Friday, 17 September 2021
A HEDGE is set to be ripped up in a bid to solve a rat problem.
The rodents have been nesting in the privet hedge at Singers Park in Thames Side, Henley, for at least 18 months.
But town councillors are divided over whether to dig it out.
A pest controller has put down poison, which has reduced the problem, but has warned that even removing the hedge will not solve it completely.
Rats like the area, which is owned by the council, as the hedge provides shelter and there is a regular food source from the litter bins and refuse from pubs and restaurants close by.
In a report to the council’s recreation and amenities committee, the pest controller said: “Rats are transient and will move to find harbourage and a food source.
“The hedge is providing cover and the soil is easily burrowed into. By removing vegetation/natural harbourage this will ease problems with rats.
“However, the environment around Singers park and Red Lion Lawn is highly conducive to rat activity. Food establishments attract rats as will human activity, litter and food waste.”
Committee member Donna Crook said: “I went down there with my daughter and someone chucked some bread and 20 rats came out.
“It is a breeding ground for rats and the only way to get rid of them is to remove the hedge.”
But Councillor Sarah Miller said: “I love that hedge, although I know we have got a little rat problem. It has been there as long as I can remember.
“It helps with pollution and noise. Elderly people sit there with fish and chips and watch the river — it is a nice corner of Henley.” Councillor David Eggleton, who chairs Henley in Bloom, said it was equally important to remove the food source.
He said: “We should leave hedgerows in where we can but the people who do pest control say ‘take the habitat and food source away’. At the moment we have got both.
“The solution is to take the hedge out, which destroys the habitat. We could then have a fence or a smaller hedgerow.
“As much as I don’t want to see the hedge go, we have to take it out and encourage people not to leave out food. We could reduce the number of bins there.”
Councillor Kellie Hinton said: “If we were going to keep the hedge then we would need to consider lowering it considerably as it is blocking views of the bridge and is becoming a little bit unmanageable and a hidey-hole for people to congregate in the evenings.” Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “I don’t see any point in taking away a hedge and not solving the problem.
“We need more complete advice from a pest controller. It is a problem we have got to deal with.”
He also asked if enough was being done to check the area at the back of the Angel on the Bridge pub, where the bins are stored, was being kept clean and tidy.
Town clerk Janet Wheeler said: “It is a lot better than it used to be. I have rung them myself and have told them to clear it up. It is not perfect but we have made a concerted attempt to keep that area clear.”
Councillor Sam Evans said there was an ongoing litter problem and people’s attitudes needed to change.
“We have to make dropping litter as antisocial as smoking in somebody else’s house,” she said.
The committee agreed to remove the hedge by five votes to four but the final decision will be made by the full council.
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