Reports of rats to Breckland Council are on the rise

Rats are causing problems down by the River and near a cafe In Thetford.Picture by: Sonya Duncan

Rats are causing problems down by the River and near a cafe In Thetford.Picture by: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Complaints about rats to a district council service have doubled since it axed its pest control service.

Breckland Council's environmental health service received 84 nuisance complaints about the rodents in the year 2015/16, up from 38 complaints in 2013/14, the year the council decided to cut its in-house pest control provision.

And local pest control firms have reported that sales of pest control products had risen recently as people attempted to take the problem into their own hands.

In the last year of offering the service, the council received 534 treatment requests for rats and mice and 305 request for insects.

Terry Jermy, Thetford Town and Breckland District councillor, said: 'Pest control is a service that most people would expect their district council to provide. There is a public health duty that Breckland should be providing which they are not and myself and others raised concerns when the service was cut.

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'It is a relatively small amount of money that they saved by cutting it, but at what cost?

'A lot of people have been concerned about siting of rats and mice and I suspect over the summer months we will notice that again.

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'There is a big cost to public confidence in the system to deal with the problem. There are actually very few pest control service providers so there can be quite a wait for it.'

Richard Pummell, of Express Pest Control in Great Hockham, said: 'Recently more people have been trying to deal with this themselves because Breckland don't offer the service anymore.

'I've been receiving more calls after people have tried to sort it out themselves and it hasn't worked.

'Larger firms can only cope with so much, so the work has spilled out into companies like mine.'

A spokesman for Breckland Council said the increased number of complaints was due to a number of reasons.

'The increase in numbers of reported incidents may be down to increased numbers of pests due to milder winters recently, which have not naturally reduced pest numbers.

'Perhaps also pests are finding it easier to find food (eg. from food put out for birds).

'The rise could also be down to how complaints are managed and recorded. Previously, when a pest treatment service was offered, complaints were raised directly with the council's pest treatment contractor. Now, all complaints are raised directly with the council,' he said.

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