A HEALTH boss in Test Valley has vowed to tackle the growing number of rats in Valley Park with an "intensive treatment campaign".

Residents in Valley Park and Chandler's Ford have complained about rats in the area, previously saying they couldn't step foot in their garden.

Bosses at Test Valley Borough Council and MP Caroline Nokes pledged to do all they could to work together in facing the issue.

Now, housing and environmental health portfolio holder, cllr Phil Bundy, has outlined the actions the council are taking in catching the rats.

He said: "We are undertaking an intensive treatment campaign in the Valley Park area to address the recent reports of rat sightings. We would like to reassure residents that we are working with our partners to address the issue.

"The treatment area is focused around the local centre at Pilgrims Close and neighbouring residential areas.

"We have changed three of the litter bins that may have been accessible by rats, on a precautionary basis to hopefully contribute to reducing the availability of food sources locally."

The council has also employed independent staff to help, at no cost to the tax payer.

Cllr Bundy added: "Rats will only thrive if there is a sustained source of food and we urge people using public spaces to dispose of their waste properly and not to encourage rats by leaving out food for birds.

"Further targeted work is planned in identified hotspot areas and we will be giving advice to householders about steps that can take to reduce the likelihood that rats may be attracted to their gardens."

In Eastleigh, which neighbours the Valley Park boundary, a petition is being set up to urge civic bosses to take action. At a meeting later this week, those at Eastleigh Borough Council will debate the issue.

Councillor Alan Dowden, who is chair of Valley Park Parish Council, said: "I understand that scores of rats have already been caught, and I have passed on a list of roads that have been raised with me as problem areas.

"About 50 bait boxes have been put out, and it's fantastic to see the issue being taken seriously."