Wolverhampton could be plagued by rats after pest budget is slashed, campaigners warn
A plague of rats could soon invade Wolverhampton, campaigners say, after new figures revealed the budget for city pest control has been reduced by 70 per cent.
Warnings are now being issued to locals about the possible onslaught of rats, mice, and wasps – as more cuts are being made year on year.
A Liberal Democrat campaigner said the action had ‘hurt the poorest’ people in the city.
New data, released under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that while the council has kept the service in house since 2013, the budget for pest control has been cut substantially.
In 2016/17, it had 947 requests for help with infestations - 409 pest control requests for rats, 231 for mice and 307 for wasps.
Yet the pest control budget went down from £12,180 in 2013/14 to £3,650 in 2016/17, a cut of 70 per cent. The council claim it had to cut the budget as there was ‘no statutory duty to provide any form of pest control service’.
In the past, members of the public have been able to call out pest control officers from the council for free assessments.
In 2014 the cuts saved the council £25,000 knowing, according to their own report, that they ‘would not be able to assist the most deprived or those in poverty’.
The report went on to say: ‘Certain pests carry infectious disease. The proposal would lead to less pest treatment and therefore more pests. There is a link between mental health and wellbeing of an individual and the quality of the environment in which they live.
‘The proposal has potential implications for the council’s policy of protecting the most vulnerable people in society.’
Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Machnik-Foster said: “This Labour council has slashed services, hurt the poorest and now we face a rat plague in the city. This infestation comes after the council decided to slash this vital budget hoping no-one would notice. Nearly a thousand people have got in touch with the council. What needs to change to make them change their mind, super rats running across the council leaders desk? If that happened the budget will be instantly topped up, sadly, now, the poorest have to live alongside pests.
Cabinet member Councillor Milkinderpal Jaspal said: “Wolverhampton has gone the extra mile to protect services beyond its statutory duties, but the cuts by central government are bound to reduce some of those services.
“I don’t think pest control is something that just happens to the working class. It’s right across the board.”