Pest control services in Bolton could be made free again under plans by the new Labour Council.
The announcement comes as new figures show that the local authority dealt with more than double the number of rat infestations last year than in 2021 when charging for rat call-outs was introduced.

Local authorities across the UK dealt with 225,430 rodent infestations in 2022, equivalent to 618 per day, according to new research.

And figures show there was an increase in the number of rat problems dealt with by the pest control in Bolton with figures rising from 569 in 2021 to 1,238 in 2022.

Cllr Karen Hon, who represents the Great Lever ward, said: “It’s a problem in the whole of Bolton.

“One of the things Labour is looking to pursue is to make the pest control free in Bolton.

“The council had taken away a free service and people cannot afford it, so we need to make it a free provision.”

And in response to the rat infestation data, a spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions impacted our pest control home visits and our ability to enter private dwellings.

The Bolton News: Rats previously spotted in Queens ParkRats previously spotted in Queens Park (Image: Sarah Louise Campbell)

“We conduct sewer baiting to pro-actively control the rat population throughout the borough.

“The council offers a paid for pest control service for the treatment of rats in domestic properties.”

Bolton residents across the borough have dealt with rat problems recently with families scared for their children and rats breeding with one mum saying: “I’m petrified for my children.”

Rodents can cause significant structural damage to homes by gnawing under floorboards, within stud walls and drywall linings, or by making holes in loft insulation which can cause condensation and rot in the joists.

If mice and rats chew through plastic pipes it can also lead to damp, or flooding whilst chewing through electrical cables could cause significant fire risks.

Some rodents also carry diseases such as Salmonella and Listeria, which can easily spread to humans, normally through rodent urine, droppings, or by coming into contact with food preparation areas.

According to the data the City and County of Swansea dealt with the most residential rodent infestations in 2022, a total of 16,767.

Southwark Council and Birmingham were the second and third busiest councils last year, dealing with 16,665 and 12,736 infestations respectively.

Dan Simson, Head of Direct Line Home Insurance, which carried out the research said: “Mice and rats pose a real risk to the home and people’s health.

“They take advantage of issues like broken pipes, slipped roof tiles or holes in skirting to gain access to a property, often causing serious damage to the structural integrity of a building or belongings.

“We recommend that anyone with an infestation contact either their local authority or an extermination service to have it taken care of professionally.” 

Ian Andrew, Chief Executive at the British Pest Control Association, commented: "Rodents are a serious public health pest and they have rapid breeding cycles, which means infestations require swift action as they can escalate quickly.

“Unfortunately, being unable to afford pest control increases the likelihood of people either ignoring infestations or attempting DIY pest control methods, which can make the issue worse and endanger other people or non-target species.

"A pest professional such as a BPCA member will have the technical knowledge and experience required to deal with an infestation quickly and safely, as well as having access to products not available to the public.

“Pest management is vital for maintaining the safety, health, and wellbeing of people, so it would be great to see something in the UK like the proactive approach New York City are taking, with the appointment of a ‘rat star’."

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