AN overgrown garden is providing a haven for a plague of rats in Netherton according to a Dudley Councillor.

A row has broken out in Bowling Green Road where the grass is definitely not greener on the other side of a fence after foliage flourished unchecked.

The state of the gardens at the privately owned property has got so bad residents, with support from Cllr Bryan Cotterill, have submitted a petition calling for action from Dudley Council.

Cllr Cotterill said: “It is an appalling state of affairs, the garden is completely overgrown. There has been so many sightings of rats – the next door neighbours have got rats in their loft.

“The council must find powers to do something about it. Would you like to live by it?”

Neighbours say the gardens at the property have been neglected for more than a decade and the plant growth on the roof of the garage at the house got so bad it caused the roof to fall in.

However residents have stepped up their calls for action after seeing a significant increase in the rat population, which they blame on the state of the garden.

Next-door neighbour Robert Bagley, aged 41, said: “We have a Staffie dog which caught three last month and we see them three times-a-week.

“This year is the first time we have seen rats in our garden, we hear them running about up in the loft and have seen droppings up there.”

Another neighbour, Sylvia Townsend, aged 80, said: “I don’t go into the back garden, I have considered moving but what chance have I got of selling my house.

“It is starting to get me down, I suffered a minor stroke last year and I have got osteo-arthritis.”

Council bosses say the law does not give them much power to force the owner to tidy up - and inspectors have not found any rats.

Cllr Pete Lowe, deputy leader of Dudley council, said: “The council has some limited planning powers which can be used to take action in respect of untidy land and property where it is considered that there is a substantial harm being caused to the visual appearance of the wider area as a result.

“That action would require the owner to take reasonable steps to tidy the land within a stipulated time period. We have visited the property on several occasions and can find no evidence of rats, however, we are planning to make a return visit to see what can be done to resolve the issues raised with us as we take these matters very seriously.”

There was no answer at the property when they News Group called to ask the owner about the overgrown garden.