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Council concerned by threat of Blandford Fly comeback

By Blackmore Vale Magazine  |  Posted: December 01, 2012

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The River Stour in Blandford Forum

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A RESURGENCE of the Blandford Fly could be caused by the withdrawal of funding by NHS Dorset from the treatment programme which has kept the insect at bay since the early 1990s.

The small black bloodsucking fly emerges during the summer and causes painful bites.

Serious concerns were expressed at a Blandford Town Council meeting on Monday at the prospect of preventative treatment being scrapped.

Councillor Esme Butler said: "We need to think of the health of our residents. We are being told it will be difficult to start up the treatment again if it is stopped. I feel very strongly that they are putting health at risk to save money."

A report to North Dorset District Council's policy review committee meeting on Wednesday revealed that other authorities contributing to the annual spraying treatment were being asked to make up the difference.

But a number have indicated they will not, and North Dorset, one of the biggest contributors of nearly half the £11,500 cost, could have to find an extra £1,600.

The fly, whose bite is particularly harmful to humans, has been responsible in the past for considerable nuisance in North Dorset, and downstream along the Stour.

The effective treatment to reduce the number of flies emerging in the spring has since 1993 reduced reported bites, from around 1,400 in 1988 to 17 in 2012.

The report from environmental health officer Roger Frost stated that NHS Dorset had decided that the treatment was not a public health priority and has withdrawn from contributing to the project for 2013.

Christchurch and East Dorset district council and Poole Borough Council have all indicated that they cannot contribute to the shortfall.

The report indicated that the estimated cost to the NHS of treating fly bites through primary care in the Blandford area alone exceeds the cost of current prevention.

Mr Frost asked members to decide whether to continue to contribute to the project, under what circumstances, and alternative appropriate action if funding of the project should cease.

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