Hampshire councils win praise for keeping on top of all those household pests

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COUNCILS have been praised for the way they deal with rats, cockroaches and bed bugs.

A survey has shown local authority cuts have not affected the way councils in the area deal with pest control.

Research by the British Pest Control Association reveals Portsmouth City Council was called out 4,384 times to treat rats, mice, bed bugs, fleas, wasp and cockroach infestations in the 11 months to April 2011.

In the same period there were 2,227 call outs in Havant making it 41st highest out of all 314 English local authorities.

While all councils in the area offer free rat control, only Havant gets rid of bed bugs and cockroaches for free.

Gosport Borough Council charges £105 to get rid of bed bugs and £61 for all other insects.

It went to 1,078 call outs in the same period.

Fareham Borough Council was called out 930 times.

Simon Forrester, chief executive of the British Pest Control Association, said: ‘The more call outs, the more responsive the local authority.

‘Pest numbers don’t vary dramatically except in urban and rural areas.

‘You get more bed bugs and more transfer of those pests in urban areas.

‘Rat and mouse numbers will be up in overcrowded areas where there is more rubbish lying around.

‘The higher number of call-outs is probably a sign of efficiency rather than higher pest numbers.

‘It’s very encouraging to see those authorities taking pest control seriously and they have not cut back despite many having done so.’

Richard Lee, environmental health manager at Portsmouth, said: ‘We have not had any cutbacks in pest control – we’ve been very fortunate.

‘We’re coping well in regard to demand.

‘Currently, we have four operatives who operate on a district system and when people call our city help desk we are able to respond very, very quickly, within a day or so.’

Stuart Wedgbury, environmental health service manager at Havant, said: ‘The number of call outs for rats per population appear high in the ranking list for a number of reasons – the quality of our service is highly respected and residents trust us to deal with issues properly.

‘We are also able to offer free treatments for our residents and there is always a high demand for these services. The fact that a significant part of Havant is built up also tends to lead to a higher number of reports of rat problems, but these numbers have shown a slight decrease over the last three years.’

The figures were gathered via freedom of information requests to all local authorities and do not include private contractors.