RESIDENTS in Bridgend county borough may soon be faced with fees for pest control services that include tackling rats and bedbugs.
Bridgend Council currently offers a free domestic pest control service through private company Rentokil but residents may soon be charged as the contract is due to expire.
Locals have access to free pest control for rats, mice, bedbugs, and cockroaches with charges for fleas and wasps. The council pays Rentokil £63,000 per year for the contract, regardless of the workload undertaken.
The contract was due to expire in April 2021 but was extended to October 2021. This is the maximum extension of the current contract, according to a report by Gill Lewis, the council’s interim chief officer for finance, performance, and change.
The council’s cabinet will consider the way in which future pest control services will provide during a meeting on Tuesday (May 18).
Council officers have drawn up the following options for members to discuss:
Discontinue the service from October, when the current contract ends, leaving residents to make their own arrangements with private specialists;
Re-tender the contract and introduce charges for all pests with a 50% concession fee for residents receiving benefits;
Re-tender the contract as outlined in option 2 but continue to provide a free service that deals with rats in homes;
Re-tender the contract and provide a free service (as per the current arrangement); or
Bring the service in-house with either a) charges for just wasps and fleas or b) charges for all pests – this could cost the council £191,250 per year.
Under the current contract for Bridgend Council, Rentokil must respond to all requests for domestic pest control within three days, which “is is not ideal”, according to Ms. Lewis’ report.
Residents cannot book a visit from Rentokil in advance, which has resulted in a high number of call-outs being abandoned due to pest control visiting homes when residents are out.
In 2019, 58% of respondents to a council survey said they do not think the council is suited to provide a pest control service at all.
Pest control requests in Bridgend county borough have increased by 47% since 2016. A report by council officers stated there was a notable increase in pest control requests in the county borough from March 2020.
Earlier this year, a local councillor said residents were contacting her daily about issues with rats in their homes and gardens, particularly those living in homes close to town centres.
Increased demand has also been reflected on a national level. Rentokil revealed the number of UK pest control inquiries rose by 22% between April and June 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.
Ms. Lewis’ report states that if the council decides to introduce fees for pest control, demand for the service would likely fall between 20-40% but “when the Vale of Glamorgan Council introduced a charge in 2016, the dip experienced in demand was only short-lived”.
If the council decides to consider charges for the service, a public consultation would be held with residents first over 12 weeks, and then the matter would be discussed by the cabinet again before a final decision is made.