Calls for more help with pest control in Falkirk district

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A Labour councillor has asked Falkirk Council to do more to help people faced with the problem of vermin – which he claims has got worse since the local authority scrapped its pest control service.

Bo’ness councillor David Aitchison asked Falkirk Council to look at ways to make it easier and cheaper for residents in the Falkirk area to access a pest control service, saying he had seen a rise in queries from constituents since February when the changes came in.

He also believes there has been a big increase in flytipping, especially around the Bo’ness tip.

Councillor Aitchison said: “You’ve only to look on Facebook to see the number of posts from people looking to get stuff taken away.

“The problem is if people are paying someone to take rubbish away they have to make sure it is someone

reputable, otherwise there is a risk that ‘a man in a van’ will take the money and just dump the stuff.”

Councillor Aitchison was unable to attend the executive meeting last Tuesday, but Labour group leader Robert Bissett put forward the motion instead.

Councillor Bissett blamed the problem on budget cuts over the last ten years and said Labour would restore the pest control service if it was in power.

In the Labour group motion, they attacked the monthly green bin collections;  £30 special uplift charges; and a reduction in opening hours of waste recycling centres, all of which they said had led to the increase in vermin.

They asked the council to engage with pest control companies to see if they could offer a better deal for Falkirk residents;  do more to educate people as to how to prevent vermin from frequenting a

particular area; and look at ways to tackle the issue collaboratively.

The SNP’s environment spokesman Paul Garner blasted Councillor Aitchison’s proposal and said there was no evidence that vermin numbers were rising.

He said: “Where’s the evidence? I haven’t seen it and my colleagues haven’t seen it!

“The decision to cease providing the pest control service was not taken lightly.

“It was the equivalent of one full-time post and many of the specialised cases had to be contracted out anyway.”

He also disagreed that the monthly green bin uplift is causing a rise in vermin.

He said: “There should be no food waste in a green bin given that we provide a weekly upflift of food waste.

“As for the tips, one or other is available seven days a week, there are late openings and they are open weekends.”

Councillor Garner was also unimpressed by Labour’s claims that elderly people were put off by the £30 uplift charge.

He said: “Did his Labour party realise this when they first implemented charges?”

However Conservative group leader Lynn Munro backed Councillor Aitchison, saying: “This is not a political issue, it’s a public health issue.

“I actually believe councils have a duty to deliver the basics well and we have taken out an option to get this issue dealt with timeously – and that’s important!”

Polmont councillor Malcolm Nicol also criticised Councillor Garner for his political attack on Councillor Aitchison.

He told the meeting: “It’s an issue the member has raised and he deserves to be treated with respect.”

The motion was carried and a report will come back to council outlining action that can be taken.