Cabinet Member Report City of Westminster Cabinet Member: Cabinet Member for Housing Date: 12 December 2006 Classification: For general release Title of Report: Petition presented to Council in respect of pests at Elm House, W10 Report of: Chief Executive CityWest Homes Queen’s Park Wards involved: Management of the Council Policy context: One City: Excellent services, strong communities Financial summary: None arising directly from the report. Report Author: Jon Lock – Relationship Manager Contact Details: 020 7245 2074 firstname.lastname@example.org 1. Summary 1. SUMMARY 1.1 This report has been prepared in response to a petition presented to Council by Councillor Barrie Taylor signed by 5 residents of Elm House on the Avenue Gardens Estate. The petition concerned pest control at Elm House. This report sets out the background to the petition, as well as action taken by CityWest Homes and the Council’s Pest Control Service to address the issues sets out in the petition. 2. Recommendation 2.1 That the Cabinet Member for Housing note the action taken so far and plans for further action in future as set out in the report. 3. Background 3.1 Elm House is a Council owned property of 32 flats, managed by CityWest Homes. Dunlop Haywards are contracted to provide the frontline housing management service to the block. Westminster City Council’s pest control section is tasked via a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to provide pest control services to the majority of all CityWest Homes managed properties, including Elm House. 3.2 Under the terms of the SLA, Westminster’s pest control service are currently tasked with carrying out the following duties on the Avenue Gardens Estate, in which Elm House is situated: Proactive Sewer Baiting – twice a year. Reactive treatments to reports of rats – under the terms of the agreement, the Pest Control service aim to attend within 12 hours if the problem is reported within a property, or within 3 working days if outside Reactive treatments to reports of mice – attendance due within 3 working days. To report a problem, residents are asked to call 020 7641 1522. This information is included in tenants handbooks and on posters at all estate offices. 3.3 Since April the estate team have been monitoring pests on the Avenue Gardens Estate. Their view is that the cutting back of the shrubbery and bushes on the south side of Harrow Road (along the canal) has exacerbated problems with pests. As this was a natural habitat for pests, they appear to have migrated across the road onto the Estate. The Pest Control service has recorded 6 reports in the past year. 4. Action Taken 4.1 CityWest Homes have been working with the City Council’s Pest Control Service to carry out periodic baiting of the estate grounds, and the situation is being monitored using bait boxes. 4.2 In view of resident’s concerns, CityWest Homes consulted an independent pest control company, Albany Environmental Services Ltd., who inspected the estate and provided advice and guidance on what action would be appropriate in all the circumstances. One suggestion was periodic baiting which is already being undertaken. We have also conducted CCTV monitoring of the drains to check for cracks that might be contributing to the problem. 4.3 The estate services team and cleaning contractors monitor and check the communal areas daily to ensure that household waste is disposed of in a responsible manner and enforcement action is taken where residents persist in irresponsible disposal of their refuse, although initially the approach is very much to engage residents to describe fully the consequences of failing to dispose of refuse responsibly. 4.4 In attempting to keep as many residents informed about this issue, CityWest Homes included an article about pests in a recent Estate Newsletter and there are plans to draft another article for the winter edition. We are preparing a general newsletter to all residents on the estate providing more information about what to do and who to contact in the event that they have concerns or queries about pests. 4.5 With regards to the specific signatories to the petition, the following records are held: 8 Elm House – This was first reported to the pest control team on 24/5/05. A visit was made to this address on 26/5/05 but there was no reply. A card was left but there was no further contact. A further call was made to the address following a report of garden ants on 30 March 2006. Again, there was no reply and a card was left. 10 Elm House – This property was treated in line with the timescales set out in CityWest’s service level agreement with the Pest Control Service. 15 Elm House – This property was last treated in 2005 when a problem was last reported. The Pest Control Service will make contact with the resident, in response to the petition. The last appointment was made for the 11/1/06, there was no reply a card was left but there was no further contact. 19 & 21 Elm House – these residents have not previously contacted the pest control team. CityWest will make contact with the resident, in response to the petition. A survey was carried out on the 30/6/05 after rats were reported at Elm House defectiive storm gullies were found and reported to Highways, Reference 9724, on that day 5. Concluding remarks 5.1 Although any experience of pests is understandably a cause for concern, records held by the Pest Control Service, the number of reports and the findings of the independent survey would all seem to indicate that the current measures in place to tackle resident’s concerns will be sufficient, and these will continue. 5.2 In addition to this, however, the estate team will write to all signatories of the petition seeking suitable dates for the attendance of Pest Control officers when their flats can be surveyed for necessary proofing work, and baited. Officers will look to reassure residents and provide more information about pest control services operated in the City.