Belfast City Council as stepped up its vermin control efforts in Belfast city centre - after concern that rotting food left in cordoned-off shops after the Primark fire are a “paradise for rats”.
According to a report in the Belfast Telegraph, six of the 14 businesses still cordoned off are believed to have had food on their premises at the time of the August 28 fire.
A statement from Belfast City Council said: “Staff from Belfast City Council’s environmental health team have been on the ground carrying out regular assessments around the exclusion zone.
“Our pest control team was out at the weekend baiting sewers in the area around the safety cordon.
“We have doubled our efforts and targeted significant resources in this area to reduce the potential of attracting vermin, and Council will continue to keep this under review.”
The statement adds that the Council has also enhanced city centre street cleansing resources in the areas which are being used as alternative routes.
“A number of food businesses remain within the cordon,” adds the statement.
“There is still no access to premises within the cordon but as soon as access can be safely facilitated, Council will assist traders who wish to access their property.
“However, this will be done on a case by case basis, depending on locations, risk assessments and legal waivers.”
Meanwhile Gary Stewart, owner of Entomol Ltd, who has been in the pest control business for 27 years, said there could be a “huge increase” in the rat population, and rotting food could also attract flies and maggots.
“The city centre is known for its rat problems and if the food is left to rot in these shops, it will be paradise for them - a rat magnet,” he said.
Last week, the council advised that the “current cordon is likely to be in place for a minimum of four months”.