What a pest!

HOUSEHOLDERS and businesses in Cookstown who encounter a pest problem are being referred to private contractors as the service administered through the council has ceased.

The service which people used previously was provided by Northern Group Systems and administered by Ballymena Borough Council and it meant residents and business owners could take advantage of pest control at a fixed rate of around £5 or £10 per treatment.

This service to eradicate vermin was set up 30 years ago to facilitate all ten councils, who helped subsidise it but unfortunately Ballymena Borough Council took the decision to withdraw the service. It ceased as of April 1 this year.

Mark Kelso, Director of Environmental Health at Cookstown District Council said the decision had been taken out of their hands.

“It was expected to make a profit but unfortunately in the last year, due to rising costs and falling revenue, the service has become unsustainable.

“We were disappointed at the decision but we understand the reasons for it. It provided a valuable service to the public and the wider community,” he told the MAIL.

At present, anyone with a pest problem will be referred to accredited British Pest Control Association operators on Cookstown District Council’s website, all of whom operate within a 15 to 20 mile radius.

Instead of a fixed rate, users may now have to pay a slightly higher charge.

Cookstown Ulster Unionist Councillor Trevor Wilson said it was an inconvenience for local people.

“I hope the charges will not increase and that the service provided will be as good as it has been previously,” he added.