Pest population explosion feared as council spending cuts bite

Pest controller Bob Howard checks the attic of a house for evidence of rat or squirrel infestation. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris

“If you leave your front door open, don’t be surprised if there’s someone sitting in your living room,” sighs Bob Howard as he scans the walls of a house in commuter-belt Hertfordshire and tries to determine whether rats or squirrels are laying stealthy siege to its loft.

According to the veteran pest controller, rodents aren’t the only creatures making themselves comfortable in our midst: pest populations, including bedbugs, appear to be on the rise across the county just as the money needed to tackle them dwindles. Budget cuts of almost 30% mean that local authorities no longer have the funds to deal with pests. As they have no statutory duty to provide such services, some have reduced their pest control teams and outsourced the work to private contractors; others have introduced charges, while some have ceased offering services altogether.

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An Edinburgh kebab shop owner has been fined £1350 after cooked beetle larva was found in a kebab sold from his takeaway.

City of Edinburgh Council food safety inspectors made a visit to The Olympus Takeaway on 13 October 2010, after a food complaint.

During the visit, the officers found that there was extensive evidence of both mouse and Larder beetle activity.

Mouse droppings were also found throughout the premises, mostly in the preparation room and basement. Both dead and live beetle larvae were found in the food preparation room.

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