Is Wrexham suffering a plague of rats?

Reporter:

Matt Sims

PEST control teams in Wrexham were called out more than once a day to deal with rat infestations in the county last year.

New figures reveal officers attended different addresses 403 times in 2009 – up from 312 in 2008.

And in 2010 the figures show no sign of falling – there were 243 call outs up to the end of July.

In the past three years the biggest number of call-outs were to the Caia Park area, closely followed by Rhos, Cefn and Gwersyllt.

And a former Wrexham Council pest controller says the number of rats increased after fortnightly bin collections were introduced.

The pest controller added that this year he has seen an increase in call outs to deal with rats at businesses.

In June classes at St Mary’s Primary School in Brymbo had to close following an infestation.

The figures – which do not include any revisits – were released to the Leader under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 following a Freedom of
Information request.

Pest control teams were called to Caia Park 41 times in 2009 compared to 32 in 2008.

And there were 37 visits to the Rhos area last year compared to 29 in the previous 12 months.

The areas of Cefn and Gwersyllt also saw increases in the number of call outs in 2009.

The total figure for the county is very similar to 2007 when officers were called out 412 times. That fell by 100 in 2008 before increasing again last year.

Owners or tenants of private residential properties must pay a fee of £10.70 to call out a local authority pest control team though the service is free to council tenants.

Owners of commercial properties must pay considerably more.

There are believed to be some 80 million rats in Britain and the animals can carry salmonella, Weil’s disease and e-coli.

Jonathan Pearson, of Pest Solutions, which covers the Wrexham and Chester area, worked for Wrexham Council for four years.

He said the number of call outs to deal with vermin increased once fortnightly bin collections replaced weekly visits.

He said: “It was about three and a half years ago – the number of times we were going out increased then.

“Also in council houses you found there were more broken drains, which made it easier for rats to get into lofts.”

He added that recently he had been called to businesses to deal with rats.

Speaking about what people can do to avoid encouraging the vermin he said: “The
main problem is food in the gardens. If you leave food outside you are going to get
rats.

“You have also got to go around buildings and make sure pipes are not exposed and that tree branches are not touching roofs.”

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has already spoken of his opposition to fortnightly bin collections, branding them “unhygienic”.

He has written to the Audit Commission ordering them to reverse policy released in February which gave councils the green light to collect rubbish fortnightly.

A Wrexham Council spokesman said the local authority had increased the amount of enforcement action in removing rubbish on land and in gardens.

She said: “Seasonal fluctuations of rodent populations, type of pesticides used and periodic increases in service charges may also impact on the number of rodent complaints made to the public protection service.”

She said claims call-outs increased when fortnightly bin collections increased were an “urban myth” and nothing more.

She added: “There is no evidence to suggest there is a rat infestation that is ‘out of
control’ anywhere in the county borough.”

See full story in the Leader

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