a complaint from a member of the public about an accumulation of rubbish outside the property.
Despite being asked to clear the waste, the mound continued to grow over the following months, with Stevenson being served a notice under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act.
The notice required her to remove the household waste and other items which could "attract, provide food or harbourage for pests from her front and rear gardens" before June 18.
Stevenson contacted the council on July 2 to claim the accumulation was the result of the council not collecting her bins for three months, despite not reporting her bin as missing.
After a further warning, an East Suffolk Norse cleaning crew cleared away any waste which had the potential to attract rodents in August.
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However, a new complaint was received two months later, with a council officer finding around 10 black bin bags in Stevenson's back garden, along with other waste.
An abatement notice was served, with the waste deemed to be a statutory nuisance, and Stevenson was told to clear it by November 5, which she failed to do.
Stevenson did not attend a hearing at Great Yarmouth Magistrates' Court on January 30, but entered a guilty plea by post for breaching a local authority notice regarding pests and breaching an abatement notice.
Stevenson was ordered to pay £1,100 for the costs of removing the waste, as well as £400 in court costs.
A separate fine for the offences was not imposed due to her personal circumstances.
East Suffolk Council also sought court proceedings against another Lowestoft resident, Paul McConville, on the same day at the Great Yarmouth court, after he failed to remove 15kg of dog waste from his Avondale Road garden.
Councillor James Mallinder, cabinet member for the environment, said: "Rats and mice can carry disease and cause damage to property so it is important to control them.
"The most effective way of preventing rats and mice from becoming an issue is to ensure household waste is disposed of correctly.
"As well as disposing of waste in the household bins provided to each home, items can be donated to charity, taken to a recycling centre and larger items can be collected using the council's bulky waste scheme.
"Anyone who is struggling to manage their household waste, or who needs advice on how to dispose of a particular item, is urged to contact the council so help can be provided before the situation escalates."