New Sunderland City Council rat policy gets both backing and flak from Tories and Lib Dems
A new policy for tackling pests in Sunderland has been backed by opposition groups – but not without a certain degree of flak.
Sunderland City Council announced earlier in August that charges for domestic pest control call-outs for rodents are being scrapped for 12 months to ensure no was was missing out on important services as the city emerged from the pandemic.
Council chiefs said the amnesty on pest control fees will begin on 1 October, and aims to make the service more accessible to residents who have been financially impacted by the covid crisis.
Sunderland Conservatives welcomed the news of the pest control fees amnesty – but added the Labour-controlled council had not previously supported the Tories’ ‘Rat Action Plan’ for Wearside, which featured free means-tested pest control for selected properties.
Cllr Gregory Peacock, the Conservatives’ shadow portfolio holder for Environment and Transport, said: “I am happy to see that Labour have finally listened to the Conservatives and introduced free pest control to help residents tackle the rat problem in Sunderland. We should remember that Labour voted against this policy when it was proposed in the Conservatives’ budget.
“The council should now step up and take proper action to control the rat populations in parks and other public spaces.”
Wearside Lib Dems had a similar reaction, and said the council announcement was “better late than never”.
Cllr Ciaran Morrissey, Liberal Democrat councillor for the Hendon ward, said: “Residents in the East End, Hendon and across the city have had to put up with a rat epidemic for years now in our parks, back lanes, gardens and even in people’s homes.”
Cllr Morrissey said the Lib Dems had been pushing for free pest control since 2018 and he wished people had not been forced to “endure rat infestations” until now.
“This u-turn is better late than never,” he said.
“Free pest control services for domestic properties must now be made permanent, and a proper, long-term solution put in place to end the rats nightmare that some residents have had to put up with for years.”
Sunderland City Council said a new team of six officers is also being recruited to tackle pest control issues around the city.
The team will work on resolving rodent issues in houses and gardens with added measures being undertaken in parks, allotments and open land.
The council said it will be liaising closely with Northumbria Water Ltd about sewers and working with housing providers to ensure they are resolving any property disrepair issues which are contributing to issues for residents in their homes.
Councillor Claire Rowntree, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council and portfolio holder for Environment & Transport, said: "Many households have faced unforeseen challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic. We recognise this and want to make sure that no-one has to miss out on accessing important front-line services.”
For more information on pest control, including how to report a problem, visit www.sunderland.gov.uk/pest-control