Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 17:20 UK

Rats fear amid bin strike backlog

Sean McClean explains why the increase in rats is likely

Overflowing rubbish left uncollected during the city's bin strike could lead to an explosion in the rat population, a pest control expert has warned.

Sean McClean from Key West Pest Control said the mounting waste provided a steady food supply, which would boost rats' breeding potential.

"I would expect the population boom to come in about 12 to 15 weeks," he said.

Union and council officials have started official talks in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

'Ideal conditions'

Mr McClean said the extra food allowed rats to rear as many as 10 babies, which would be sexually mature in three months.

"It's a cycle that accelerates extremely quickly.

"The rubbish that's built up is just providing ideal breeding conditions for them.

"Once all the rubbish has gone, the process is already started."

Union and council representatives met for formal talks on Monday and said they would continue their negotiations on Tuesday.

They agreed to meet in an effort to resolve the dispute, which centres on a new pay system.

The decision came after informal meetings between refuse collectors and council staff last week.

The council said the joint agreement to hold talks was a "very positive sign".

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