By Rebecca Selby-Heard
Runnymede Borough Council decides to permanently close a hostel for homeless people in Englefeild Green after a rat infestation was found.
The 23-unit council-owned hostel on St. Jude’s Road was closed and evacuated after rodents forced young families out.
The building was used as a house for homeless families, often with children, awaiting council accommodation.
Families were moved to emergency accommodation after treatment for rats at the site proved useless. After families captured evidence of the rat infestation on mobile devices the council finally moved the families into emergency accommodation.
During a meeting of the council’s housing committee last Wednesday, officers said they had been made aware of the infestation. They went on to explain that they were conscious of the issue, particularly that the invasion had been growing effecting rooms on upper floors, since November.
However, it was rumored from ex-tenants that the issue had been raised earlier month before attention was finally given.
“The council did come out and said they would get on top of it but nothing really seemed to get done.” Exclaimed one single mother who had been staying at the hostel after living in multiple bed and breakfast’s.
“It wasn’t as though the council was not trying,” she said. “They baited them and you could smell dead rats until we complained and they baited again but I do not think they really realised how bad the infestation was. The rats were bold as brass.”
“They seemed drugged up from the poison, docile, running up the stairs. Someone would bang the door and they would slowly turn their heads. Pretty much everyone in there had children. Students added their rubbish bags and litter from people leaving next-door newsagents… There was a permanent food supply for them.”
The single mother, who wished to remain anonymous, moved out to alternate accommodation in November.
Pat Hollingsworth, Runnymede Borough Council’s head of housing, confirmed that all residents at the hostel had been informed that they were treating and baiting for rats. However, when the infestation drastically escalated all residents were moved to alternative temporary accommodation in November. This was due to health and safety reasons.
The hasty decision, though made for valuable health and safety reasons, comes as yet another blow to the amount of temporary accommodation available in Runnymede. Addlestone prepares itself to loose more temporary accommodation units this month resulting in a loss of nearly half of its available places for homeless families.