Don’t let the bedbugs - or the cockroaches - bite

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WASPS, rats, cockroaches and bedbugs were some of the most common pests found in South Yorkshire council properties by control officers.

A national survey, the first of its kind, has revealed authorities in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley dealt with thousands of reports of pest problems in 2010/11.

Sheffield Council handled more than 11 callouts per 1,000 residents in the 12-month period, placing the authority 183rd in a list of 314 in England.

Rotherham Council dealt with over 14 pest problems per 1,000 residents - the 84th highest figure.

Barnsley Council came out worst, with 4,057 call-outs placing it 48th.

Rat problems proved the biggest issue in all three areas.

In Sheffield, rats made up almost half the 6,179 call-outs in the year, followed by wasps, then ants.

Rotherham Council was called a total of 2,046 times to alleviate problems with the critters - 8.04 demands per 1,000 residents, placing it 52nd in England.

Despite the high number of callouts, Sheffield was in the top five in England praised for employing the largest number of staff to deal with pest problems.

The data, which relates to council-owned buildings and housing, was collected by the British Pest Control Association to measure the impact of austerity on public health.

It also revealed Sheffield had one of the highest bird control treatment rates in the country from 2010 to the following year.

Simon Forrester, chief executive at the BPCA, said: “This is the most comprehensive study ever carried out of the demand placed on local authorities for pest control and it covers a period when the austerity measures were starting to bite.

“There may be a number of local factors why a council appears towards the top of one of the lists, but on a national scale the BPCA is concerned that pest control budgets are being hit.

“That may make it harder for councils in England to respond as effectively as they would like, which could have implications for both quality of life and public health.

“Authorities are reducing manpower and looking at new ways of dealing with pests. We would urge councils thinking of outsourcing services to use BPCA members – potential public health problems need to be dealt with by professionals, and failing to tackle an infestation properly leads to additional expense and resident dissatisfaction.”