Scrutiny meeting scheduled after council cuts pest control services across Richmond

A call-in sub-committee meeting has been scheduled for next week after Richmond Council decided to cut pest control services in the borough.

The council has been operating a pest control service through a contract awarded to SDK Environmental Ltd for the treatment of rats, mice and bed bugs at no charge.

However, according to the council, this year the contractor was “unwilling” to agree to another 12 month extension to the original contract “without a significant increase” of more than double the current charge.

The current charge is £28,000 per year which would increase to £75,000.

If they go ahead, the changes will come into effect on January 1.

There were about 1,500 requests for pest control made to the council last year. 

Councillors Suzette Nicholson and Jonathan Cardy called the meeting, as they believe “residents in difficult financial circumstances will be unduly penalised when infestation is not usually their fault”.

The councillors suggest the decision violates residents’ human rights, stating “taking the right away to potentially rid your home of rats, mice and bedbugs is taking your right of enjoying your home peacefully away from you”.

They also raise the potential impact on neighbouring homes suggesting if a household cannot deal with an infestation or afford it, the infestation could “easily” spread to another home.

In addition, no consultation has been carried out with housing providers, “who will know about the financial states of their clients” or with any charities who may know about dealing with pest infestation and have some knowledge to share.

However, the current service is discretionary and the council is not legally obliged to provide pest control, only to call on landlords to provide it if necessary.

The call-in sub-committee meeting will be held on Monday, November 11.

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