Agenda item

Pest Control Service - Update


            The Board considered a report of the Director of Public Health which provided an update on the Council’s pest control service and a rationale for maintaining free rat treatments for all residents. The report outlined the number of staff within the team, the service provided and current pest treatment charges with income generated over the last 10 years.


            In respect of charges for rat treatments, details were provided for fees charged by the Liverpool City Region and Cheshire Local Authorities. At present treatment of rats was provided to residents free of charge in Halton. However, in recent months some members had suggested that a charge should be introduced for all rat treatments to help to subsidise the service further and make it more sustainable over the longer term.


            Members were advised on the potential net income, against a likely drop in demand for the service should a charge be introduced. The report also discussed the impact of a charge on low income groups and the practicalities of introducing some form of means test to offset this. Further concerns about introducing a charge included:


·         Rat activity was likely to increase;


  • Many people who experienced rat activity on their property view the activity as a wider environmental problem caused by conditions beyond their own property. They would therefore be reluctant to pay for something they don’t perceive to be their responsibility;


  • Other local authorities who had introduced a charge suggested that members of the public delay reporting rats until the problem had got out of hand and was affecting a wider area. This was likely to require the input of the Environmental Protection Team to take action against the landowners to enforce the provisions of the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949. Such action was costly and time consuming and represented a further hidden cost to a charging regime;


  • The information received through requests for free treatments enabled the Environmental Health team to locate trends across the Borough. A reduction in notifications means the Environmental Health team may be slower to identify and respond to these issues; and


  • The council placed bait in secure locations so that it cannot be tampered with by children or animals. Therefore the council do not place bait on open land or public areas.


            Due to these concerns it was noted that it was the view of the Environmental Health Department that introducing a charge for rat treatments would be counterproductive. Whilst this would significantly reduce demand for the service and make service volumes more manageable, it would have the unintended consequence of increasing rat activity in the borough by reducing the number of pro-active rat treatments that were carried out.


            Furthermore, the control of the rat population was a wider environmental concern that would be best addressed collectively through a universal service rather than on an individual basis by providing a service only to those or willing or able to pay for it.


            RESOLVED: That the Board supports the maintenance of free rat treatments for all Halton residents.

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