Rat catching policy saves Waveney �80k a year

A controversial pest control policy has saved a council almost �80,000 a year.

The decision to stop providing a free rat catching and pest service prompted a wave of complaints and concern over public health when it was introduced by Waveney District Council back in 2008, but three years on council officers have concluded the new approach has not led to more rat infestations, has not impeded public health and provides better value for money for tax-payers.

The in-house service cost �84,157 in 2007/08, compared to �4,500 in the past 12 months (2010/11).

Reports of rat infestations reported to the council has also dropped significantly; in 2007/08 the council's in-house service received 872 calls, while the company now contracted to carry out control on behalf of the authority received 90 calls in 2010/11.

In the report on pest control services, which was due to be discussed by Waveney councillors at a scrutiny meeting last night, officers say that residents referred to Command Pest Control, a Sudbury-based company that covers the whole of East Anglia, 'have become accustomed to the idea of paying' and often call up for free advice.

If a resident calls Waveney about a rat or insect infestation, the policy is to direct them straight to Command Pest Control. There is a subsidy available to residents who meet certain critera, such as receiving benefits.

In the past year, the council once waived its own policy and provided free treatment to a resident living next to school that was infested by rats. The school - which has not been named - had a persisant problem with rodents in the school grounds.

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While the school paid for a pest control company to come out, it was a neighbouring resident who reported the problem to the council and, as they would have qualified for a subsidised service, treatment was carried out for free.

Peter Meaney, senior manager at Command Pest Control, said the preferred contractor arrangement was working and the company was happy to continue offering free advice to residents to call.

Waveney, meanwhile, remains responsible for clearing pests on council-owned land and property.