Norfolk families face postcode lottery over council charges for tackling rats and mice
Families plagued by rats and made miserable by mice are facing a postcode lottery over whether Norfolk councils charge them to get rid of the pests, it has emerged.
In the face of pressure on the coffers of local councils, some have stopped providing free pest control, so the charge for dealing with rats and mice in Norfolk varies from nothing up to �41.
The issue was highlighted in a BBC Panorama programme this week, which explored whether such cuts, coupled with record spring and summer rainfall, were leading to an increase in vermin.
Norwich City Council introduced a charge for pest control of rats and mice at least five years ago. The council charges �24.25 for initial assessment and up to three further visits.
Any subsequent visits as part of the same treatment are charged at �11.55 for each extra visit.
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In 2011/12 the council dealt with 445 cases of mice and rats, compared to 556 the previous year.
South Norfolk Council also charges for rats and mice, with the �30 fee covering initial treatment and up to three follow-up visits.
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Discounts are available for people on benefits, but the treatment was free of charge for people in receipt of benefits up until the end of March 2009.
The council says it had to introduce charges to cover more of the cost of the service.
The council had 510 requests for rat and mice control between April last year and March this year and 661 over the previous 12 months.
Broadland District Council still offers a free service for rat and mice control and provided treatment at more than 700 properties last year.
John Fisher, Broadland District Council's portfolio holder for environmental excellence, said: 'With some local authorities either scrapping their pest control or starting to charge for a call out, it's becoming something of a postcode lottery in some places.
'Not so in Broadland. We are committed to keeping the service free for anyone who has a problem, as these pests can cause a risk to public health.'
Great Yarmouth Borough Council also provides a free service for rats and mice in domestic properties. The authority received 1,005 calls for rats and mice in 2011, compared to 1,104 in the previous year.
North Norfolk District Council has an approved contractor for rodent control, which charges �41 for two visits.
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