Council called out 857 times over rat issues

COUNCIL workmen were called out 857 times in the space of a year to deal with rats according to a new survey.

Hastings Borough Council had the 34th highest rate of call outs out of the 314 English local authorities surveyed.

The survey was conducted by the British Pest Control Association which analysed demand for pest control across all local authorities in the UK from April 2010 to April 2011.

The authority dealt with 14.25 general pest problems per 1,000 residents over the 12 month period – the 86th highest figure out of all 314 English local authorities.

There were 48 issues with bedbugs and six cockroach call outs.

The not-for-profit association sent Freedom of Information Act requests to all district, borough and unitary authorities asking for service demand figures.

Every council responded.

Pests covered by the data include rats, mice, bedbugs, cockroaches, wasps, ants and birds.

Simon Forrester, chief executive at the BPCA, said: “This is the most comprehensive study of the demand placed on local authorities for pest control ever carried out and it covers a period when the austerity measures were starting to bite.

“There may be a number of local factors why a council appears towards the top of one of the lists, but on a national scale the BPCA is concerned that pest control budgets are being hit. That may make it harder for councils in England to respond as effectively as they would like which could have implications for both quality of life and public health.

“Subsequent surveys will allow us to identify new threats and gauge cutbacks.”

Mike Hepworth, head of the council’s environmental services, said: “The data they are presenting doesn’t necessarily indicate that a particular Council has more or less of a pest problem than another council.

“Despite the national economic pressures referred to by the BPCA, Hastings Borough Council continues to provide a good pest control service focussed on helping residents deal with common pests such as rats and mice.

“This service has not been cut back in recent years and provides a wide range of treatments.”