Call-out bugbear

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WIGAN pest controllers have more call-outs to tackle creepy-crawlies and vermin than almost anywhere else in the country.

Council experts dealt with 26.35 pest problems per 1,000 residents over a year – the 10th highest figure out of all 314 English local authorities.

The data comes from the first British Pest Control Association National Survey, which analysed demand for pest control across all 393 local authorities in the UK over a 12-month period.

The survey shows that Wigan Council was called out a total of 2,577 times over the period to alleviate problems with rats – equating to 8.38 demands for service per 1,000 residents and ranking 47 out of 314 in England.

There were 24 issues with bed bugs, equating to 0.08 per 1,000 and ranking 148th equal, while there were 12 cockroach call-outs – placing Wigan 105th equal in the English per 1,000 table with a figure of 0.04.

The not-for-profit British Pest Control Association (BPCA) sent Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests to all district, borough and unitary authorities asking for service demand figures for the 12 months to April 2011. Every council responded. Pests covered by the data include rats, mice, bedbugs, cockroaches, wasps, ants and birds.

Simon Forrester, chief executive at the BPCA, said: “This is the most comprehensive study of the demand placed on local authorities for pest control ever carried out and it covers a period when the austerity measures were starting to bite.

“There may be a number of local factors why a council appears towards the top of one of the lists, but on a national scale the BPCA is concerned that pest control budgets are being hit.

“That may make it harder for councils in England to respond as effectively as they would like, which could have implications for both quality of life and public health. Authorities are reducing manpower and looking at new ways of dealing with pests. We would urge councils thinking of outsourcing services to use BPCA members – potential public health problems need to be dealt with by professionals, and failing to tackle an infestation properly leads to additional expense and resident dissatisfaction.”

Mr Forrester added: “This first British Pest Control Association National Survey provides incredibly valuable baseline data. Subsequent surveys will allow us to plot trends, to identify new threats and to gauge how cutbacks are affecting such a vital public health service.”