RESIDENTS at one of Oxford’s newest housing blocks say their homes have been infested by rats.

The £6.2m Cardinal House scheme opened in June 2011 after the Homes and Communities Agency gave Oxford City Council a £1.25m grant.

Twenty new sheltered housing units were built and 33 one and two-bedroom flats were refurbished at the complex in Cardinal Close, Littlemore.

But the block for the elderly has suffered a problem with vermin.

Chairman of the residents’ association John Hume, 62, a former musician who has lived at Cardinal House since 2011, said: “This is very concerning and I know 17 residents who have contacted the council to complain.

“Before Christmas a man in one of the flats saw a rat run out from behind his TV.

“Council staff have been working to fix the problem and have filled in a number of holes in the walls with expandable foam.”

Labour city councillor for Littlemore Gill Sanders said: “Residents first complained just before Christmas and pest control officers were made aware of the problem on January 4.

“It was first thought the drains were the problem and a drain survey was carried out to identify any defects. Once pest control officers were made aware of the situation they acted swiftly.

“Some residents are elderly and frail and confined to bed and naturally they are concerned about this kind of infestation. There has been evidence of some pipework being damaged by rats.”

Oxford City Council spokes-woman Louisa Dean claimed only three residents had contacted the council to complain, and added that council staff visited them before Christmas.

She said: “We can assure residents that we are giving a high priority to addressing the problem and anticipate that the problem will soon be fully resolved.”

Requests to the council for staff to tackle rats has fallen from 2,432 in 2007/2008 to 914 in 2011/2012.

However, the council has not provided a monthly breakdown of figures for last year, to indicate whether or not flooding last month and in November led to a rise in call-outs.

So far this financial year, which started last April, there have been 709 call-outs.