ENVIRONMENTAL health bosses have vowed to take action after the best place in the country to live has been infested with rats.

The Daily Echo revealed how residents of Valley Park were demanding action after their streets, parks and woodlands have been plagued with rodents.

Test Valley Borough Council have said they are aware of the problem and are continuing to monitor the situation.

But residents say it is too little too late as the rat problem is already out of hand.

They say their lives have been made a misery as they worry about rats going into their homes and schools as numbers continue to increase, and they are concerned that someone could catch leptospirosis, a potentially fatal disease transmitted through rats’ urine.

A Test Valley Borough Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the issue of rats in Valley Park and have subsequently investigated.

“Bait has been laid in areas where we are permitted to do so, taking into account the need to protect other wildlife and watercourses.

“We will continue to investigate and monitor the situation.”

But residents say it’s not enough.

Among them is retired Paul Garland who said he has been contacting the council for over a year about the problem.

The 60-year-old said: “I think it’s a little bit late now for them to monitor it because they’ve known about it for a while.

“It will only take one child to go down with a rat-bound disease and there will be big problems.

“Now that Valley Park has been named the nicest area to live, Test Valley Borough Council might take this more seriously.

“They spent lots of money on hanging baskets and greenery but when it’s a rat problem it seems they don’t want to deal with it.”

Local councillor Alan Dowden, who has received hundreds of complaints about the infestation, also says their action is insignificant.

He said: “It needs widespread action from them because they are just going to increase and increase and I don’t want any child getting this leptospirosis disease.

“I think you can leave things too long and we’re plagued with them now.

“This is an ideal place for families to live – there are three nurseries and two primary schools so there are a lot of children about, and I do not want Valley Park being spoilt by rats.”

News of the infestation came just 24 hours after research by a national newspaper rated the community the best place to live in the country.

Valley Park was named as the country’s top spot after research looked at 7,137 areas across England and Wales, examining statistics on crime, household income, health, home ownership and the proportion of residents who are earning.

That followed statistics from Public Health England which revealed that people living in Valley Park have the highest life expectancy locally, with women expected to live to 89.3 and men to 84.7 – compared with 83.7 for women and 80.2 for men in Hampshire.

Test Valley Borough Council’s pest controllers charge residents £21 to investigate their property and £64 for three visits to treat a problem with rats or mice.