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City in the UK's worst ten for rats
OXFORD’S rat population has landed it on a list of the 10 worst areas for the vermin in the UK.
A report by the British Pest Control Association has revealed the city council dealt with 1,582 domestic rat cases in 2010/11.
That worked out as an average of 34.6 cases per square kilometre in the city, ranking Oxford 10th in the UK.
In April 2011, Oxford City Council started charging to deal with the pests.
The news came as no surprise to Dr Frances Kennett, who was forced out of her home by an infestation and claims Oxford will never rid itself of its rodent problem.
The author and editor made the headlines several years ago when she withheld her council tax because her Jericho home was infested. She blamed a switch to fortnightly bin collections, and called on the council to deal with the problem. She won her court battle over tax but eventually left her home because of the infestation.
She said: “I don’t think there’s any possibility of these figures coming down. It’s what we have to live with because of decisions which have been made in the past.”
Dr Kennett said residents of her street in Jericho had noticed a problem shortly after fortnightly bin collections were introduced in 2006.
But Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “It isn’t a major problem and I don’t think the waste collection issue is a factor. Not only is food waste collected weekly, but it’s collected in enclosed bins. It clearly requires people to use it properly.”
Meanwhile, the number of rat call-outs received by environmental health officers at Oxford City Council has dropped from 1,386 in the year ending March 2011, to 914 in the year ending March 2012.
Mr Price said the fall in callout numbers was “almost certainly” linked to the fact Oxford City Council began charging for the services of its extermination team as part of budget cuts. Getting rid of rats costs £28, but the service is free for those on benefits.
Other cities listed in the top 10 areas for rats by area include Liverpool at number three, Bristol in seventh and Birmingham at number one.
Council spokesman Annette Cunningham said the number of rat call-outs had been falling steadily over the past few years. A proactive baiting programme had been increased to mitigate any potential reduction in rat callouts, with visits to 70 sites across a sixweek frequency.