BOROUGH council leaders have been accused of stealthy price hikes after fees for rat control services shot up.
A 74.8 per cent increase in rat disinfestation services – from £25.75 to £45 - was branded “outrageous” by Labour councillor Stephen O’Connor.
His comments came as the full council met last week to approve the council’s 2014 fees and charges.
Councillor O’Connor said: “We have heard about this council keeping council tax frozen but pest control is an extremely worrying problem. Disinfestation for rats going up by 74.8 per cent is outrageous. These are stealth taxes.
“Is it going to encourage people to phone up and say ‘can you deal with this rat problem?’ Or are they going to think ‘I will leave it and let somebody else do it’ and let the rat population get bigger and bigger.”
But Conservative councillors refuted accusations of “stealth taxes”, saying their fees and charges were out in the open for the public to see.
Councillor Frank Finlay, cabinet member for environment, said: “Rat disinfestation is a discretionary service – not every council provides a pest control service. This is not a call out charge it is a charge for dealing with an infestation.
“It requires, on average, three visits by officers. And if you go to the private sector you are probably looking at in excess of £100.”