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Pest control ‘essential’ for public health

Corin Williams05/06/2013 - 13:00

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Councils are cutting back on pest control
Councils are cutting back on pest control

A public survey carried out by the CIEH has revealed widespread support for local authority pest control services, as budgets are cut back.

The survey of 12 local authority areas in the north, the midlands and the south-west of England looked at public perceptions of pest control services.

Eighty-six per cent of respondents said their pest control department was an ‘important part of public health protection’.

The majority – 64 per cent – said the responsibility for ridding an area of pests should be down to the local authority.

But less than half – 44 per cent – said they thought their council should pay to deal with infestations. Thirty-four per cent said they were not willing to pay for treatments to get rid of rodents and 25 per cent said they would not pay for insect treatments.

Although councils have a legal obligation to keep their district free from rats and mice under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, there is no statutory duty to provide pest control services themselves.

As a result many authorities have out-sourced or disbanded in-house pest management services to make cost savings. The CIEH warned the reduction of in-house pest control services is leading to a loss of expert local knowledge, and increases the risk to public health.

A CIEH spokesperson said: ‘Many local authorities are struggling to maintain their statutory functions with pest liaison groups across the country reporting pest management services being cut.

‘The public seem to be unaware of the reductions in pest management services that are taking place. This means those who are most vulnerable, or least able to deal with pests, may suffer.

‘The move towards a re-active service is not part of the bigger environmental health picture. Now pest infestations have the potential to increase, thus resulting in a greater risk to public health from pest-borne diseases.’

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