Councillors have declared war on rats in Milton Keynes by earmarking £100,000 to eliminate the hated rodents from three of the worst affected estates in Milton Keynes.
MK Council’s cabinet plans to use a small part of the nearly £9 million it has for one-off projects on cleaning up Conniburrow, Fishermead, and Oldbrook and tacking “rat issues.”
“I have killed a lot of rats in my time,” said farmer and Olney ward councillor Peter Geary (Cons) at a meeting on Tuesday. “Perhaps we should encourage people to keep cats.”
The budget and resources scrutiny committee is going through the council’s budget line by line and putting cabinet members in the spotlight over their plans for the 2020-21 financial year.
Committee chairman Cllr Robin Bradburn (Lib Dem, Bradwell) said: “They are becoming immune to some of the poisons. Is there some strategy behind it?”
Cabinet member Cllr Emily Darlington (Lab, Bletchley East) said the council wants more joined up working to deal with the issue in the so-called “doughnut” estates around central Milton Keynes. This is where the worst problems are, the committee heard.
In other circumstances Cllr Darlington is a fan of wildlife and biodiversity, but in the case of rats she said: “We are not playing the Pied Piper.
“We need to take away their food sources and breeding areas. There are several areas in estates around the centre. We want to focus on there first.”
She said the council wants all its departments, including housing, landscaping,and anti-litter teams to work more closely together. And the council wants to get the message across to the public not to drop food waste and make it easy for the pests.
Cllr Geary said: “We need to remove the places where they can run, which comes back to landscaping, and to take away their food sources. Rats have to drink every day. Cats will control them.”
The committee also discussed so-called “fleecehold estates” which are common in Milton Keynes and where landscape management is in the control of private companies not the council.
Some councillors fear that the council, which last year passed a motion to stop developers using private management companies in Milton Keynes, could be storing up problems for the future if the practice is not banned.
Cllr Charlie Wilson (Lab, Stony Stratford) said: “We need to press the cabinet on this. We have passed a cross party motion on fleecehold and yet we haven’t changed planning policy.”
Cllr Darlington insisted however that “the cabinet won’t let it drop.”