SIGHTINGS of rats in the centre of Uttoxeter have sparked criticism of a council's decision to axe its pest control service.
East Staffordshire Borough Council announced last year it was axing the service to save £60,000 over the next two years.
The service, which has been in operation in East Staffordshire for more than 35 years, ceased by March 31.
But councillors say the decision could come back to haunt the borough council after sightings of rats near Town Meadows Way.
Town and borough councillor Andrew Riley says he has spotted "at least" ten rats by the bus stop near to Tesco in recent weeks.
He said: "The problem has been reported to me and I have seen it for myself.
"It does bring into question why the borough council decided to axe the service last year.
"They seemed to get rid of it without any advice on what people must do when they need a service like this.
"There are health and safety concerns. People don't know who to turn to."
Former MP for Uttoxeter, Janet Dean, says she has also seen rats in the town recently.
She said: "I have actually seen a rat in the town in daylight, which is very unusual.
"It does seem to be a problem which isn't getting any better.
"But nobody seems to know what to do about it.
"I have written to the borough council about the problem, but haven't had a response yet."
Mayor and borough councillor Martin Blencowe, said: "I understand from witness reports that the Town Meadows Way has been mentioned as a general location but not identified along with a property location, whether recent high water levels in the area have moved them on I do not know.
"If there is a problem it will need the borough council to investigate as the matter falls under their jurisdiction particularly as it would seem related to a general area and not a particular property."
In 2009 the council carried out a review into the service, and decided to implement ‘nominal’ fees from April 2010, but the move was proved insufficient at making up for its losses.
It is estimated that the authority will save £60,000 from April 2012 to March 2014
Councillor Robert Hardwick, Deputy Leader for Regulatory Services said:
“Following the council decision earlier this year to withdraw from the non statutory part of this service and tackle the source and not the symptom, the council continues to strategically bait the sewers in Uttoxeter . In order to advise the general public the council have purposefully put a great deal of effort into the website to help answer frequently asked questions.”