'Crawling with rats': Hackney parents warn of 'gross' play area where tots paddle and drink
PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 May 2016 | UPDATED: 08:35 26 May 2016
Youngsters are paddling in and even drinking water that is "literally crawling with rats" at a play area in Stoke Newington, parents have warned.
Butterfield Green has been infested with rodents for a year, a group told the Gazette this week, and many parents now avoid it.
But some children are still entering the water feature in the little park off Shakespeare Walk.
There are even fears the water could be harbouring deadly infections through a build-up of rat urine.
Dominic Young told the Gazette on Tuesday: “I’ve seen kids using the water in super soakers and taking water from the pump there to fill water pistols and even sometimes drink.
“It’s literally crawling with rats and it has been for at least a year.
“They really do spread disease and it’s irresponsible of the council to just ignore it.
“If they can’t get rid of the rats they should get rid of the water feature because it’s clearly designed for children.”
The council said pest control had visited the site already this year, and would be conducting another inspection now the parents’ concerns have been brought to light.
The Gazette spotted several rats within the space of a few minutes at the park.
Nanny Dorothy Miszkowska – who regularly lets the 22-month-girl she looks after play on the bridge with water – had just seen a rat there for the first time.
“I can see it’s a problem,” she said. “It shouldn’t be there – it’s the middle of the day.”
Another, Chana Ohlson, described how the children she looks after – who are three and five – like to watch the rats coming in and out of the water.
"I’ve seen kids taking water from the pump to fill water pistols and even sometimes drink"
“I wouldn’t want them to touch them,” she said. “They like to watch from a distance. We play with the water pump but they don’t go into the stream – it is quite gross. If it was a really hot day it would be nice for them to enter the water but I’m aware the rats are there and I don’t let them go in.
“I don’t know how you would eradicate them, apart from just making people aware with signs so parents know.”
One mum adopted a more philosophical approach. “Rats are everywhere,” she said. “There’s a risk with everything. Animals live everywhere – should we just kill more animals?
“How would you get rid of them otherwise?”
A spokeswoman for the council said the area had been treated for rodents several times over the past two years.
“We will arrange for pest control to return and inspect the green, and place rodenticide where it’s safe to do so,” she added.
“We strongly advise parents to keep an eye on their children at all times and ensure they only drink from safe water sources.”