Episode 11 Call the Council


Episode 11

Series following council officers. Local council officers take a superstore to task over spotlights keeping residents awake at night.


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Transcript


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From waste and recycling

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to pest control and trading standards.

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The taxes that we pay to our local councils

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are used to provide many of our most essential services.

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I like people who are keen to recycle.

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In this series, we follow the front line staff

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working behind the walls of Tameside Town hall in Greater Manchester.

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Like council officers across the country,

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these local heroes are waging war on those blighting our communities.

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Oi, oi! Excuse me, love, you can't do that.

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They're protecting us from hidden dangers...

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If there's rodent activity in your kitchen, you won't be opening tonight. It's that simple.

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..making sure our cash is spent on those who need it most...

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I'm at a loose end. I do not know where to turn.

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..and responding to their residents when they Call The Council.

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Coming up:

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The Council are forced to stage a clean-up of rotting rubbish

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blighting a neighbourhood...

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There was loads of stuff that was sufficient to attract vermin.

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..wage a war on cockroaches...

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That there is all the faeces of cockroaches.

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..help two young food business operators make the best possible starts...

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If you are a bit unsure about something give me a ring

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and I'll pop in and go through it with you

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and make sure you know exactly what you need to fill in.

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..and help a homeowner get a peaceful night's sleep

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when she calls the council.

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When the lights are on, it's reminiscent of runway lights.

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Some day an aircraft might come down.

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The United Kingdom's 433 local authorities are the heartbeat

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of the country, keeping homes and businesses running,

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chasing down rogue traders and protecting public money.

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East of Manchester, Tameside Council is determined to deliver

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the best possible service for and on behalf of each and every resident.

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On the front line of public protection

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stand enforcement officers like Phil Rodgers.

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Nobody likes to be told what to do.

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I think the British people in general have

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a reticence about people telling them what to do.

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But I'm not the overbearing, big, bad man from the council,

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although sometimes that has to be the case

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in order to get people to comply with what you want them to do.

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Today, Phil's been alerted to a house

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with a drive full of festering waste.

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On this particular occasion I was conducting an inspection of

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the property next door and I noticed as I walked past

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the property that there was a large collection of refuse in there.

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I took some photographs of it and I wrote a letter

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to the individuals at the property,

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asking them to dispose of this accumulation of rubbish.

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It's not been collected, they've not been disposed of,

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so I am going to make a legal demand

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that they move them by the issuing of a legal notice.

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Poorly managed waste poses a risk to public health.

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If left to fester it becomes toxic

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and a breeding ground for disease-ridden rodents

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and illnesses like salmonella, E.coli and deadly listeria.

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If you feel your community is being blighted by dangerous waste,

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you could call council officers like Phil

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and fellow enforcement officer Louise Ashton.

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After trying and failing to contact the homeowner,

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Phil and Louise are en-route to hand deliver the notices

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and, if anyone's home,

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ask them to clear the waste as quickly as possible.

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There are human issues at stake here

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and so me and my colleague Louise are going to

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attempt to at least make contact with the owner of the house

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and see if we can resolve the situation

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before it becomes necessary for us to take legal action.

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The purpose of this visit is to deliver notices primarily.

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-Yes.

-If we can speak to the owner,

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and try and get access to the property while we are here,

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and see if there is anything that we might be able to assist them with.

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-Shall we dance?

-Yes.

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But it's only as the officers arrive

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that the full scale of the problem surfaces.

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There was lots and lots of black bin bags full of household rubbish

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of all denominations and sorts and sizes.

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Bedding, bed sheets, duvets, covers.

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There was used kitty litter in bags.

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Just loads of stuff that was sufficient to attract vermin.

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No.

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-No.

-It doesn't look like anybody's in.

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'There was no answer to the door when we went, unfortunately,'

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and therefore we were sort of compelled to act

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from that point forward to get rid of it.

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Onward.

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It's a good job you've got me to pick these things up.

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Coming up, Phil calls in the council cavalry

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to clear the dirty drive.

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How many duvets? That must be about 30 duvets!

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Phil and Louise are just two of the UK's dedicated council officers

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battling on our behalf.

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They're joined by thousands of others nationwide

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whose numbers include pest control officers like Brian Whelan.

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Their mission is to keep pests like rats, cockroaches and pigeons

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under control and stop the spread of the diseases they carry.

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We share the UK with an estimated 18 million feral pigeons

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that can spread diseases like salmonella and tuberculosis.

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Their droppings deface buildings and structures

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and can in the long term destroy them.

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They also make pavements, ladders and fire escapes dangerous to use.

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Combined deposits weigh several tonnes

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and cost us £15 million a year to clear up.

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In Tameside after calls from concerned market traders,

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Brian's been waging war against the local pigeon population

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whose droppings have been blighting the market square.

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I know it's not a pleasant job,

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but someone has to do it unfortunately.

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By killing the pigeons lured into his traps

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and erecting signs to stop people encouraging them into the area by

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feeding them, Brian is campaigning hard to bring their numbers down.

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Can't get any plainer than that, can you?

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Please do not feed pigeons.

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The new signs have been in place for several weeks and now

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Brian's back to inspect his traps on the roof of the market hall.

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Jack of all trades, master of none.

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I probably took out about 3,500, 4,000 pigeons.

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in four, five years. That's not bad. Not bad going.

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No pigeons in the traps is a bad sign.

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It means the birds are still present in the market square,

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which in turn indicates that they're still being provided with food.

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The numbers have come down now

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because we've been catching anything up to 20,

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some days four, some days 20, some days 30 in the traps.

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So they've come down, there's only about 30 left there.

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I'd like to say that the signs are working but unfortunately I think

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there are still people feeding them and getting away with it.

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To keep the pigeons away from the area and keep the monuments and

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seating area clear of pigeon waste the council have introduced

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on-the-spot fines of £75 for culprits

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if they're caught feeding them.

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But it seems, even with the threat of a fine,

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some locals are determined to disobey the council.

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I've just been tipped off about a guy that's feeding the pigeons

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and the town management has had a word with him and he's ignored them

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so I'm going to try and get hold of him

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and catch him in the act now and explain to him

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the reason why we don't want him feeding the birds, so...

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hopefully we'll catch him in the act.

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They are now chucking it down on the right-hand side.

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'When we were going up to approach him,'

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he sort of had his hands down the side

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and he's walking as if he was just sort of shaking it down.

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'It just looked so wrong!'

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You can't do that round here. No.

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Stop doing it. There are signs over there that say do not feed the birds

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or anything like that.

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He was just bemused about it.

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He thought he was doing right.

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All you're doing is encouraging them to come down here,

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then I'm putting traps on and necking them.

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It doesn't make any odds, mate, they get plenty of food.

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No, what's happening is they're going underneath these stalls

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and cacking all over people's goods

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so the traders aren't happy about it neither, mate.

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You keep feeding them, you are just encouraging them.

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It's not against any law, mate. You can't feed them.

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No, but we can catch them and have them removed out of the way.

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You are feeding them and encouraging them to come down here

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and what will happen is you will start getting fined.

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So if you are happy to pay £75 fine every time you feed a bird,

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mate, that's fine by me. All right?

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So, jack it in, yeah?

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What they've got to realise is

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there's poor people who are at food stalls,

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people sat there eating food and everything

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and you've got these starlings and pigeons flying all around the place.

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I would want to eat here, you know what I mean?

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At the end of the day they are trying to do a trade.

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Then you've got traders there that have them flying underneath

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the market stalls and pooing on their goods.

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So it's not fair for them.

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And sometimes the only way to stop it is come down on people.

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And give them fines, and make them pay the fines,

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and then they'll stop doing it.

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I'm sure if I got a £70 fine,

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I'm sure I wouldn't feed a pigeon or bird.

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Not worth it for the price.

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With the bit between his teeth, this is one battle that this

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hard working council hero is determined to win.

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A key weapon in almost every local council's armoury

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is its Trading Standards team.

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They're charged with protecting us from rogue traders

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whatever business they're in.

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A recent study found that over 60% of us

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have been targeted by dodgy dealers.

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And the work of our council's Trading Standards teams

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directly saves us around £350 million every year.

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So while many of the council's investigations

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are motivated by a resident's complaint,

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an important scheme exists to help us avoid

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falling into the trap of using a rogue trader in the first place.

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We're getting a lot of complaints for your rogue traders,

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so, them going visiting the elderly, the vulnerable people

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in Tameside, going quoting from jobs and using scare tactics

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and getting them to pay extortionate prices

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and either not having the work carried out

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or being carried out very poorly.

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Across the country 53 local authorities operate

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the Buy With Confidence Scheme.

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The scheme's designed to provide us consumers

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with a list of trustworthy businesses and tradespeople

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that have been vetted and approved

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by Trading Standards officers like Nicola Briers.

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We found the Buy With Confidence Scheme, and we decided to adopt it.

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The idea was, was to maybe have 20 traders of different...

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You know, an electrician, plumber and that kind of thing

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and to approve them and just to give it out to our elderly

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and vulnerable residents and it just got more and more popular

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and everybody wanted it,

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it wasn't just the elderly that wanted this kind of list.

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Just general members of the public found it really useful

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and it's just grown from there, really.

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Vacuum sales and repair man Christopher Duffy

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is keen to be added to the approved list

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so he's called the council to apply.

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It's a brilliant scheme.

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They vet you that much and you have got to be established so many years.

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It stops dodgy traders.

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And it gives people the confidence who want to get, say,

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a domestic appliance repair,

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gives them confidence that they are getting

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the right person to do the job.

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Membership of the scheme is not granted lightly.

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Nicola is happy with Christopher's complaints history

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and customer references but is concerned about

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a potential anomaly in his business records.

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The only couple of things I wanted to check with you -

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I couldn't find your VAT number on the website,

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so that needs to go on unless I missed it...

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-I thought we had to put it up there.

-Yes.

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I couldn't see it on the website, unless I wasn't looking properly.

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Terms and conditions I couldn't find it.

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Joining the Buy With Confidence scheme, I think it will increase

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my business but it will give my customers

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a bit more confidence to call me out,

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or to buy stuff or to bring repairs in here.

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Obviously we've had people on the scheme that

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we've had to take off, you know, that if we do get complaints

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about them then we will remove them from the scheme

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so it is, there is a trust element there, that I'm trusting them

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that they are going to do a really good job and that's

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what I try to sort of drum in to them when I go and see them.

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Nicola also has to check that all communication

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with his customers includes his full business details,

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and his stall meets health and safety regulations.

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If Ann has an accident, I tell her to write it down

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-but I don't take any notice.

-See, I can't shut this.

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-No, you can't shut it, it's that full, isn't it?

-Yes.

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-At least you've got one.

-Have you got one, Dave?

-Oh, you see!

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-So I'm happy to put you on.

-Oh, good.

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Obviously we need to make sure them points are addressed

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and everything's made so I will be checking up on you,

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making sure that they are changed and everything and then you got...

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-even got some pens and a bag.

-Great stuff!

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Yeah, we got loads of pens here.

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-We'll never be short of pens.

-We are well happy now.

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The Buy With Confidence Scheme is being adopted

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by an increasing number of councils in the UK

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so if you want to find a safe, pre-approved trader,

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simply call your council.

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From Trading Standards to waste management,

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the demands we place on our local councils

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for the vital services they provide never stops.

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Of course.

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I can help with that.

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But faced with cuts to their budgets by central government,

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councils across the country are being forced

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to make difficult decisions about their services.

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It's staff in council call centres and receptions nationwide

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that are the first to respond when we call to complain.

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I don't think sometimes people appreciate

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the pressure that's on councils now.

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Sometimes, the services just can't run

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how people are used to them being run.

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Usually they want things doing

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and they want things doing now, as they say.

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With the current climate you do get

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some people who are very upset.

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You get some people who are in hardship.

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You get people that can be abusive.

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It's always our fault, obviously,

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but that's just...

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That's just what we have to deal with.

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You've just got to calm them down. Fingers crossed it gets dealt with

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and then we don't see them again in two weeks' time.

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Against the background of cuts,

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pest control officers like Brian Whelan

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battle on when their residents call the council.

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He's en route to get rid of some unwanted insects

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that have moved into someone's flat.

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We're just off to a job now.

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This gentleman's got cockroaches in his flat.

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And we are going to treat it again.

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There's quite a lot last time I was there,

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so I'm hoping they've come down in numbers.

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Having tried and failed once to remove the roaches,

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Brian's been called back by the flat owner

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because he wants them exterminated once and for all.

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I never think, "Oh, God, it's another rat job," or,

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"Oh, God, it's another cockroach." It never is, you know?

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It's something different all the time.

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I think if you look on it on that aspect,

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you know, then you'll stay with a blank mind

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and it's a blank canvas then when you go in,

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and you can actually go in and assess the job,

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realise what you're going to do, what bait you're going to use,

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where you're going to put it and everything.

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Cockroaches carry many diseases including salmonella,

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E.coli, Hepatitis E, diarrhoea and dysentery.

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Their shed skins and by-products have even been found to cause

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increased rates of asthma and allergies.

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They have a reputation for being indestructible

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but Brian's feeling bullish.

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Every pest you can get control of it.

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Er...it's just the fact that some take a little bit longer.

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Some aren't as quick at getting rid of them

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and it's just one of them things.

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This is one of the applicants we're going to use.

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It's a feed, it's the bait. It's a source that they feed off

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and then take it back and feed the young and everything.

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This is an insecticide spray. I'm just going to have a look

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and see what it's like, see how bad it is.

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Cockroaches don't wait to be invited into our homes.

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They'll access through any open cracks or crevices

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before living and breeding in dark, warm spaces

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like those behind fridges.

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See them on the floor?

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There's one running here now.

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That there...

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and that is all the faeces of the cockroaches.

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The reason why they tend to go for these backs of fridges

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and motors is these are insulated

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and also they've got the warmth of the motor so you've got the heat

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rising all the time so it's nice and warm for them for breeding in.

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I can't spray with an insecticide. The simple reason is

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it's electrical and there's every chance of it blowing up

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so we always use a gel,

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but we do have powders, but this stuff is absolutely fantastic.

0:17:490:17:55

As well as gels and insecticides like Brian's, to rid your home

0:17:570:18:01

of roaches you need to do a thorough clean-up to remove any sources

0:18:010:18:05

of food, water and excessive clutter that cockroaches love to live in.

0:18:050:18:09

Last time I pulled it out they just ran everywhere,

0:18:100:18:12

absolutely went everywhere. Today we've pulled it out,

0:18:120:18:15

there's about three or four of them.

0:18:150:18:16

There's a lot of babies knocking about but that's what you want

0:18:160:18:19

cos you're killing the adults, they are not going back feeding,

0:18:190:18:21

then the babies will come looking for food so the poison works.

0:18:210:18:24

It also helps to have a little bit of experience.

0:18:240:18:28

It's all right, you know,

0:18:280:18:29

doing all your book exercises and doing everything in a classroom.

0:18:290:18:32

but until you actually come out

0:18:320:18:33

and start doing the jobs on a regular basis,

0:18:330:18:36

that's when you start getting a feel for it and start knowing things.

0:18:360:18:39

Obviously you need your qualifications that are there

0:18:390:18:41

and everything but, at the same time,

0:18:410:18:44

experience is better than anything.

0:18:440:18:46

Gel laid, Brian's job is done.

0:18:480:18:51

The poison will get to work and the resident should soon see

0:18:510:18:54

and end to his infestation.

0:18:540:18:56

No matter how bad that particular customer makes it sound,

0:18:560:19:00

when you go to it and see it, I mean, you do think,

0:19:000:19:03

"God, this is bad," but you've got every confidence in the stuff that

0:19:030:19:07

you use and everything, you know that you will get it under control.

0:19:070:19:11

The primary priorities of our country's unsung council heroes

0:19:180:19:22

are protecting the public and serving their communities.

0:19:220:19:25

Sometimes this means putting themselves on the line

0:19:250:19:28

for the greater good.

0:19:280:19:30

A number of years ago, we were involved in cleaning up

0:19:300:19:33

a dirty house. The occupier turned from being

0:19:330:19:37

a reasonable person into an angry person

0:19:370:19:40

and came up the stairs towards us with an axe and a hammer.

0:19:400:19:44

I have been thrown out of a Chinese takeaway.

0:19:440:19:48

I felt I was doing my job but I could sense

0:19:480:19:51

that the owner was becoming increasingly annoyed with me

0:19:510:19:55

and then he actually just lost his temper

0:19:550:19:57

and he exploded and he ran me out of the business.

0:19:570:20:01

Today, enforcement officer Phil Rodgers is risking the wrath

0:20:070:20:12

of another Tameside resident.

0:20:120:20:14

He's already written to the owner of this private driveway

0:20:140:20:17

to demand the removal of rotting and potentially harmful rubbish.

0:20:170:20:20

But having received no response,

0:20:230:20:25

Phil and the council cavalry are taking matters into their own hands

0:20:250:20:29

by stepping onto the property and clearing up the mess.

0:20:290:20:32

-What do you reckon?

-A couple of hours.

0:20:330:20:35

The bin men will now do the work

0:20:360:20:38

that should have been the homeowner's job.

0:20:380:20:40

I'd be reasonably happy if we could get rid of most of the bags

0:20:430:20:46

with all the food waste in.

0:20:460:20:47

The old wooden furniture and plastic and stuff can stay

0:20:470:20:50

because that doesn't represent a vermin problem.

0:20:500:20:53

That'll go to the local tip.

0:20:570:20:59

The proper tip where it should have gone in the first place.

0:20:590:21:02

How many duvets is it? It must be about 30 duvets!

0:21:040:21:07

Hope that wasn't a Ming vase!

0:21:100:21:12

More like a minging vase!

0:21:120:21:15

You could live in here now, couldn't you?

0:21:190:21:20

Drive cleared and public health risk removed,

0:21:220:21:25

the clean up bill of nearly £200 will be sent to the homeowners.

0:21:250:21:30

As night falls in Tameside, most residents retreat

0:21:350:21:38

to the comfort of their homes, but like many of his council colleagues

0:21:380:21:42

nationwide, enforcement officer Phil Rodgers is still hard at work.

0:21:420:21:47

He's responding to a call to the council from a sleep-deprived resident.

0:21:470:21:50

I've had a complaint about some electrical light pollution

0:21:530:21:56

from the back of one of the superstores

0:21:560:22:01

so I'm just going to witness what she's experiencing

0:22:010:22:04

to see if she's got a reasonable complaint.

0:22:040:22:07

Anne Robinson says she's suffering from sleepless nights

0:22:080:22:12

because a nearby supermarket's lights

0:22:120:22:14

are shining directly into her bedroom.

0:22:140:22:16

When the lights are on it disturbs my sleep.

0:22:190:22:21

It's reminiscent of a runway lights.

0:22:210:22:24

And as we are under the flight path,

0:22:270:22:30

someday an aircraft might come down.

0:22:300:22:34

Down Great Norbury Street.

0:22:340:22:36

As the UK's population increases so does light pollution.

0:22:410:22:45

Today less than 10% of us enjoy a truly dark sky at night.

0:22:480:22:53

With 7.5 million street lights lining our roads

0:22:530:22:57

and floodlit warehouses operating around the clock,

0:22:570:23:00

neighbouring properties like Anne's are increasingly affected.

0:23:000:23:03

It's these white lights I think that she's complaining about.

0:23:080:23:13

Um...

0:23:130:23:14

So we'll have a wander around the front of the store and just see,

0:23:140:23:17

see in comparison to the street lights, how much brighter they are.

0:23:170:23:20

See, the problem we have with lighting is that a lot of the time

0:23:220:23:25

it's not directed in the right way.

0:23:250:23:28

So, if they wanted to light up the area surrounding the store

0:23:280:23:32

without affecting the nearby properties they really should

0:23:320:23:35

have a shield on the top, directing the light in a downward direction.

0:23:350:23:38

So we'll go and speak to her and see if we can find out

0:23:400:23:43

exactly what it is that's causing the problem.

0:23:430:23:45

If the light pollution is deemed excessive

0:23:460:23:49

and a therefore a legal nuisance, the council has the power

0:23:490:23:52

to demand that the lights are covered, restricted or removed.

0:23:520:23:55

Failure to comply could lead to fines of up to £50,000.

0:23:550:24:01

Is it Mrs Robinson? It's Mr Hodges from Tameside.

0:24:040:24:07

-Can we come in and have a quick chat?

-Yes, you can.

-Thank you.

0:24:070:24:10

Right, Mrs Robinson, what I want you to do is for you to show me

0:24:130:24:16

-how it's causing you a problem.

-Yes, right.

0:24:160:24:19

-So, is it causing your problem here, in your front room?

-No. No.

0:24:190:24:21

-Is it in your bedroom?

-It's upstairs.

0:24:210:24:23

-Are you OK to show me upstairs?

-Yes.

0:24:230:24:25

It just so happens you're right on a level with them, isn't it?

0:24:270:24:30

That's right. They are on from four...

0:24:300:24:32

-Is that the time they come on?

-Until about nine o'clock in the morning.

0:24:320:24:35

I'll just put the lights on.

0:24:350:24:36

Right, what I intend to do is I will seek to speak to

0:24:360:24:40

whoever has control over those lights

0:24:400:24:42

and find out what their exact purpose is.

0:24:420:24:45

Anne's spoken to the supermarket staff

0:24:450:24:47

but didn't achieve the desired effect.

0:24:470:24:50

Well, when I first went to see the manager...

0:24:500:24:54

-Right.

-..he said, "Oh, I'll look into it."

-Right.

0:24:540:24:58

And, for a while they turned some of the...

0:24:580:25:01

they turned the bottom lights off.

0:25:010:25:05

the ones up to the shed.

0:25:050:25:06

-At the bottom end? That doesn't affect you, does it?

-No!

0:25:060:25:09

-It's a 24-hour store that as well, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:25:090:25:12

-Do they stay on all night?

-Yes.

0:25:120:25:14

Right. I've already took some photographs from outside.

0:25:140:25:17

-Oh, have you?

-To give us an idea.

-Yes.

0:25:170:25:19

Without getting into the wherewithal of actually measuring

0:25:190:25:23

how bright they are and stuff,

0:25:230:25:25

we'll see if we can get some form of communication going

0:25:250:25:27

-between us...

-I also, unfortunate for me, I have double vision

0:25:270:25:32

so sometimes I come up and they're not just one, there will be two!

0:25:320:25:36

-One above the other.

-Twice as many lights for the price!

-Yes.

0:25:360:25:39

So I'll see to have a word with him in the next seven days.

0:25:420:25:45

If I was to say to you they'll turn them off at 10 o'clock at night?

0:25:450:25:48

-Sort of 10 until six or something like that?

-Yes.

0:25:480:25:50

I suppose that's an option but I would prefer them to be off all together.

0:25:500:25:55

Let me see what their intention is with those lights anyway

0:25:550:25:58

and towards the end of that seven days I'll be back in touch.

0:25:580:26:01

-I've got your telephone number, haven't I?

-Yes.

0:26:010:26:03

-Is that OK.

-If you don't I shall ring you!

-I'm sure you will.

0:26:030:26:06

Right, OK, thanks very much. OK, ta-ra.

0:26:060:26:10

I wouldn't like that outside my bedroom window, I'll be perfectly honest.

0:26:150:26:18

I think they are a little bit on the bright side.

0:26:180:26:21

There is definitely no shielding.

0:26:210:26:22

They are not angled, which are all the things they should consider

0:26:220:26:25

when they are this close to domestic property.

0:26:250:26:27

Time for Phil to take up Anne's cause, talk to the supermarket,

0:26:270:26:31

and try to bring an end to her sleepless nights.

0:26:310:26:34

If your wellbeing is affected by increasing light pollution,

0:26:340:26:37

call your council who will help find a solution.

0:26:370:26:41

As well as tackling issues caused by our ever-evolving way of life,

0:26:500:26:54

our country's plucky council officers are also charged

0:26:540:26:57

with combating the age-old problem of food borne illnesses.

0:26:570:27:01

Every year a million people in the UK suffer with food poisoning.

0:27:030:27:07

The estimated cost to the UK's economy is a massive £1.5 billion.

0:27:070:27:13

But by law, Council officers like Simon Ashton are required

0:27:150:27:19

to inspect and rate the hygiene regimes at all of the country's

0:27:190:27:22

food outlets from zero to five,

0:27:220:27:25

according to criteria laid down by the Food Standards Agency.

0:27:250:27:29

The national food hygiene rating scheme

0:27:290:27:33

is so that people know

0:27:330:27:35

what the hygiene standards are like

0:27:350:27:36

in that business.

0:27:360:27:38

Is that business going to produce a safe product to eat?

0:27:380:27:41

We are not Gordon Ramsays going in there,

0:27:410:27:43

telling them how to cook food or anything.

0:27:430:27:46

It's about, purely about food safety.

0:27:460:27:49

Once rated, food businesses can choose to display their scores.

0:27:490:27:53

Having the ratings on show informs our decision

0:27:530:27:56

to buy food from a particular outlet.

0:27:560:27:58

Simon and his colleague Monica Gartside's work

0:28:010:28:04

often goes on unnoticed by taxpayers like you and I,

0:28:040:28:08

taking place after hours or behind closed doors.

0:28:080:28:11

But their tireless work on our behalf plays a crucial role

0:28:130:28:16

in keeping us safe.

0:28:160:28:18

The old title for the job is called health inspector.

0:28:180:28:21

It is about inspecting business premises

0:28:210:28:24

and inspecting standards of hygiene.

0:28:240:28:26

If I find something that's a so-called imminent risk to health

0:28:260:28:30

then I need to take action immediately.

0:28:300:28:33

As well as keeping a watchful eye on established food businesses,

0:28:330:28:37

council officers like Monica and Simon also assist

0:28:370:28:40

new operators who are just starting up.

0:28:400:28:42

Bilal Ahmed has recently taken over a fast food outlet

0:28:420:28:46

that had previously been shut down

0:28:460:28:48

because of its shocking cleanliness record,

0:28:480:28:50

but he's called the council for help to turn its fortunes around.

0:28:500:28:54

I started up this business about two months ago

0:28:540:28:57

and spent about 10 grand to refurbish this business.

0:28:570:29:00

When I bought this business it wasn't very good,

0:29:010:29:04

too many complaints from customers as well.

0:29:040:29:06

So when I moved in I closed for two months to set up inside.

0:29:060:29:10

All new food businesses must register with the Council

0:29:100:29:14

within 28 days of opening.

0:29:140:29:16

The council will then carry out an initial inspection,

0:29:160:29:19

offer help and advice ahead of the opening

0:29:190:29:21

and later inspect and rate the business's hygiene levels.

0:29:210:29:25

Give me a quick tour of the business and what you do, where.

0:29:270:29:31

Monica begins by assessing the basics.

0:29:310:29:34

I always go to the hand-washing basin area first

0:29:340:29:37

because hand washing is really important.

0:29:370:29:40

It's vitally important to stop the spread of disease.

0:29:400:29:42

I'm just going to wash my hands.

0:29:420:29:45

So have you got any other soap, Mr Ahmed.

0:29:450:29:47

'What I often find on inspection'

0:29:470:29:50

is that there's either no soap or towels at the wash hand basin.

0:29:500:29:54

And towels as well. Have you got any towels?

0:29:540:29:58

I need paper towels.

0:29:580:29:59

It's not a good start and Monica's by no means finished.

0:29:590:30:03

You just need to give this a good old clean.

0:30:030:30:06

'I think a lot of people are quite nervous about me turning up.

0:30:060:30:11

'They're quite nervous about what I'm going to find.'

0:30:110:30:14

Do you use degreaser? Have you got any of those things?

0:30:140:30:16

I also think it's important to point out good practice.

0:30:160:30:20

'So it's not all about telling them what's wrong.'

0:30:200:30:23

Yeah, this is degreaser in a way.

0:30:230:30:25

You can also buy commercial degreasers that are very strong.

0:30:250:30:28

-Did you make that one yourself?

-Yeah.

0:30:280:30:31

What sort of date would you put on that if you made that yourself?

0:30:310:30:36

-I put three days.

-Right, OK.

0:30:360:30:38

Monitoring the temperature of the food is also key to ensuring

0:30:410:30:45

it's free from life threatening bacteria,

0:30:450:30:48

but Bilal's coming up short here too.

0:30:480:30:50

It's looking for 63 for this.

0:30:500:30:53

I think that's settling down, so that's too cold.

0:30:550:30:59

If the chicken can't stay at 63, it's two hours maximum.

0:30:590:31:04

It's been a tough test for Bilal,

0:31:040:31:06

but he's determined to improve and kick-start his fledgling business.

0:31:060:31:10

And with Monica's help he might just do it...

0:31:100:31:13

To be honest, you've done loads already.

0:31:170:31:20

He seemed to be genuinely interested in his business

0:31:200:31:23

and he wanted it to be as good as it could be.

0:31:230:31:27

You've made massive improvements from the previous owner.

0:31:270:31:30

If I were you I'd be aiming for five stars.

0:31:300:31:33

That's the top rating you can get.

0:31:330:31:34

It was lovely to meet somebody who was so enthusiastic

0:31:360:31:38

about what he was doing.

0:31:380:31:41

Monica will return to give Bilal's business a hygiene rating

0:31:410:31:45

from zero to five.

0:31:450:31:47

If he wants to get top marks,

0:31:470:31:48

he needs to make some important changes.

0:31:480:31:51

Clean and disinfect all the food equipment,

0:31:510:31:53

that includes the seals and all the fiddly bits, yeah.

0:31:530:31:56

If you could just get a really good degreaser and sanitiser,

0:31:560:32:00

that would be brilliant.

0:32:000:32:02

Then just to make sure hot temperatures

0:32:020:32:05

if you can't keep it above 63, just two hours.

0:32:050:32:09

And that's your copy there, keep the yellow one.

0:32:090:32:11

-OK, so thanks again for your time.

-Thanks so much.

-See you.

0:32:110:32:15

Bilal's on a steep learning curve.

0:32:150:32:18

Owning a food business is not easy.

0:32:180:32:21

I have to definitely do these things

0:32:230:32:25

because I want to improve my business.

0:32:250:32:27

Also I want to improve my hygiene score as well.

0:32:270:32:30

But Bilal isn't the only young entrepreneur

0:32:320:32:34

pinning their hopes on a thriving food business.

0:32:340:32:37

While he takes on board Monica's advice,

0:32:370:32:40

across town, it's the day of reckoning for

0:32:400:32:42

this cafe's new owner, Kirsty Booth.

0:32:420:32:45

She is about to experience her first hygiene inspection

0:32:450:32:48

from environmental health officer Simon Ashton.

0:32:480:32:52

The rating at the moment is a five rating.

0:32:540:32:56

so that's the best it can get, so I'm hoping

0:32:560:32:59

that everything will be fine today and we can keep it at five.

0:32:590:33:02

Kirsty's only recently started to manage this small cafe

0:33:020:33:06

in the local market hall.

0:33:060:33:08

I'm 20 years old, it's mainly a family run business,

0:33:080:33:11

my little sisters work for me, my older sister works for me.

0:33:110:33:15

It's quite nice, everyone chips in really.

0:33:150:33:19

I do have a little boy so it was for him really, for a future for him.

0:33:190:33:23

A good opportunity for a good life for him.

0:33:230:33:25

This inspection's also an opportunity for newcomer Kirsty

0:33:280:33:31

to get a helping hand and benefit from Simon's 20 years of experience.

0:33:310:33:36

Right, OK, first things first, I'll wash my hands.

0:33:360:33:38

He'll be checking everything from cleanliness to food temperatures,

0:33:380:33:41

ensuring that the cafe's customers are safe to eat here.

0:33:410:33:45

Shall we start at the back and then work to the front?

0:33:450:33:48

You all right? That's good.

0:33:500:33:52

That's nice and clean. That's good.

0:33:520:33:54

I will just check the hot water.

0:33:540:33:55

Those tiles are a bit discoloured, aren't they?

0:33:580:34:01

You are asking yourself all the time when you're doing an inspection,

0:34:010:34:04

that doesn't look too good, what's the risk with that?

0:34:040:34:07

-This is the fridge that you use for...

-Everything.

0:34:070:34:10

Right.

0:34:100:34:11

'You are doing a risk assessment in effect for everything that you'

0:34:110:34:14

find as you are going around so you can imagine in a catering

0:34:140:34:17

business there is a lot of things that we need to be looking at.

0:34:170:34:19

That's a really good temperature. It is showing two degrees.

0:34:190:34:22

That is excellent.

0:34:220:34:24

You keep your salad items in here?

0:34:240:34:27

Again that's fine, that's showing eight, that's great.

0:34:280:34:32

OK, good temperature.

0:34:330:34:35

The fridge is showing eight degrees, which is good.

0:34:350:34:38

So that's fine.

0:34:380:34:41

Simon's happy with Kirsty's overall levels of hygiene,

0:34:410:34:45

but there's still one vital area he's yet to check...

0:34:450:34:48

the paperwork.

0:34:480:34:50

So, let's have a look through here.

0:34:520:34:54

Every food business must use and comply with

0:34:540:34:56

the Food Management Safety pack.

0:34:560:34:58

It requires owners to keep records of their food hygiene practices.

0:34:580:35:02

These records go up to

0:35:020:35:04

mid-August and then you are into this diary section here.

0:35:040:35:08

But newcomer Kirsty hasn't been as vigilant as she should have been

0:35:080:35:12

and this could affect her rating.

0:35:120:35:14

OK, yeah.

0:35:140:35:15

The thing that's jumping out here really

0:35:150:35:17

is that you need to fill this pack in.

0:35:170:35:19

I get the impression that you have the procedures in place,

0:35:190:35:23

it's just you've not written them down. So, yeah,

0:35:230:35:26

you need to complete the staff training record sheets in here.

0:35:260:35:29

Yeah.

0:35:290:35:30

It can be quite difficult making a judgment, really.

0:35:300:35:33

but it's trying to get that balance of protecting the public

0:35:330:35:36

and, at the same time, you are fair to that business

0:35:360:35:38

and your actions are proportionate.

0:35:380:35:40

To be in a position to, say, give you a five

0:35:400:35:44

which would be moderate confidence,

0:35:440:35:46

I would have to say that you have written procedures in place.

0:35:460:35:48

Your cleaning schedule, the training records and that in the pack.

0:35:480:35:51

Unfortunately, you haven't really got that at the moment.

0:35:510:35:54

So what that means now is that your score will have come down to a four rating.

0:35:540:35:57

But, don't worry, what I would say is that

0:35:570:36:01

you are entitled to a re-rating visit after an inspection.

0:36:010:36:05

if you are a bit unsure about something,

0:36:050:36:07

give me a ring and I'll pop in and go through it with you

0:36:070:36:10

and make sure you know exactly what you need to fill in.

0:36:100:36:12

It's a small blow for Kirsty.

0:36:150:36:18

OK, well, thanks very much. Bye-bye now.

0:36:180:36:21

But thanks to Simon she's been given clear instructions

0:36:210:36:24

on how to win back her full five-star rating.

0:36:240:36:26

It's just another way that our councils work for us.

0:36:260:36:30

I was just expecting him to be more strict and a bit more...

0:36:300:36:33

I don't know, just not as nice as he was, I suppose.

0:36:330:36:36

Less helpful.

0:36:360:36:38

I wasn't expecting him to be the way that he was so it's been nice.

0:36:380:36:41

What you are finding with this scheme is that

0:36:420:36:44

businesses are really keen to get a good score,

0:36:440:36:47

so when we do an inspection now, and we say at the end

0:36:470:36:49

of the inspection, "You need to do this work," you can

0:36:490:36:52

guarantee that in a couple of months they'll ring you up and say,

0:36:520:36:54

"I've done the work, will you come back and re-rate my business?"

0:36:540:36:57

So it's having a really positive effect, not only in terms of raising standards,

0:36:570:37:01

but it makes our job easier too.

0:37:010:37:03

I grew up in Hythe, so I'm familiar with this market. You know,

0:37:030:37:06

I used to come in when I was young child, and you want it to do well.

0:37:060:37:10

Coming up: Monica returns to rate Bilal's takeaway.

0:37:170:37:21

but can he achieve a perfect score?

0:37:210:37:24

I'm hoping this time I can get five-star.

0:37:250:37:27

Back at the Council HQ, like officers across the country,

0:37:320:37:36

Phil Rodgers has been battling to improve

0:37:360:37:38

the lives of the people he serves.

0:37:380:37:41

Resident Anne Robinson called the council

0:37:410:37:43

to complain about the lights of a nearby supermarket

0:37:430:37:46

that were causing her sleepless nights.

0:37:460:37:48

When the lights are on it disturbs my sleep.

0:37:480:37:51

I will seek to speak to whoever has control over those lights.

0:37:510:37:55

Phil's phoned the manager of the supermarket on Anne's behalf

0:37:550:37:59

and has found a resolution to the problem.

0:37:590:38:01

If you put those conditions in place and that works out

0:38:010:38:04

that would really, really help us out and resolve the situation, no problem.

0:38:040:38:07

Yeah, OK, thanks very much.

0:38:070:38:09

OK, thanks, goodbye.

0:38:090:38:11

We've come to an agreement by which they'll turn the lights off

0:38:110:38:15

at an appropriate hour so they are not on during sleeping hours,

0:38:150:38:18

which is a satisfactory conclusion for us

0:38:180:38:21

because it doesn't involve us in having to involve ourselves in enforcement action.

0:38:210:38:26

So a local agreement like that is a much, much better resolution for us

0:38:260:38:30

and we are trying to work with business, we're not trying to get anyone's back up in particular,

0:38:300:38:34

so it's a much nicer arrangement to resolve it in that particular way.

0:38:340:38:38

This is a great result for Phil,

0:38:390:38:42

he's resolved the issue amicably, avoiding an expensive legal route,

0:38:420:38:46

and it's also good news for Anne.

0:38:460:38:48

Hello, Mrs Robinson, it's Mr Rogers from the council, can I come in?

0:38:490:38:53

I put my feelings in writing, having spoken to them

0:38:530:38:56

and they are quite agreeable.

0:38:560:38:58

They assured me that even if they were on, they would be off by ten.

0:38:580:39:02

That was the agreement that we sort of made and has gone into

0:39:030:39:06

-their procedures as what they have said they will do.

-Yes.

0:39:060:39:09

they said to me that they are a security purpose light,

0:39:090:39:13

that's what they are for.

0:39:130:39:14

-Is that OK, then?

-Yes, that's lovely.

0:39:140:39:16

-Fantastic. I'm glad it's been resolved.

-Thank you very much.

0:39:160:39:19

By calling the council, Anne is finally able to get a good night's sleep.

0:39:210:39:26

I'm pleased at what's happened with the lights.

0:39:260:39:30

I'm hoping now that they won't be on again.

0:39:300:39:33

Back at Bilal's fledgling takeaway, he's nervously awaiting another

0:39:430:39:48

visit from council officer Monica Gartside.

0:39:480:39:50

Last time, Monica uncovered hygiene problems in the kitchen.

0:39:500:39:54

Have you got any other soap, Mr Ahmed?

0:39:540:39:57

And towels?

0:39:570:39:58

You just need to give this a good old clean.

0:39:580:40:00

Do you use degreaser? Have you got any of those things?

0:40:000:40:03

She also found serious issues with the storage of cooked food.

0:40:030:40:07

That's too cold.

0:40:070:40:10

Monica's en route to inspect the takeaway and rate it.

0:40:120:40:15

Top marks will reassure customers

0:40:150:40:18

and give Bilal's business a welcome kick-start.

0:40:180:40:20

I just hope the officer, she likes it.

0:40:200:40:23

And I'm hoping this time I can get five stars.

0:40:230:40:25

-Hi, how are you?

-I'm fine.

0:40:270:40:28

To get the full five stars, Monica needs to be certain

0:40:280:40:32

that Bilal's done all she asked.

0:40:320:40:34

-Oh, you've changed it, that's new?

-Yeah, that's a new one.

0:40:340:40:37

It's a good start. Bilal has invested in a new hot food counter

0:40:370:40:41

to replace the faulty old one,

0:40:410:40:44

ensuring cooked food is kept at a safe temperature.

0:40:440:40:48

And this time there's a plentiful supply

0:40:480:40:50

of soap and hand towels at the sink for staff to wash their hands.

0:40:500:40:53

He's bought an industrial cleaning product to replace the weaker household brand.

0:40:550:40:58

And he's cleaned the kitchen thoroughly.

0:40:580:41:01

-That's fantastic, well done.

-Thank you.

0:41:010:41:03

Really great. Well done.

0:41:030:41:04

Having probed every corner of the takeaway during her inspection,

0:41:060:41:09

its time for Monica to complete the paper work

0:41:090:41:12

and reveal the all-important hygiene score out of five.

0:41:120:41:16

I did more extra cleaning and followed the proper procedure.

0:41:170:41:20

So I'm hoping this time I get a five-star.

0:41:200:41:23

Under the previous owners, the takeaway had been forced

0:41:230:41:27

to shut down as it posed such a threat to public health.

0:41:270:41:30

But for Bilal it's now the moment of truth.

0:41:300:41:34

How has Monica rated his new business?

0:41:340:41:36

So, I've done your scoring and we've a national scheme we have to follow.

0:41:380:41:43

-Yes.

-So that makes you a five-star business, so congratulations.

0:41:430:41:46

Thank you so much.

0:41:460:41:48

A five-star rating is great news for Bilal.

0:41:490:41:52

His investment and hard work has paid off.

0:41:520:41:55

It was just wonderful to see the difference and also the fact that

0:41:550:42:00

he'd gained his five-star rating as well, because he had covered

0:42:000:42:03

all of the issues that needed to be addressed in the business.

0:42:030:42:06

Today is a very good day for me and my family.

0:42:070:42:09

This was a very big task for me, but I done very well.

0:42:090:42:15

I can't believe I got five stars, I'm very happy today.

0:42:150:42:18

Thanks to Bilal's determination and Monica's diligence

0:42:180:42:21

after he called the council for help,

0:42:210:42:24

the business has the result it wants,

0:42:240:42:26

ensuring that this takeaway's customers can eat here without fear.

0:42:260:42:30

It's taken a huge workload off our hands, the fact that

0:42:300:42:33

he's now in charge of that business. I wish everyone was like him.

0:42:330:42:37

For the unsung council heroes and their colleagues

0:42:390:42:42

across the country, the battle to protect the public goes on.

0:42:420:42:45

They're keeping our streets free from other people's waste...

0:42:460:42:49

That will go to the local tip,

0:42:490:42:51

the proper tip, where it should have gone in the first place.

0:42:510:42:53

..saving us from illness by supporting fledgling food businesses ...

0:42:530:42:56

I can't believe I got five-star. I am very happy today.

0:42:560:42:59

And protecting the public purse while improving resident's lives.

0:42:590:43:04

I am pleased at what's happened with the lights.

0:43:040:43:08

I'm hoping now that they won't be on again.

0:43:080:43:11

All of this, when we call the council.

0:43:110:43:14

Fighting to right wrongs on behalf of the people they serve, local council officers are forced to call in the council cavalry to clear a driveway filled with festering refuse, take a superstore to task over spotlights keeping residents awake at night and help a young business owner turn around a troublesome takeaway.


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