SUNDERLAND is one of the country’s worst hotspots for pest problems, according to a new survey.
Figures show Sunderland Council dealt with more than 29 pest issue requests per 1,000 residents last year, the fifth-highest figure of 406 local authorities.
It was ranked 10th in a 2011 poll by the British Pest Control Association (BPCA), which analysed demand for pest control in the UK.
The “all pests” category of the study revealed that the council was called out a total of 8,007 times over the period.
The not-for-profit organisation sent Freedom of Information Act requests to all district, borough and unitary authorities asking for service demand figures for the 12 months to April 2012.
Simon Forrester, chief executive at the BPCA, said: “This is one of the most comprehensive studies of the demand placed on local authorities for pest control ever carried out and it covers a period when austerity measures were biting.
“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.
“Our second national survey provides incredibly valuable data and we can now refer to last year’s figures to plot trends, identify new threats and gauge how cutbacks are affecting such a vital public health service.”
The research shows Sunderland City Council has the second highest rates of call outs in the North East, with South Tyneside in fourth place.
Elsewhere in the study, Newcastle was seventh, Middlesbrough 10th, Hartlepool 38th, Gateshead 45th and Durham 53th.
The latest research follows an Echo report which shows that a rodent is spotted in Sunderland every other hour.
Pest control officers in the city are dealing with 15 reports of rats and mice every day.
According to figures obtained by the Echo earlier this year, vermin are most common in Hendon, which tops the list with 821 sightings in the past two years.
Hetton comes in second place with 792 reports, closely followed by Pallion with 714 sightings between 2011 and 2013.
Six years ago, there were 10 reports a day, but this only applied to complaints about rats.
Mr Forrester said: “Local authorities are under immense strain to come up with savings, but the BPCA wants to make sure this doesn’t have an impact on public health.
“The BPCA is very keen to make sure short-term budget cuts don’t result in much higher overall costs down the line.
“If an infestation isn’t dealt with quickly and properly, it will spread. Dealing with it then is much more expensive and carries a greater risk to public health.”