Portsmouth man refused to pay rates over rat row

From left, Mike Woods, Aaron Keane, Nigel Freshwater, and Gary Shipp say there was a rat problem
From left, Mike Woods, Aaron Keane, Nigel Freshwater, and Gary Shipp say there was a rat problem

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ANGRY Aaron Keane has lost a court battle after refusing to pay his council tax over a rat infestation in his home.

The 37-year-old stopped paying Portsmouth City Council when he returned from hospital to find rats running amok in his Tipner home.

The builder blames the authority, saying it did not put in adequate pest control when building the park-and-ride. And many of his neighbours are supporting him.

He was ordered to pay up the £648 he owes despite appealing to magistrates.

Mr Keane, of Hillsdown Avenue, told Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court: ‘This has had a detrimental effect on my health.

‘My house had no kitchen or electrics from January when I came out of hospital to September 14 – my house was uninhabitable.

Aaron Keane with a dossier about the problem

Aaron Keane with a dossier about the problem

‘They say I have to pay for the council tax and all the damage to my house.

‘This has been going on for so long I’m at the end of my tether.’

Mr Keane came out of Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham after spending eight days recovering from injuries sustained in a van crash.

He also criticised Donna Jones, leader of the council, who he said had not returned his calls since becoming leader.

‘Miss Jones does not return any calls I make to her,’ added Mr Keane.

‘The council admitted no liability whatsoever – I’ve had nothing.’

Chairman of the magistrates Peter Burgess was told by the court legal adviser the rat infestation was a separate issue to the council tax.

He said: ‘We have to tread another path.

‘We gave you the opportunity to speak. This is not the forum for that.’

The council has admitted it did not put traps or poison down when laying the foundations for the park and ride in 2013.

Cllr Donna Jones said pest control had been out to Mr Keane’s home a number of times.

She added: ‘I condemn anybody that doesn’t pay their council tax.

‘Quite rightly we do take prosecutions against people for failure to pay. We don’t live in a country that’s a charity.’

She said her office had no outstanding correspondence to reply to.