Council agrees to scrap charges for pest control call-outs in Sunderland

Council bosses have scrapped plans to reinstate pest control charges for Sunderland residents.

The decision to suspend the £50 call-out fee for staff to deal with rats, mice and other pests in people’s homes for another six months was agreed at the city council’s cabinet meeting.

The cabinet agreed that “the removal of pest control fees for Sunderland residents is to be continued for a further six months, and will now be in place until the end of March 2023.”

Council chiefs also announced that they intend to make the service free permanently, starting from the next financial year.

The charge had been due to be reinstated in October, after being suspended for 12 months. Cabinet papers put the cost of suspending the charge for another six months at £170,000.

The move was welcomed by Lib Dem councillors who had said reinstating the charge would have left many people unable to afford the service in the face of the rising cost of living.

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The party had called for a vote on the issue to be held at the next full council meeting in September in a motion asking the cabinet to look at ways of keeping the service free of charge permanently.

Councillors have agreed to scrap charges for dealing with pest infestations

Pallion and Ford Estate councillor Martin Haswell, who had proposed the motion due to be debated at full council, said: “Just a few years ago those running the council claimed that there ‘was no rat problem’ in Sunderland. Now they have seen sense and adopted our plan for free pest control services before we forced a vote on the issue in a few weeks’ time.

“This is great news for local people who have struggled to pay the £50 call out fee each and every time they needed help to deal with rats, mice or other pests in their homes or gardens through no fault of their own.

"This should make a real difference to tackling to problem of vermin plaguing people’s homes across the city.

“I hope that Sunderland Council’s Labour bosses will now come up with a proper action plan to tackle rat infestations in our parks and green spaces as the next step in dealing with the rat problem in this city.”

Coun Martin Haswell (left) and Coun Paul Stewart

But city council cabinet secretary Coun Paul Stewart said Labour had already been committed to abolishing pest control charges: “We made a commitment in our manifesto to support struggling families in this city through a number of key actions such as free bins where they are stolen, introduction of a free bulky waste collection service and to make permanent the current free pest control charges,” he said.

"Indeed, we successfully fought the recent local elections on these very promises.

“The announcement at cabinet is confirmation that the Labour Party will carry out its promise to make free pest control services that we introduced permanent by putting this forward as a proposal for consultation for the 23/24 financial year.

“We hope the opposition parties will support the delivery of our Labour manifesto promise and support this proposal when it is brought forward later in the year.”