Polegate and Seaford are a ‘hotspot for rats’

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Polegate and Seaford are among Britain’s worst hotspots for rats, according to a new survey.

Lewes District Council, which covers Polegate and Seaford, dealt with 1,018 issues with the rodents in the last year at a rate of 10.44 per 1,000 residents – the 15th highest of 407 local authorities in the UK.

In comparison, Eastbourne Borough Council dealt with just 284 callouts for rats in the same year.

The data comes from the third study of its kind carried out by the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) which analysed nationwide demand for pest control.

It shows the authority’s environmental team also tackled 233 issues with wasps and 172 with other insects during the year.

The not-for-profit BPCA sent requests for service demand figures to every district, borough and unitary authorities in the UK under the Freedom of Information Act.

Pests covered by the data, which covers the 12 months to the end of March, 2014, include rats, mice, bedbugs, cockroaches, wasps, ants and birds.

Simon Forrester, chief executive of the BPCA, said: “Our study provides a comprehensive and graphic indication of the demand placed on local authorities for pest control.

“There are many localised reasons why a particular area could have a high prevalence of a certain pest, but we’re concerned that services are being cut across the country.”

The number of local authorities offering a pest control service – either in-house or sub-contracted – declined by four per cent last year alone and Mr Forrester believes that has had a big impact.

He added, “The Government’s austerity measures have left local authorities under immense pressure to come up with savings.

“Many who once provided pest control free of charge have either introduced charges or done away with their service altogether in a bid to balance the books.

“The pest population is higher than ever as a result and the problem is likely to get much worse, so we’re worried that short-term budget cuts will result in higher overall costs down the line.”

The number of local authorities offering a pest control service – either in-house or sub-contracted – declined by four per cent last year alone.

The BPCA says it’s a policy which has created big problems, particularly in low-income areas.

Mr Forrester added, “The cost of professional treatments, either through the local authority or the private sector, can be prohibitive when people are struggling to make ends meet.

“But if residents try to deal with issues themselves, or bring in unqualified controllers because they’re cheap, infestations can quickly get out of hand. The problem then becomes much more expensive and carries a greater risk to public health.

“The best advice is to employ a member of the BPCA – that way people are assured of a safe, effective and professional service.”