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It'll cost pounds 23 to get rid of furry invaders; MICE CONTROL: City council is proposing to introduce new charge.

Byline: By Fiona Scott, POLITICAL EDITOR

PEOPLE in Coventry who find unwelcome furry pests in their homes could soon be charged pounds 23.50 to get rid of them.

Traditionally, the city council would send out pest control officers free of charge to clear mice from private homes.

But while the council is prepared to continue to tackle rats, cockroaches and bedbugs for nothing, it wants to charge for mice.

At the same time, councillors are poised to cut one manager's job and reduce the hours of one worker in the pest control team.

Together, the changes would save more than pounds 70,000 a year.

Tory councillor Hazel Noonan, cabinet member for city services, who will take a formal decision on October 18, defended the idea of charging.

Cllr Noonan (Cheylesmore) said: "A lot of other councils charge. We've done some bench-marking. We do provide the service free and it does have a cost to the council.

"We're proposing that rats and cockroaches still be done for free, but we want to provide good services elsewhere so it's about balancing the budget."

Asked if the charge would put people off, she replied: "I hope not. We are still going to be cheaper than other organisations that do provide the same service and I do hope that people will still contact us.

"At pounds 20, it's still good value for money."

The proposed charge will be pounds 20 plus VAT - but pensioners and people on means-tested benefits will be charged half price.

Last year the council tackled 1,487 cases of mice.

The creatures pose a risk to health because they dribble urine, nibble food and even chew through electrical cables.

They can produce litters of young every four to six weeks and, if left untackled, can multiply quickly.

Charging for mice could bring in as much as pounds 29,000 and the job cuts at least pounds 40,000 in a full year.

Remaining staff may get a computerised appointment system to help them work more efficiently, and they may cut down on office space, saving more cash.

A council scrutiny board will look at the proposals on Wednesday and feed any comments to Cllr Noonan by October 18.

COUNCIL RATES

WHAT other councils charge to get rid of mice:

Warwick District Council pounds 50, pensioners pounds 25

Nuneaton Borough Council - free North Warwickshire Borough Council - free

Stratford District Council - pounds 50 for up to three visits, pensioners and people on benefits pay pounds 12.50

Derby - pounds 30

Stoke - pounds 47

Leicester - pounds 22.50
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 5, 2007
Words:427
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