Rat catching policy saves Waveney �80k a year

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to stop a free service dealing with rats, wasps and other pests in Waveney has saved the district council nearly �80,000-a-year, it emerged this week.

The council's decision to end the free in-house service, and replace it with one provided by a private company which charges customers, prompted a wave of complaints in 2008.

But three years on its officers have concluded the new approach has not led to more rat infestations, has not impeded public health and that it provides better value for money for tax-payers.

A report on pest control services, discussed by councillors at Tuesday's scrutiny meeting, shows the in-house service cost �84,157 in 2007/08, compared to �4,500 over the past 12 months.

Reports of rat infestations are also down; in 2007/08 the in-house service got 872 calls, while Command Pest Control, the Sudbury-based company now working on behalf of Waveney, received 90 in 2010/11.

Officers say people 'have become accustomed to the idea of paying' and often call 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 those who meet certain critera, such as receiving benefits.

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At only one point in the past year has the council 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.

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.

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