RESIDENTS in a Johnstone housing estate have pleaded for tough action on fly-tippers after claiming the rubbish they have left behind has led to a rat infestation.

Tenants in Howwood Road blame the problem on derelict land across from their properties which has become a dumping ground.

In some cases, live rats have been found in the lofts of their homes and dead ones in their gardens.

Locals say a dispute over ownership of the land between Renfrewshire Council and construction giants Barratt means no-one has taken responsibility for keeping the site clear of rubbish.

They believe the rats have been attracted by bin bags full of discarded food which are being dumped there.

The site has lain empty for 14 years, since two primary schools – St David’s and Cochrane Castle – were knocked down.

Kerry McMillan, 35, treasurer of the Howwood Road Tenants and Residents Association, told The Gazette: “We first saw the rats about a year ago but the problem has got worse in the last month.

“We’ve asked the council to remove the rubbish but they claim the land is private. However, Barratt have told us it doesn’t belong to them.”

Mum-of-three Kerry said fly-tippers turn up in vans and cars every day to dump rubbish such as old beds, doors, clothes, mattresses and food waste.

The Gazette: Fly-tipping at the site where St David’s Primary and Cochrane Castle Primary once stood has left local residents disgustedFly-tipping at the site where St David’s Primary and Cochrane Castle Primary once stood has left local residents disgusted

She added: “The former school site has been used for years for fly-tipping, particularly by people doing house clearances.

“Local people have seen rats in their properties, running about their gardens, when they go to work in the morning and when they go to the local shops.

“They’ve had to call in council pest control officers to put down poison to kill them.”

Councillor John Hood, who represents the area, is hoping a solution can be found.

He said: “Something needs to be done to bring the rat problem under control.

“I would also like to see fly-tippers being prosecuted by the council and the police as far as the law will allow.”

David Scott, managing director of Barratt West Scotland, said: “We’re aware of this site, as we had shown interest in it some time ago. We can confirm it is not under the ownership of Barratt Developments.”

Council chiefs have urged residents to report any incidents of fly-tipping.

A spokesperson said: “We are working with the Tenants and Residents Association to tackle the issue at this location, including removing any reported fly-tipping.

“We will continue to assist with the removal of fly-tipped items and by deploying extra litter picking resources to the area when possible.”

READ MORE: Residents slam ‘dumb dumpers’ responsible for fly-tipping problem