Council to outsource rat control

Infested Waveney households will be charged for rat exterminations after councillors agreed to hand the service over to a private pest-control company.

Infested Waveney households will be charged for rat exterminations after councillors agreed to hand the service over to a private pest-control company.

The cost-cutting plan, which could save the council £60,000 a year, spells the end of the current in-house service, which deals with the rodents free of charge.

From next March, a commercial operator will handle all pest control in the district, with people on income support or disability benefits given a concessionary discount of £20.

The change of policy marks the first service to be outsourced as part of Waveney District Council's "enabling" agenda to work in partnership with private companies to improve services and reduce the authority's spending.


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Council leader Mark Bee said a commercial pest company would offer a wider service and could offer cheaper prices for the control of pests like wasps, fleas and mice, which are currently charged for by Waveney's pest control team.

"We are not abdicating our responsibilities," he said. "Clearly we still have an obligation to maintain public health and we still have enforcement powers, but we don't need to carry out these services ourselves.

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"We will still deal with inquiries, but hand them to a private company who already operate in this area, with many more specialised staff who can provide a better service than we could with our hardworking, but small, team. It means we can provide better value and improved services."

Councillors agreed the changes to the pest control service at Waveney's executive committee meeting on Thursday.

Initial concerns were raised that the introduction of charges would lead to fewer reports of rats and an increase in the district's pest population.

But a report to the council's environment and regeneration scrutiny panel last month said this had not been the case with other authorities in the region who had taken the same decision.

At the panel's meeting last month, Labour group leader Sally Spore was the only councillor to vote against the recommendations.

Cllr Spore said: "In terms of the enabling agenda we said we would take each service on its merits and consider if it was in the best interest of the public for services to be made in a particular way.

"In this case, it is a public health issue and I don't feel savings should be made on this particular service."

Enforcement powers will stay within the environmental health department and the council will still be responsible for rodent control on its own land.

Council home tenants will be required to pay the full or concessionary cost for rat treatments in most cases.

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