The fee for Test Valley’s rat-catching service has has been increased by 50%. At the same time the number of people in the Test Valley area able to access the free Council rat-catching service has been drastically cut.
The decision was taken at a secret session of the Council’s Conservative Cabinet.
At present, Test Valley Borough Council, which employs three full-time pest control officers, offers a free of charge service for families with small children, residents who live adjacent to rodent invested open land not in their ownership, residents with a disability and residents in receipt of means tested benefits. The vast majority of call outs fall into one of these categories. The charge, which is currently £40 for the remaining residents, covers a maximum of three visits to each affected premises.
But Test Valley’s Cabinet, meeting on Wednesday 16th February 2011, went into the secret session to decide that the £40 charge for rats and mice control should to be raised to £60, an increase of 50%. The Cabinet also decreed that the service will only be free to those people who are on Council Tax or Housing Benefit.
“It is acknowledged that Test Valley has an effective pest control department and even at the new pricing levels is competitive with the private sector”, says Romsey Councillor, Mark Cooper. “But to extend charging to a much wider proportion of local residents who have become used to the free service and then to increase the charge from £40 to £60 is a huge imposition on people who are already paying a huge amount of Council Tax. It’s a double whammy for residents. Services at County level are being cut; service charges at Borough level are being increased hugely above the inflation rate”.
“Such a large rise will reduce the public’s willingness to call out the pest-controllers and that could then result in run away numbers of rats especially if there’s a warm summer”.
Fees for other pest control services increase by similar amounts. Flea treatment for a 4-bed property is to increase from £53 to £70 and bedbug treatment from £53 to £85.
“The fact that these fee extensions and increases were dealt with in secret session suggests that TVBC was trying to get the increases in under the radar. They hoped no one would notice”.