Birmingham postcode with 'rats as big as cats' and regular fly-tipping
Businesses in Birmingham's worst postcode for rodents say that "rats as big as cats" are plaguing the streets after dark.
In December, it was revealed that B8 was the undisputed hotspot for vermin.
The postcode - which contains the Washwood Heath, Ward End and Saltley areas - topped a council list for the highest number of pest control callouts. Now traders on the famous Alum Rock Road have shed some light on why.
Two businesses on the busy inner-city high street said they had experienced problems with missed bin collections as well as fly-tipping and people leaving waste in communal areas.
Mr Islam, who didn't want to use his first name, told how rats were a regular occurrence due to residential and commercial rubbish.
The manager of Munchies Takeaway & Desserts boasts a five-star food hygiene rating - but said this was becoming difficult to maintain through no fault of his own.
"When [the council] miss a collection we have a backlog of waste," he said. "They have just missed a week and our bins are still on the main road around the corner."
And it isn't just missed collections Mr Islam has to contend with. At the back of the shop, there was a gulley where residents had thrown their rubbish.
Some had left black bags lying out in the open while others had allegedly fly-tipped in commercial bins.
A huge dead rat straddled a Lucozade bottle in the grim gulley - and looked like it had been there a good while. Mr Islam said rodents were a regular sight - especially once the sun went down.
"We've got a high volume of rats in the area. You see them running around in the evenings when it gets dark and there are [fewer] people around. It's really bad around here.
"We're on a five-star rating but it's a risk sometimes. We wheel our bin into the yard on the collection date and people will come and start throwing their rubbish on top or next to it."
Birmingham City Council said Alum Rock Road and surrounding areas had seen investment to clean up the streets. And while Mr Islam said he understood the difficulties the local authority faced, he believed more education was needed.
"I've reported this," he said, showing the courtyard. "This drainage system is all blocked. Nothing gets done.
"Businesses have to have our certificates in place but most of this is residential. It's hard to keep a five-star rating. There's only so much you can do."
Another businessman, who ran a food establishment but asked not to be named, explained how people leaving their rubbish out in the open was leading to an enormous rat problem - in more ways than one.
"You can see there are lots of bin bags here," the man said as he pointed out onto the main road. "It's a big problem."
He added: "People are putting rubbish here and business is quiet. Decent people are not coming here because it's dirty.
"There are lots of problems and it has been like this for years. There are too many rats. If you come back at night they are very big. They look like cats."
When asked about the problem, the council's environment lead Majid Mahmood said some of the problems were down to the behaviour of a minority on the road. He said the council was determined to keep the area clean.
Mr Mahmood said: "Alum Rock is one of the priority areas for the wide range of street scene projects and initiatives that we have invested in over the last few years. [These include] the Mobile Household Recycling Centre (MHRC) service, Love Your Environment days and fly-tipping hotspot teams.
“Many of the issues in this area are the result of a small number of individuals and businesses who do not have respect for our shared environment. We can only achieve our common goal of a cleaner city if everyone does their bit and takes responsibility for their own area.
"It simply isn’t on when people dump waste in alleyways or on other pieces of land because that diverts our precious resources from other essential activities.
"The data from our MHRC service shows that people in Alum Rock are determined to keep their area clean - with tonnages of waste collected from visits to the area consistently near the top of the citywide lists."
"It’s a similar position during the Love Your Environment days in which our dedicated and committed staff are picking up significant volumes of litter and fly-tipping.”