COMMENT: Explosive rat issue blows up in Sunderland

Who’d be a rat? In the same week Sunderland Tories tabled a motion for money to be ploughed into vermin control in the community, one of the much-maligned creatures was awarded a medal for bravery!

Monday, 28th September 2020, 5:50 pm
Undated handout photo issued by the PDSA of Cambodian landmine detection rat, Magawa, wearing his PDSA Gold Medal, the animal equivalent of the George Cross.

Magawa the African pouched rat received his tiny medal of honour for uncovering landmines and unexploded munitions in Cambodia.

By contrast, in Sunderland, a metaphorical bomb went off at the city council when the opposition Conservative group tabled a motion for more pest treatment in the city and to make it easier to report sightings. First to explode was Labour’s Coun Paul Stewart who denied there was a “rat problem” in the city and said that what issues there may be are under control.

Rather than being considered a reasonable response to recent public concerns about rats in the city, the Tory move was viewed as a deliberate attempt to “stoke up residents’ fears.” In truth, rat concerns depend on where you stand (and that’s usually less than six foot from the beasts). Out of sight is out of mind for most, but if you find one in your kitchen or rummaging in your bins, you’re likely to blow your stack … and demand council action.

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Pest control is essential in the community and, as the statistics provided by the council clearly show, there has been a reduction, not increase, in rat reports over the last year.

That would be disappointing if we were in need of hero bomb-finding rats, but until that day arrives, we’ll welcome this particular rat reduction.