CHARGES for rodent control are to be scrapped by Hambleton district councillors.

Their decision, which comes into force immediately, follows fears that the charges have deterred people from seeking help.

The controversial £25 charge was introduced on April 1 subject to a review after six months and the authority's cabinet has unanimously decided to drop it.

Its decision followed a significant fall in requests for domestic rodent treatments since charges were introduced and more reports from parish councils about sightings of rats.

That led to fears of health and safety problems because people were trying their own treatments rather than having to pay.

Councillor John Coulson said inexperienced people were buying and using various types of bait.

He said: "That could lead to all sorts of problems, and not knowing what to do with a dead animal when they found it. It all has to be done correctly."

In the first three months after the introduction of charges, there were only 63 treatments for rats and 28 for mice, compared with 128 and 38 respectively over the same period last year.

When the charge was introduced, based on about 950 treatments a year, it was estimated that an annual income of £23,750 would be generated for the council.

However, if the reduced take-up continued over a whole year, there would be an estimated shortfall of £14,650.