FURY has erupted over a council’s plan to introduce charges to exterminate rats and mice.

Critics fear Fareham Borough Council’s plan to charge £60 to remove rats and mice from households could pose a risk to public health.

At a recent executive meeting, the council discussed a number of proposals including introduce charges or providing no service at all.

However, a number of opposition councillors called in the decision to scrutiny to try and force a rethink.

Councillor Roger Price, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on the council, said: “We are extremely concerned.

“Residents not in receipt of benefits but on a low income would not be able to pay the fee, which can put people’s health at severe risk because they will prioritise their spending elsewhere, which is why the council should be able to step in and provide support.”

Councillor Shaun Cunningham, who represents Portchester East on the council, added: “There is an extremely big risk to public health because rats and mice can carry diseases including many species of bacteria and viruses, as well as be carriers for other diseases.

“They are penny-pinching to make savings.”

The proposed new charges the council say could bring in £24,000 a year in revenue.

Councillor Trevor Cartwright, executive member for public protection on the council, said: “There is no risk to public health. Public Health England has said that rats do not carry infectious diseases in the UK.

“We want to provide a value for money service and will provide exceptions in certain situations where residents are unable to pay.”

Councillor Cartwright also said that the average private company can charge up to £400 per visit. He said the council charge would be for unlimited visits until the problem is cleared.

The council previously introduced a charge in 2007 but withdrew it in 2009 due to public anger over the value for money it provided.

Most authorities in Hampshire already charge to remove rats and mice including Southampton who charge £105, Eastleigh £72 and Winchester £80.