Officials to go into '˜rodent infected' Bognor Regis home
Officials are to go into a Bognor Regis home which they believe could be harbouring rodents.
Arun District Council will go into Patricia Cooper’s Berghestede Road bungalow today (Friday, january 14), after its application for a warrant under the housing act was granted by Worthing Magistrates’ Court.
Magistrate Christopher Hough said: “I am satisfied Arun District Council has grounds to legally enter the property and I am also satisfied the council has taken reasonable steps to inform Ms Cooper of its intentions, and given her the opportunity to respond to the notices and informed her of court proceedings.”
The single-storey, semi-detached residence was brought to the notice of the council’s environmental heath department after a number of complaints from residents.
Robert Findlay, a housing occupation officer for Arun, said: “On October 27, a neighbour of Ms Cooper rang the council complaining of a mice infestation. The council then attended the complainant’s property and attempted to determine the source of the mice.”
During this inspection, officers from pest control saw the locked gate and dense hedging surrounding Ms Cooper’s home. They found vast vegetation, and a structure made out of chicken wire covering the back garden.
On October 28, the council issued a notice under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act which required steps to be taken to destroy or keep land free of rats and mice.
Mr Findlay said: “On November 1, the council received several more complaints from nearby residents.”
In a letter to the council Ms Cooper said: “My garden is not overgrown, it is a wildlife garden, it is meant to look like that. A huge number of birds visit my garden.
“My hedge, of which I am so proud, is full of nests during the summer, and at night lots of birds sleep in my hedge.
“I know the front of my hedge did overgrow the pavements, which it should not have, but that has been cut down now.”
The council had tried to enter the bungalow on January 5 after a power of entry notice was issued in December. However, officers were unable to gain access.
Outside court, Ms Cooper, 67, alleged the council had failed to inform her about its case.
“I’ve no idea what the case is against me,” she said. “Why do they want to hold on to this evidence? Why will they not tell me what is going on?”
She accused the council of telling lies against her, but she was refused legal aid, to leave her without representation to argue against the council in court.
But she said she expected council officials to forcibly enter her bungalow today.
“They are going to come along with the police and break in to my home like I am a drug dealer. I’m also likely to get thousands of pounds of costs awarded against me,” she said.