SitexOrbis' Response to Panorama programme on pest control

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The news that 29 councils have disbanded their pest control teams or started charging for services which were previously free since 2010, is bad news for consumers and businesses.

It could leave society’s most vulnerable people – families who cannot afford to pay for pest control – vulnerable to pests, and the diseases they carry

The shocking finding, which was uncovered on last night’s BBC2 Panorama programme, comes as a result of public sector budget cuts. View the programme on pest control.

This means that more social housing tenants will find their properties overrun with rats, bedbugs and cockroaches, unless they are prepared to fork out to get rid of the pest themselves.

“This is a shocking finding,” said Mark Cosh, sales and marketing director at pest control experts SitexOrbis. “It could leave society’s most vulnerable people – families who cannot afford to pay for pest control – vulnerable to pests, and the diseases they carry. We urge local authorities to reconsider these cuts and reinstate the budget for pest control services to ensure everyone is properly protected.”

It’s imperative that councils take rapid and effective action to remove pests from social housing at the first sign of trouble, added Cosh. “Pests make for extremely unpleasant and unwanted housemates and can damage the building and its contents. They can also spread disease so it is important councils take preventative measures, as well as being reactive. Cockroaches eat a wide range of food including rotting rubbish, and so carry salmonella and gastroenteritis. Vermin too are dangerous. Rats spread Weil's disease, a bacterial infection that kills about 12 people in Britain every year. In 2010 the Olympic medallist rower Andy Holmes died from the disease. It is caught through contact with water or areas contaminated by the urine of infected animals including rats. Rowers and fishermen are particularly vulnerable as are elderly, sick and very young people living in infested properties. Rats also spread toxoplasmosis and salmonella.”

Cosh argued that by acting fast, councils are protecting their tenants. They’re also protecting themselves from being sued or worse. Last year a senior housing officer at a London council was threatened with jail for contempt of court for allegedly failing to have the council deal with a Pharaoh ant infestation in a tenant’s home. The council said the pest control team could not access neighbouring properties to complete the work and so could not carry out the work. This is just one example of how a council’s reputation can be damaged and its finances possibly hurt by having to pay compensation. It also highlights the importance of using a pest control technician with the technology to provide clients with a full audit trail of all work done.

Social housing is particularly prone to infestations. A new study, the first of its kind, by the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) of over 390 local authorities found that a council in east London has the highest number of infestations of bed bugs, mice, cockroaches and others pests in the country, with 80 infestations per 1,000 people. The problem is the high percentage of tightly packed tower block housing, which facilitates the easy migration of pests.

Cosh concluded that it is important that councils use a reputable expert to ensure that the job is done correctly and safely. This year two pest controllers were jailed for four months and each fined £7,000 for poisoning wildlife at a park after using a pesticide without approval, contrary to the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986. Earlier this year a West Norfolk pest controller was fined £1,000 for keeping pesticides in an unlocked garden shed. Norfolk police officers found nine pesticide containers of aluminium phosphide, a moisture-activated gassing compound, which produces a very toxic gas that can be deadly.

About SitexOrbis
SitexOrbis provides a complete vacant property service for commercial property and social housing. From securing the property with the right type of screens and cleaning and clearing it of debris to monitoring it with battery-powered video alarms. All services are backed up by Aura, SitexOrbis’ real-time web-based workflow management and reporting systems enabling customers to instruct, control and track the progress of jobs undertaken by their contractors,

In the UK the company protects more than 50,000 properties as well as 10,000 lone workers, cleans 20,000 properties annually and provides infection control, long-term mould eradication and access control. The group generates a combined turnover of in excess of £50 million and employs more than 700 people.

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