Friday, 8 July 2011

You Dirty Rat

I am sure we have all smelt a few bad things when we have been around Uncle Eric. This time my FoI request is because I have smelt another rat.

 Here is my latest Freedom of Information request to DCLG via the wonderful

Hello Chums

I must confess I am fan of evidence based policy making but I fully understand that sometimes policy based decision have to be made for political reasons.  When the twins are playing up and questioning why they cannot stay up, even after I have given them their nightly Red Bull and donut, I simply tell them because I say so – end of argument. I do not think I need to provide evidence that supports the case that children who do not get adequate sleep do not perform as well at school due to tiredness or conduct a randomised double blind longitudinal study to support my case.

What I do find questionable is when Uncle Eric makes policy decisions wrapped up with pseudo evidence in an attempt to give them legitimacy.  It is like Jennifer Aniston in the L’Oreal advert telling us “Here’s the science bit” – though sadly without the glamour. Although Uncle Eric’s hair is the nicest thing about him.

Uncle Eric has been banging on about weekly bin collections for as long as I can remember, though I think he may pipe down a bit now he has been out bossed by Caroline Spelman recently on incentivising a return to weekly bin collection. DEFRA 1 DCLG 0.

Uncle Eric has said, usually with a rasping sinister tone in the past:

"By ending the weekly collection, Labour has doubled the country's rat population since 1996 (to an estimated 80 million). We are only 20ft away from a rat any time".

 I am sure many would question whether it was Labour policy to force councils to move to fortnightly collection or whether this was simply localism in action – after all more Conservative councils have moved away from weekly collection than Labour – I thought Uncle Eric loves localism. The statement that I am most interested in is concerning the population and location of rats.

Whilst I am sure that Uncle Eric is never more than 20ft away from a rat I am sure he was not referring to poor Grant Shapps – who is I believe is desperate for promotion and will do whatever necessary to get the PM to notice his mad capped ideas but he is not a rat. (Perhaps a weasel, skunk or dingo would be more apt).

I have done a quick bit of research and according to wiki the UK rat population is estimated at 81 million. Wow this is the figure that Uncle Eric has been stating –well I looked at the source for this figure and it comes from the respected peer reviewed journal called The Sun – who have rarely been accused of making stuff up.  (See:  In the article it also mentions a 39% increase in the rat population since 2000. The article concludes with the suggestion that to understand what damage rats can do then suggests asking Cheryl Cole alongside a picture of Ashley Cole.  I must confess I have never seen an article in the Lancet end like this! The sources mentioned for this article are Rentokil – who may well be experts in rat catching but perhaps have a vested interest in talking up the number of rats – just an idea.

So please can you supply
           Any independent research in rat population and location that has been commissioned by DCLG or has been used to support statements made by Uncle Eric Pickles.

As an aside, if we find that Rentokil can conduct a census of the rat population and know where they live, then why not get rid of ONS and get the pest controllers to run the census next time – it should be cheaper and quicker.

It has been suggested that a possible reason for an increase in rat population is related to councils reducing expenditure on pest control and increasing charges.

So please can you supply

2)      Research conducted on the reduction of expenditure on pest control service by councils and the changes in charges for pest control services.

Alternatively if no evidence exist to support Uncle Eric’s statement then please say so – it won’t be the first time and sure won’t be the last. Fortunately though we are getting use to smelling a rat.

Yours ratting on you


1 comment:

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