Waste firm Abacus says it's not cause of rat problem, and blames Bristol fruit market for 'inadequate' pest control
A WASTE station director has hit back at comments by the chairman of a fruit market who blamed a rat infestation on the "waste village" he says surrounds its operation.
The Post reported earlier this month that Robert Smith claimed councillors ignored objections to waste stations being allowed on land bordering the Bristol Wholesale Fruit Centre in Albert Crescent, St Philip's.
The market supplies fresh fruit and vegetables to 7.5 million people across the South West and Wales.
Mr Smith said his "worst fears were realised" when a huge number of rats hit the market and said a repeat occurrence could jeopardise livelihoods.
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But Simon Beacham, a director at Abacus Waste Management, claimed Mr Smith's comments were a "smokescreen" to hide his business's poor vermin management and said he resented any suggestion his company was at fault.
He told The Post: "What he was saying was just not accurate – in fact some of it was wholly inaccurate.
"The rat infestation was a result of the closure of the SITA waste transfer site that processed food waste.
"We were visited by environmental health and they did not think we had an excessive infestation here. We have an ongoing pest control contract we had put in place. We do not and are not licensed to receive food waste and operate mainly in stone, soil and mixed construction waste.
"Throwing accusations at us and other waste stations is a smokescreen to cover their woefully inadequate procedures they have in place to deal with vermin."
Mr Beacham also objected to comments made by Darren Gaulton, the managing director of Charles Saunders Limited, a fresh and frozen fish market which also operates nearby.
Mr Gaulton had said he was worried about rocks falling off skips being driven down the road
"There is a nursery up the road and a lot of mothers and children use the road," Mr Gaulton had said.
"You wonder if someone needs to get hurt for the council to take it seriously. It causes a massive amount of commercial traffic along the road which makes congestion quite bad."
He added commercial lorries may be better off in Avonmouth where there were fewer residents.
But Mr Beacham claimed Charles Saunders had significantly outgrown its premises on Albert Road and illegally park articulated vehicles on the road, impeding his business.
"Charles Saunders has outgrown its premises which means it requires articulated lorries to go in and out of the site," Mr Beacham said. "Because businesses such as ours go about their business, it means they can't use the road as a car park."
Speaking on behalf of the market director, Tim Down said Mr Beacham's comments were "ridiculous".
"We have a fully audited pest control system and we can show through our records we have no ongoing rat infestation and that it is caused by the proximity of waste compounds," Mr Down said.
"It's ridiculous for Abacus to say that. We were here a long time before Abacus and it is quite grotesque that the city council allowed these businesses to grow up alongside what is acknowledged by the council as a strategic resource."
Mr Gaulton, managing director of Charles Saunders Limited, declined to comment.