A BETTING shop was forced to call in pest control after being infested with rats.

Customers and staff at Betfred in Winter Hey Lane, Horwich, saw live rodents in the shop and it is understood that dead rats, which caused a stench and attracted flies and maggots, were discovered in the ceiling and under the floorboards.

Environmental Health officers visited the premises on Monday, after concerned customers made complaints and found several dead rats.

Customer Ian Thompson, a 37- year-old lorry driver from Horwich, said: “As you walked through the door, the smell knocked you out. It was disgusting.

“It had been going on for more than a week and clearly the staff were upset working in those conditions.”

A spokesman for Betfred said: “The problems we have encountered in the Winter Hey Lane shop have been challenging for all concerned.

“We apologise to our customers for the conditions they have had to tolerate and we are very grateful to our staff for their patience and perseverance during this difficult time.

“We have taken the matter extremely seriously and have done everything in our power to resolve it as quickly as possible.

“A pest control company and our maintenance company have taken every measure to ensure the problem has been eradicated and a commercial cleaning company has been hired to wash down the entire shop.

“The pest control company will conduct checks on alternate days until the problem has been completely resolved.”

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “One of our health and safety inspectors visited the premises on Monday and found several dead rats.

“A pest control company had already been engaged by the bookmakers to set traps for the rats and we requested that they were called back to dispose of the bodies.

“We understand that all dead rats have now been removed from the premises, but we will continue to work with the bookmakers and to monitor the situation in the future.”

Environmental Health officers have also visited neighbouring properties, but did not find any evidence of problems with rats.