Dundee City Council has rebuffed calls from a local MSP to scrap charges for pest control services, saying it would cost them some £300,000.
North East MSP Maurice Golden has called on the council to abolish the charges, which average around £87 per call out.
Conservative MSP Mr Golden argued the move would give residents a welcome relief in the midst of a pandemic.
He also said it could encourage residents who’ve been living with infestations to come forward for a solution if they’d previously been put off by the cost.
But city leader John Alexander said in response that scrapping pest control charges in Dundee would leave council chiefs searching for other areas of the budget to cut.
In a letter to Mr Golden, Cllr Alexander said: “Your proposed course of action would also result in £300k of cuts having to be made elsewhere in order to balance the budget.
“In addition, were we to provide a free service, even on a short-term basis, it is likely that we would be inundated with additional service requests, with our competitors seeing a corresponding reduction in their level of business.
“A position which sees a cut to council service budgets during a global pandemic and seriously harms existing businesses is not one which I can support and I think you may wish to consider the full impact of what you seek.”
But Mr Golden said the change could mean the difference between local families living in misery and comfort.
He told The Courier: “Scrapping these call-out charges is the right thing for a council to do in the midst of a pandemic.
“Other local authorities in Scotland have proved it is possible, and Dundee should be following suit.
“It’s not cheap to pay for someone to deal with an infestation problem, and clearly this will be an obstacle for many low-income families.
“It would be totally unacceptable for people to put up with living in this kind of misery purely because they couldn’t afford to have it addressed.
“I hope the council think again about this.
“In the context of council budgets and the pandemic, it would not represent a huge chunk of money.
“But it could be the difference between living in misery and comfort for families across the city, and is worth doing on that basis alone.”