Tag Archives: Southwark

Tony’s Tales – Rats in the Kitchen

Tony Halliday, our boss, has spent years on the front line of pest control in London. His tales of strange situations and even stranger customers would fill volumes. He’s allowed us to record some of the skirmishes he’s experienced in his battle against vermin in Southwark and beyond.

A lot of Tony’s pest control stories feature Rats. These unsavory rodents breed in the old London sewers, making their burrows in the cracks and crevices of decaying Victorian brickwork and broken pipes.

Not surprisingly, rats often turn up in kitchens. They’re always hungry and always looking for food. In older houses, often those which have not been so well looked after, there are plenty of gaps and holes through which the rats can slip in.

On one call-out in Southwark, Tony and his mate were met by a burly South American bloke who didn’t speak a word of English. Tony tried to explain why they were there and the South American responded by waving his arms around and firing off a torrent of words in a foreign language.

Eventually the South American seemed to calm down and led Tony through to the kitchen, a ramshackle affair that had seen much better days. There, on top of the washing machine, peering out from under the worktop, was a rat.

Despite his size, the South American refused to enter the room and simply pointed from the doorway. Tony and his mate knew that they had to get rid of the rat and take measures to protect against other vermin.

Catching a rat is relatively easy using modern pest control measures, such as sticky boards. Unfortunately, this encounter was before Tony’s team had such equipment. So he was forced to hunt the rat down to catch and dispatch it.

This particular rat had a strong sense of self-preservation and did not want to be caught. It quickly disappeared, leaving Tony and his mate to begin a cupboard by cupboard search. They removed kickboards and emptied cupboards as they methodically closed in on the creature.

Looking into one cupboard, Tony thought he heard a noise from the back. He grabbed his torch, put his head in the cupboard, and found himself literally face-to-face with the rat, which was hiding in a saucepan.

For the rat, it was almost a case of out of the frying pan into the fire. Tony dealt with the rodent quickly and efficiently. The South American, despite being unable to speak a word of English, understood that the job had been done and was effusive in his gratitude to the pest controllers.

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Council Food Waste Recycling Tackles Pests and Pollution

Your household or business could be spending hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds on food that’s then thrown away. Apparently the average home bins food worth £50 every month. That’s a lot of pizza, pasta and peas being tossed away as rubbish, every day.

This mountain of edible waste creates its own problems. The decomposing mass is a huge source of pollution, pumping CO2 into the atmosphere as it rots down in landfills. More worryingly, for householders, it’s an enormous food source for a variety of insects and animals, attracting vermin and creating a pest control problem.

Fortunately, Borough councils are taking positive steps to introduce food waste recycling for at least some of London’s thousands of homes.

For example, the London Borough of Southwark has recently completed a trial collection of food waste from many homes. Considered a success, the pilot scheme has been continued beyond its initial six months and the Borough is now looking at extending it to other areas.

These collections take place weekly, partly as a pest control measure. While much of the discarded food is placed in secure plastic bins with lids, it still produces unpleasant smells as it begins to rot. The trend towards collecting rubbish once every two weeks is acceptable for dry rubbish, but by removing food waste weekly, councils are helping to deter pests attracted to the foul odours.

Southwark’s recycling scheme takes a broad range of food waste including meat and bones, rice and pasta and dairy products. This material is mixed with garden waste and composted on a commercial scale. By processing this in a controlled environment, exposure to pests is minimised and the outcome is a reusable material, compost, which can be sold back to consumers.

Other London Boroughs provide services similar to those being trialled by Southwark. Lambeth began a trial in 2009 which is slowly being extended across the borough. The City of London is also rolling out food waste collections. However, some areas, such as Kensington and Chelsea, are still without food recycling capabilities.

Businesses can’t take advantage of the free collection services provided by Borough councils. However, there are plenty of waste disposal firms eager to service their needs and all of these will be working towards recycling targets.

The most effective way to deal with food waste is to buy more carefully and throw less away. But there will always be some leftovers which require disposal in a way that avoids attracting the attention of pests.

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‘Mouse Sabotage’ Brings New Meaning to Pest Control

According to ‘The Chambers Dictionary’, a pest is a troublesome person or thing. Earlier this week a pizzeria owner in Pennsylvania decided this definition included his competitors, which led to him launching a unique pest control initiative.

He sneaked bags of live mice onto the premises of two rival pizza restaurants in what appears to have been a bid to discredit them. According to the report on the BBC website, his mistake was to drop off one consignment in full view of police officers, who made a swift arrest and promptly rounded up his rodent accomplices.

Apparently the perpetrator’s newly opened pizzeria had mouse problems of its own. He was facing the problem common to all catering establishments – food attracts both people and pests.

Restaurants and takeaways wage continual war against Cockroaches, Rats, Mice, Flies and a host of other invaders. Their owners don’t want the ignominy that comes with failing an environmental health inspection.

In a competitive market the news that the chef is sharing a kitchen with four and six-legged visitors is enough to send punters scurrying elsewhere. It can also come with a hefty penalty.

At the end of last year a Chinese restaurant in Southwark was fined nearly £5,000 because its pest control measure had failed. Inspectors spotted a live cockroach and mouse droppings during a routine visit. Incredibly, the remains of two cockroaches were found squashed in the pages of the food safety log.

Keeping pests out of kitchens and store rooms isn’t easy. They’re busy places with lots of comings and goings. All sorts of poison and traps can be laid but unless they’re regularly maintained they soon become ineffective.

It only takes a small number of cockroaches to find their way in, perhaps travelling as unintended passengers with a delivery of stock, to create an infestation.

Perhaps that’s what that Pennsylvanian pizzeria owner was trying to do – introduce a handful of mice into rival premises in the hope they’d breed and overrun the place.

What’s sad is that his own restaurant seemed to have the potential to be a great success. Online reviews say his pizza was ‘outstanding’- better than the competition’s. But his reputation, and perhaps his business, is the victim of an overzealous and misguided approach to Pest Control Services.

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Billions to be Poured Into London Super Sewer

Most of us picture London’s sewers as a network of brick-lined tunnels infested with rats and other unsavoury pests. It’s a fairly accurate image but plans are afoot to construct a new super sewer that could run beneath the streets of Southwark or Tower Hamlets.

The huge drainpipe is being designed to capture the overflow from the existing sewer system, which regularly reaches capacity and spews raw waste into the River Thames. The project is going to cost over £3.6 billion and the tunnel will run deep underground for over 20 miles.

The exact route hasn’t been decided yet and part of the process to help determine where it will go was a public consultation, which closed recently. The most expensive option is to run the tunnel beneath the Thames but it could be diverted to cross either Southwark or Tower Hamlets.

When the route is chosen, the planners will get to work, followed by the builders. It’s a massive project that will take years to complete and the tunnel won’t be ready before 2020 at the earliest.

The notion that a sewer is home to countless rats should be dispelled by this twenty-first century scheme. Numerous pest control measures will be incorporated into the design and many of the materials used will be rodent-resistant.

Environmental health officials from across London will want to be sure that this new channel for waste won’t become the breeding ground for more vermin. They’ll want the confidence that increasing London’s capacity for handling sewage won’t also boost the local rat population.

Unfortunately, the new super sewer won’t replace the existing and aging Victorian tunnels. It will supplement them but the old network, with its millions of holes and crevices that make ideal homes for rats, will remain. This means that even with its new super sized flushing mechanism, London’s problems with pest control will remain.

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