Plan for £52.50 fee to get rid of pests
Residents in Wolverhampton will be charged £52.50 to get rid of mice, rats, cockroaches and bedbugs as a result of proposed spending cuts.
The service is currently free. Earlier this year a charge was introduced to get rid of flees. The council already charges for removing wasp and ant nests.
Wolverhampton City Council will also be scrapping free bulky waste collections for people on benefits.
Instead it will impose a £9.20 fee for people on benefits who want to get rid of mattresses, beds, settees and furniture if savings plans go ahead. Everyone else will continue to pay £18.30. The pest control plan would save £28,000 a year but has sparked condemnation from the opposition Conservative group which has raised concerns that vermin will be able to breed because people will not be able to afford the charge.
Council documents predict a 50 per cent fall in requests for the service as a result of the charge, which will not apply to people in receipt of council tax support.
It comes as the council's Labour-controlled cabinet approved seeking £56.5 million of cuts over the next five years at a meeting last night. The cabinet voted to go out to consultation on the proposals before deciding on whether to carry them through.
Other measures include passing on a cut in government funding for council tax benefits to 20,300 people, who will have to find up to £200 a year.
The council is also set to slash the frequency of cleaning in residential streets from every six weeks to every 12.
Conservative group leader Councillor Neville Patten said: "Charging for pest control means that pests will have an environment to proliferate in.
"This will be bad for the image of Wolverhampton."
Labour finance chief Councillor Andrew Johnson said: "These are proposals to take out to consultation. The Government keeps moving the goal posts in its cuts to council funding.
"When we last reported on this in July we had a deficit of £6.29m. It is now three times that. This is a real attempt to deal with an adverse financial position."
The draft budget strategy warns councillors that the introduction of the pest control charges "may deter residents from reporting infestations" and adds: "This would then lead to reduced treatments and a visible increase in pests such as rodents, cockroaches, bedbugs which are currently treated free of charge." It also warns that an increase in pests could impact upon the "re-invigoration of the city and the ability to attract new businesses" to the city.