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Falkirk locals plead for help after local council cuts vital pest control service

A local council in Scotland that cut pest control services to save money, despite complaints of a 'serious' local rat infestation, has been publicly criticised by the Scottish Countryside Alliance.

Furious locals in SNP-run Falkirk have pleaded with council leaders to fulfil their "legal and moral duties" to tackle the rat problem, as reports of rodents invading homes and 'running through the walls', plague the town.

Local campaigners have been desperately urging Falkirk Council to reinstate its pest control service for months and the situation has got so bad that a citizen-led 'Falkirk District Action Group' has been set up.

At the group's first public meeting at the end of February, residents expressed horror at the growing problem to councillors in attendance, with some being reduced to tears as they claimed it was causing them to have sleepless nights and being left too afraid to enter their own bedrooms.

Many of those attending were Falkirk Council tenants who said that the £246 charge for private pest control was simply unaffordable for many people. Other members of the audience raised issues with a lack of cleanliness in streets across the district creating problems.

At a previous council meeting in October 2022, councillors rejected calls for a report into bringing back pest control services, despite hearing evidence that one young family discovered a rat had chewed through the teat of a baby's bottle.

Falkirk Council's pest control service has been scrapped and reinstated in the past few years. However, the service was once more cut in last year's budget, providing a saving of £100,000 every year.

The Scottish Countryside Alliance has hit back however, claiming that the council needs to treat the problem as a top priority. They are concerned that the lack of action could be animal rights related.

It has criticised the council for claiming to be financially hard up, while at the same time as cutting the service, receiving almost £400,000 from parking fine payments.

Under Freedom of Information laws, the Scottish Countryside Alliance discovered that from January 2020 to January 2023, £395,340.36 has been collected from penalty charge notices across the district. A separate FOI request found that some £10,000 has also been spent by the council on catering at their events.

The Alliance's Scottish Director, Jake Swindells, said: "The situation is clearly out of hand and having a profound negative impact on the lives of people living in Falkirk. It doesn't seem to add up that despite raking in hundreds of thousands in parking fines, there is still not enough money to tackle the infestation".

He went on to say: "We have seen examples of local authorities not taking decisive action based on animal rights sentiment in the past and given this matter appears to be getting worse and the outcry continues to be met with inaction, we must question whether it's playing a part in Falkirk.

"We sincerely hope not, and hope money can be assigned to exterminate this infestation as quickly as possible."

In 2020, Bradford on Avon Town Council was criticised after it outlawed poison traps over fears they could kill other species.

This story was originally covered by The Scottish Sun. Falkirk Council was contacted for comment.

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