RATS at a council-owned sheltered housing scheme for the elderly in Highworth are making residents and neighbours lives a misery, one has claimed.

The man who lives close to the Middi Haines Court complex of 16 flats and 20 bungalows said he saw the biggest rat he’s ever seen come over his fence from the grounds of the facility.

The man, who does not want to be named, wrote to Swindon Borough Council saying: “There has been a rat infestation there in the grounds and drains for some years now and it has still not been rectified.

“I was sitting in my back garden minding my own business and I spotted the biggest rat I’ve ever seen coming over the top of my garden fence and from the grounds and drains of Middi Haines Court.

His email continued: “This is not a new problem either. It’s been going on for a very long time now – some years.”

The neighbour of the complex said he’d been told that the residents at the homes have been bothered by the animals: “The residents have taken to laying paving slabs over the holes on their garden areas where the rats are coming up adjacent to the manhole covers.

“It’s disgusting and scary and none of us wish for these vermin to be able to enter our homes and cause further upset and damage. They need to be dealt with now please, and urgently before someone is bitten by one of them or worse.”

Although the complex is owned and operated by the council, a response to the resident said sorting out the rats was Thames Water’s responsibility.

An email from one of the council’s senior environmental health officers, said:”: “This issue is a structural defect with the Thames Water sewerage system.

“You will need to contact Thames directly for a response from them.”

The email added if the water company was not responsive a council Healthy Neighbourhoods team could visit the site and contact them direct.

It concluded: “It is also fair to say that rodents are an ever-present and natural part of our environment. Rats and mice, along with other small mammals will be found on virtually every parcel of land in this borough, and every other borough. However I shall visit the site to establish the extent of the issue.”

The neighbour was not impressed by the response.

He said: “The council has totally sloped shoulders on this. I don’t see why they think I should contact Thames when the rats are coming into a council-owned home on council-owned land. Why does that become my problem, and why aren’t the council doing something about it to protect its residents?” I have taken remedial steps to protect my property as much as I can and I’m going to leave them to it.”

Thames Water said it had received no complaints from customers about rats.

A council spokesman said: “We employed a pest controller to carry out a detailed survey of the drains at Middi Haines Court in June and this uncovered a number of issues with the sewer system that are contributing to the rat problem. We are liaising with Thames Water to ensure the sewer system is repaired as quickly as possible so the rat infestation can be dealt with accordingly.”