SOUTH Tyneside is one of Britain’s worst hotspots for pest problems, according to a new survey.
Borough council staff dealt with 3,963 calls during the year 2013/14, according to figures from the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) – including 723 reports of rats, an average of almost two a day.
The call-out rate of 26.75 reports per 1,000 people puts the borough seventh out of more than 300 local authorities that provided figures.
Sunderland is ranked eighth and Newcastle is the national pest blackspot, with the highest at just over 50 call-outs per 1,000 residents.
The BPCA sent requests for service demand figures to every district, borough and unitary authorities in the UK under the Freedom of Information Act.
Pests included in the data, which covers the 12 months to the end of March, include rats, mice, bedbugs, cockroaches, wasps, ants and birds.
“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.”BPCA chief executive Simon Forrester
BPCA chief executive Simon Forrester 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 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.”
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “We have a highly experienced and knowledgeable team of pest control technicians offering advice and support to residents and businesses in dealing with a variety of pest problems and how to prevent them.
“The BCPA figures reflect the high demand for our service which is well recognised locally and is generally where our residents turn to for assistance in resolving any issues they have.
“The council offers highly competitive rates for pest control. Further information can be found at http://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/17623/Pest-control.
“ If you have a problem with pests call 427 7000.”
DIABETIC Joanne Bailey, above, is typical of the residents helped by the council’s pest control service.
She was left riddled with painful sores caused by mites which infested her house in East Avenue, South Shields, last year.
Pest control teams visited the property on numerous occasions and used insecticide to kill the larvae.
Miss Bailey said at the time: “The whole house is affected, there doesn’t seem to be any rooms that are bug free, but I’d say the bedrooms are definitely the worst.
“I want to be able to put carpets down and have a nice home for my family, but I think it’s pointless at the moment because the bugs will just be crawling through it and I won’t be able to see them.”