Hundreds complain of town's 'cat smell'

4:06pm Friday 4th June 2010

By Sam Mcgregor

Residents in part of Banbury who are fed up of living with a smell which reminds them of cat urine are being invited to a public meeting.

About 600 households on the east side of Grimsbury are affected by the odour.

Many have complained to Cherwell District Council, claiming that the smell is being generated by paint manufacturing firm Paintbox, in Middleton Close.

The company insisted it had carried out an investigation and added there were a number of industrial units which could be causing smells.

The town’s MP Tony Baldry will host a public meeting about the problem at Grimsbury Community Hall, in Burchester Place, at 8pm on Thursday.

District council environmental health officers and the directors of Paintbox have been invited.

David Driscoll, 58, of Brinkburn Grove, said: “Every time we get an east wind, we get the stink.

“We started complaining six or seven years ago. We can’t go into our garden at all. If we try and sit out and have a drink you can taste it in the air. The smell is like car spray paint, other people say cat pee.”

He said both he and his wife had suffered headaches and sore throats and feared it could be linked to the fumes.

Neighbour Peter Spackman, 63, who has lived in Brinkburn Grove for 17 years, said: “The smell is extremely strong.”

Town and district councillor Ann Bonner said: “It’s something that needs to be tackled and tackled forthwith.

“As you approach Banbury along the M40, from about a mile away, if the wind is in the right direction, you can smell a pungent odour.

“As the local elected members, we want to give the best impression of the town, but when you turn off junction 11 what do they smell – cat pee.”

Niki Smith, a receptionist at Holiday Inn Express, in Ermont Way, said: “I think it smells like rotten eggs.”

A spokesman for Paintbox said the company was aware of the complaints to the council, but added that the company was committed to the town and its employees and had a core responsibility to the environment.

He added: “The Banbury facility uses world class abatement technology and operates under very strict controls.

“The company has carried out a comprehensive and detailed investigation, including employing an independent organisation to analyse potential sources of odour, as well as co-operating fully with Cherwell District Council.

“All of the materials used at the Paintbox site are widely used within industry and readily available for public use.

“While Paintbox is committed to making sure that all emissions generated from the Banbury site are strictly controlled, it must be said that the environment around Banbury has proven to be a significant challenge in identifying specific smells.

“As anyone who lives in Banbury will recognise, there are a number of industrial facilities, contributing numerous odours.”

James Macnamara, the district council’s executive member for resources, said: “It has been acknowledged by all concerned that there’s a problem and we’re working very closely with the company to find a long-term solution.”

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