Fears as pest con­trol ser­vice faces the axe

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE ROPER

FEARS have been raised af­ter pro­pos­als were put for­ward to scrap the coun­cil’s pest con­trol ser­vice.

Cheshire East Coun­cil bosses have been asked to con­sider clos­ing down or re­duc­ing the ser­vice in or­der to save £60,000 from its bud­get.

If the ser­vices are re­duced – as rec­om­mended by coun­cil of­fi­cers – all pest con­trol ser­vices apart from ro­dent con­trol would be re­moved and the £10 charge for the treat­ment of rats in do­mes­tic premises would quadru­ple to £40, with a con­ces­sion­ary charge of £20 for those on in­come re­lated ben­e­fits. It would also re­sult in two re­dun­dan­cies from a team of five. How­ever a third op­tion has also been put for­ward for the ser­vice to re­main as it is.

A coun­cil­lor has warned the town could re­turn to the ‘slum con­di­tions of Vic­to­rian times’ if the ser­vice is scrapped.

Janet Jack­son, Labour coun­cil­lor for Mac­cles­field Cen­tral ward, said: “I’m re­ally con­cerned about the job losses – it is just another coun­cil ser­vices cut lead­ing to a staff cut. I don’t think pest con­trol is a ser­vice that should be cut, ver­min is a se­ri­ous prob­lem.”

She added: “A lot of peo­ple may not qual­ify for ben­e­fits but are still count­ing ev­ery penny and may not re­port a prob­lem if they are fright­ened of the cost. And if it’s not re­ported, the in­fes­ta­tion could spread and cause prob­lems for neigh­bours.

“I am wor­ried this would lead us back to the dread­ful slum con­di­tions of Vic­to­rian times.”

David Kent, sec­re­tary of Chelford Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “Most of the peo­ple in our area are pen­sion­ers on lim­ited in­comes and to sud­denly find the price has dou­bled is not very re­spon­si­ble.”

Craig Ni­chol­son, branch sec­re­tary for public ser­vice union Uni­son in Cheshire East, said: “I think when peo­ple are strug­gling eco­nom­i­cally it’s a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion.

“We never like to see job losses but at some point we have to look at other op­tions be­cause of the cost.”

Coun­cil­lor Les Gil­bert, cab­i­net mem­ber for com­mu­ni­ties, said: “We take our du­ties on pest con­trol very se­ri­ously and will con­tinue to do so.

“How­ever, we also have to con­sider whether we can jus­tify the cost of our ex­ist­ing in-house ser­vice for the treat­ment of some pests when this ser­vice is of­fered by the pri­vate sec­tor. If we opt to re­duce the ser­vice, we will re­main com­mit­ted to tack­ling ro­dent in­fes­ta­tion through pro­vid­ing treat­ments and ex­er­cis­ing our en­force­ment pow­ers.”

The pro­pos­als will be dis­cussed at a coun­cil meet­ing for com­mu­ni­ties on Mon­day, July 13.

Matt Rat­cliffe

●● Andy Brooks in­side the for­mer fac­tory that he hopes to turn into a roller skat­ing rink, play cen­tre with climb­ing fa­cil­i­ties, multi-use sports area and com­mu­nity cen­tre

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