That’s according to the Tyneside Irish Centre, which said it is seeing families turning up at the lane which runs behind Stowell Street and Newcastle’s town wall to get their dogs to hunt the rats “for fun”.
It comes after those working in the area highlighted how up to a dozen rats can be seen at once in the back street on a daily basis and raised concerns that it is becoming a health hazard.
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The lane stores many industrial-sized bins, which are collected by Newcastle City Council, and these are used by the popular streets’ restaurants and bars.
Tony Corcoran, secretary of the nearby Tyneside Irish Centre, said the problem has been going on for years and believes it will continue as long as there is food waste in the lane.
“People are coming to the back of Stowell Street with dogs and the dogs hunt the rats and they just do it for fun,” he said.
“Quite a number of them turn up from time to time. The dogs will kill the rats.”
Mr Corcoran has contacted the city council and Historic England, who look after the wall, about the rats.
However, Historic England said it was a matter for the council.
“People are coming with ratting dogs and parking up at both sides of the town wall as there must be rat holes there that the dogs can get into,” Mr Corcoran said.
A spokeswoman for the Tyneside Irish Center added: “It’s people with their children.
“It wasn’t gangs of lads. It was people with their families.
“I think they might have seen the [Chronicle] article about the issue and come down for the sport of it.
“Sometimes, when I lock up quite late, I look across the road to where the town wall is and it looks like the grass is moving but it is the rats coming out because it’s getting late.”
The practice, known as ‘ratting,’ is legal in the UK under the 2004 hunting act.
However, Newcastle City Council has stressed that it is not something it condones.
Newcastle City Council said pest control teams have been carrying out “treatments” for rats in the area and added there has been a small improvement.
“As in all major cities, unfortunately rats a part of life and we continually take steps to tackle the ongoing issue,” a council spokesman said.
“Our pest control teams have been carrying out treatments for rats in the area and early signs show there has been a small improvement.
“We will continue to carry out regular inspections in the area to monitor the situation.
“Residents and businesses can help tackle the issue by ensuring all rubbish is placed securely in bins, lids are sealed properly and waste is not left in the street.”
Residents with concerns about rats can call Newcastle City Council’s Envirocall helpline on 0191 278 7878.
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