Renfrewshire Council’s charge for rat extermination has been reintroduced after being temporarily suspended over the summer.
Elected members voted for the £61.25 fee to be pulled in May after Paisley councillors Eddie Devine and Karen Kennedy claimed they had been flooded with pest complaints from people who wouldn’t tell the council for fear of being billed.
During the ten-week period of suspension, council chiefs said there was a spike in calls, particularly from people who had seen rats but were not actually experiencing an infestation in their homes.
There was also an increase in calls from residents of social landlords who would normally be provided with a separate service.
But council bosses have insisted the charge must be brought back as it is having an impact on income while the extra workload is causing delays.
A private pest control contractor had to be called upon during the suspension, which cost the local authority more than £5000.
Elected members on the environment board unanimously agreed to bring back the fee at the latest meeting.
A report to the board said: “The significant increase in workload resulting from the charges being suspended has impacted on service delivery, even with the support provided by the external pest control provider.
“Initial calls are now subject to a delay, and there is a knock-on effect for revisits to check for pest activity and re-baiting.
“This impact is not only on rodent calls but now applies to all pest treatments and is currently being compounded by self-isolation for Covid-19, annual leave and the summer months being a particularly busy time for wasp nest calls.”
During the suspension period, more than 350 calls were received by the pest control service regarding rodents compared to around 180 between the start of March and the middle of May.
A third of calls came from council tenants who do not have to pay anyway as their costs are covered through the housing revenue account.
Calls regarding rats and mice have been decreasing overall though since 2019/20, with a 35% drop recorded between that year and the following.
There have been 465 calls this year so far, compared to 871 in the whole of the previous 12 months.
Council chiefs say the income generated from charging for pest control helps to fund additional permanent posts within the service, create employment opportunities and create the capacity to be able to respond more effectively to service requests where there is no clear person responsible.
By local democracy reporter Steph Brawn