London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Holborn 1928

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Holborn Borough]

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(2) The services of the Council's workmen were available for rat proofing
subject to the cost of such service and the material used being defrayed by the
owners or occupiers of the premises where the work was carried out.
(3) Arrangements were continued with firms of rat catchers for dealing with
rat infested premises at the cost of the occupiers. This arrangement has proved
useful and reports are from time to time received from the rat catchers employed
respecting their inspections of the premises and the work ultimately carried out.
Where rat catchers are employed under the arrangements made by the Council,
information is given to the Medical Officer of Health by the firms employed
as to thei work done and the results, but in many cases these or other firms are
called in apart from the Council's arrangements and information in such cases
may not be given to the local authority.
The question might be thought worthy of consideration whether it would be
advisable and useful if statutory obligation were placed on all persons carrying
out rat repression work to notify the presence of rats to the local authority. In
the absence of a statutory obligation to do so, it would be unreasonable to expect
the contracting firm to notify,, as strong objection to such action might be taken
by occupiers. On the other hand, knowledge of the presence of rats in a particular
building might enable the local authority to initiate concerted action by owners of
other property in an infested block and so enhance the prospect of dealing effectually
with the pest. The firms who undertake rat repression work in the Borough
under the arrangements made by the Council have agreed to furnish information
of all their work in the Borough.
During the year nuisances from the presence of rats were reported in, one of
the market streets; steps to deal with the matter were taken by the occupiers of
various premises concerned, but the nuisances recurred. A suggestion was made
that the rats entered the infested premises from under the footway. The co-operation
of the Borough Surveyor was invited and as a result of action taken by him four
disused drain connections found in front of vacant land in this market street, and
some other places in the sewer where rats could get through, were bricked up.
The relaying of the footway in the street also received attention and where any
signs of rat runs were found these were broken down and filled with rough ground
and broken glass.
Rat Week.
In the observation of Rat Week in the Borough we endeavoured as in previous
years to secure during the six days, 5th to 10th November, intensive action and
co-operation by occupiers in rat infested blocks. As a corollary to this, the
importance of systematic routine work for the exterminaion of rats and the
prevention of rat infestation was emphasised.