Series following council officers. Tempers fray as the council trials a bin-swap scheme, and officers respond when locals call to complain about potholes.
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From Waste and Recycling
to Pest Control and Trading Standards,
the taxes that we pay to our local councils
are used to provide many of our most essential services.
I like people who are keen to recycle.
In this series we follow the frontline staff
working behind the walls of Tameside Town Hall in Greater Manchester.
Like councils officers across the country,
these local heroes are waging war on those blighting our communities.
-Excuse me, love, you can't do that.
They're protecting us from hidden dangers...
There's rodent activity in your kitchen, you won't be opening tonight, it's that simple.
..making sure our cash is spent on those who need it most...
I'm at a loose end. I do not know where to turn.
..and responding to their residents when they...
Call The Council.
Coming up, tempers fray as the council tries to save money
and persuade residents to change the habits of a lifetime.
-Landfill's been around for
-100 years, mate,
don't start saying we need to start changing it now.
Officers respond to calls from locals
being given a bumpy ride by potholes.
It's just horrendous, isn't it? It's had its day, this road.
And a hairdresser with a salon overrun by rats
calls the council.
I want the problem solved, no matter what it takes.
Almost two million people in the UK work for one of our 433 councils.
Funded by the taxes we earn,
they work hard to stretch every penny of their budgets.
From road maintenance and licensing
to waste management and pest control,
these local heroes manage a huge part of our daily lives.
Pest control? Yes, of course.
I shall put you through, one moment, thank you.
When someone calls the council for help in Tameside,
a borough of Greater Manchester,
officers are standing by to tackle their problems,
however big or small.
If I can go and I know that
I've done a good job, I'm happy,
and it doesn't matter whether that's a cockroach job, a rat job,
a ant job or wasps' nest, it doesn't bother me one bit,
as long as I know I'll leave that customer happy.
Today, pest control officer Brian Whelan is tackling a rat job.
Across the UK, the rat population has surpassed ten million.
In 2012, this led to a 25% increase
in calls to pest control teams,
as rats move from wet rural areas
in search of warmer spaces with rich food supplies.
Hairdresser Michael Agnello has a rat infestation in his salon.
He wants them out before he starts losing custom,
so has called the council.
It's not very nice.
Especially for my clients,
but I've been dealing with this problem for 12 months now,
so it needs to be resolved.
Brian respond's to Michael's call
by heading straight to the suspected source of the problem,
-Is it OK to check downstairs?
-It is. Yes.
As you can see, there's plenty of places for them.
They've cut through his pipes,
they've chewed through the plastic and everything, and it's a shame.
Rats leave a trail of evidence behind them -
none pleasant to deal with.
You can smell it dead strong.
It's like, with a dead one, when there's a dead one,
you can walk into someone's house and open the door
and you know they've got one somewhere.
There's no dead ones yet, at the moment, there's no dead smell,
it's just got the smell of activity.
The rancid smell point to rats being present for some time.
There's the remains of a dead one.
That's been dead for a few years, that.
It's not recent.
There's every chance that they're running through,
because this is all a void, so it's nice for them, it's nice and quiet.
You see, you got an internal sewer, you've got open pipe here.
That would be for seepage, of water.
These are not drains, it's seepage for water.
But if you think about it,
it's ideal for rats to get down there and hide,
if you see the outside there, that goes out, that drainpipe.
And then again up there.
So it's all passageways for them, it's ideal.
Brian conducts a thorough search of the whole premises
to try and establish where the rodents have reached.
There's a pipe going through the wall there.
And it looks quite active.
So I'll put some bait in that hole.
I'll put one in the hole,
and one on the shelf just below it.
Hairdresser Michael fears rats have accessed
every nook and cranny of his salon.
There's droppings up there.
I put some papers and they actually moved.
-We can hear sometimes.
-Over in that corner?
In that corner.
Yeah, you can smell it again.
It's just that, if you like, uriney smell.
Despite being filthy pests,
having rats doesn't necessarily mean your premises are dirty.
Rats will move into anywhere
with food, water and shelter.
They're great climbers and often access wall cavities
and loft spaces in search of warmth and protection.
With problems on every level of Michael's salon,
Brian needs to lay a lot of bait
to rid the premises of rodents before they affect the business.
Michael also owns a flat above the hairdressers.
His tenants have repeatedly reported scurrying sounds
and a rancid smell in their bathroom.
There's loads of droppings.
Brian must discover why.
They're been doing their business there for a while.
This hasn't just happened, no way.
The difference between rat and mouse,
a mouse is incontinent, as they're running they're dropping.
With a rat it tends to have an area that they do their business in.
So you will see a large amount of rat droppings.
Rat faeces on this scale are a serious concern.
The infestation must be controlled
to stop the spread of bacteria infections
such as listeriosis and murine typhus.
Brian needs to find the source of the rodents' food fast
and Michael's got his own theories.
There's a kebab shop next door, and a Chinese next door to that.
But I don't want to apportion any blame,
because at the end of the day it's not fair.
I want the problem solved, no matter what it takes, to tell you the truth.
Brian responds to Michael's concerns by taking his investigation outside.
There is an open drain there. That's ideal for them to come up and out.
So looking on this, I would presume that
that used to be an old outside toilet
when these were houses, years ago.
Now that hole there goes into the shop,
where that barbed wire is.
Obviously you wouldn't see all that, when he's looking round.
It's a shame, because, I mean, it's a tidy little shop and everything,
and it's not fair on the guy.
The rats' easy access into the salon can be fixed,
but Brian spots a bigger problem -
a potential food source in the back yards of the takeaways.
There's fat, so they'll feed off that,
Again, this one,
that's just full with fat and grease.
So that's another hotspot here.
I mean, potato peelings on there, that's not great,
there's millions of them.
I don't see the sense in that, that's just feeding them.
I don't see the sense in it one bit.
How big does the sign have to be?
Brian needs to report his findings to his colleagues
in the Council's environmental health team.
The food debris, open drains
and piles of rubbish
pose a serious risk to public health
and could be damaging hairdresser Michael's business.
Still to come...
Enforcement officers Simon and Bev tackle the food business head-on
to see if they're contributing to the rat problem.
It does look like there's some nesting material there.
The work carried out by all council officers
is funded by the taxes we pay.
Council heroes strive to make the best of their budgets
to improve all aspects of our communities,
from housing and hygiene to business rates
and even paying to park your car.
Every penny that we get from our residents
goes back into providing services for our residents.
So I know people don't like it when we put up the parking charges,
but that actually goes back into services.
It's not sat in a suitcase under somebody's bed.
Or paying in an offshore account in the Bahamas.
It's actually going back into services.
I get a buzz out of what I do,
I like to help people.
Overall, we try and help the benefit of the community.
I live in the community, I work in the community.
At the end of the day I like to think that I serve the community.
You'd like to think we're generally liked
and the people who don't like us,
there's a reason why they don't like us,
they've done something that they shouldn't have been doing.
The UK's local councils are being granted
increasing levels of autonomy, allowing them to tackle
the very specific needs of the areas they govern.
But no matter how diverse their region's make-up
and residents' requirements,
there's one issue that tops every council's list of complaints...
I think without exception
the biggest call we'll get through to the council
would be about a missed refuse collection service.
That's no surprise, we collect 45, 50,000 bins every single day.
If we miss a very small proportion of those and people contact us,
it's a significant number to deal with.
Every one of those is important,
but you can see why the numbers are high.
In Tameside, bin collections are about to be turned on their heads.
The council are trialling a new pilot scheme
aimed at reducing what gets put into landfill.
One of the most fundamental things we want to do
is make it easier for people to recycle.
The more capacity and more bins we can give you for recycling,
the less waste you will put into landfill.
In an ideal world, if we had lots of money,
we'd be buying new, larger recycling bins
and smaller residual waste bins.
We haven't got that money, that money isn't around
and it would be wrong of the council to spend millions swapping bins over
when we are closing libraries, children's centres,
all those other services.
The idea is simple.
Residents' larger grey bins,
that they currently use for general rubbish,
will be used for recycling,
and the smaller green ones for their residual waste.
The bin swap is a trial
to see if residents can be encouraged to recycle more.
It's not that much effort to do it,
but people find it sometimes a struggle to do it.
The team starts by leafleting door-to-door
to let residents know about the proposed change.
But as refuse collector Zac knows,
the public are often unhappy
with any changes to their collection routine.
Very upset about the bins at the minute.
There's been that many changes,
I think it just gets frustrating, they want to get into a set routine.
And it always gets changed around to try and make the best of recycling.
But asking residents to embrace the changes isn't going to be easy.
It's just changing things for the sake of changing.
As you can see, there's hardly anything in there.
I've got three kids,
I can't fit all my two weeks' rubbish in a green bin.
The council's aim is to save taxpayers' money,
and swapping bins might be one way to do it.
Currently Tameside Council is charged up to £300
for every tonne that goes to landfill,
so recycling more will save residents
a considerable amount of cash.
Times are very hard financially,
and what we don't want to be doing is putting waste into landfill.
The figures and the kind of numbers just drive that agenda forward,
so it is about landfill avoidance, really.
You might do it from an environmental agenda which is fine,
if that's what motivates people, that is great,
but there is also a very strong economic reason for doing it.
To spread the word
and get residents onside,
the council's set up an information point
where the waste management team can respond to concerns.
I've got a daughter who's got a child that's 18 months old,
and a child that's 12 weeks old. That bin in a fortnight
is going to be full up, probably, with nappies alone.
Somebody's got something wrong, haven't they?
The issue is, if we're going to recycle,
recycle in the most cost-effective way.
And that isn't, in my view,
necessarily putting four bins in front of everybody's house.
By taking all of your rubbish in one or two bins at most,
and using manpower as opposed to bins,
one, you ensure that everything goes to a point
where you can then separate it out, using manual labour.
I do know that staffing is one of the biggest expenses that we incur,
and obviously, I'm sure you probably,
as a local resident, have been aware now,
council staff generally have just been cut and cut and cut,
because that's our biggest expense.
Still to come...
The black one's the new green one now.
The bin swap swings into action,
but tempers flare as residents and council clash.
What about if I took the nappies out and a bit of cardboard,
-are you going to empty it or what?
-You're not leaving my bin for two weeks!
-If you go through that...
-It's only the top layer here.
The country's busy council call centres
are the first point of call for residents looking for help.
Good morning, Tameside Council, how can I help you?
Across England and Wales,
they receive and respond to over 50 million calls a year.
Let me just check the system. One moment, thank you.
Council staff here pride themselves on trying to help
every single caller that rings in.
Good afternoon, Tameside Council.
Oh, I love it, I absolutely love my job,
I can't wait to come in in the morning -
I'm the first one in, and probably the last one out most days.
Welcome to Tameside Council, Karen speaking, how can I help?
I remember a gentleman saying to me,
"I can hear the smile in your voice,"
and I think if I can portray that over the telephone
and I can help people, I'm happy with that.
I take a lot of pride in representing this authority.
If that was me on the end of the phone,
the way I deal with people would be the way I got dealt with.
It's fun, is a fun place to work,
it even has its lows as well,
and you can get your argumentative customers,
that's just part of what we do,
it's just what we expect, we don't expect anything less.
I think it would be a pretty boring place if that didn't happen.
Right, thank you, bye.
Ready to respond when someone calls the council
is Britain's army of heroic council officers.
Amongst their ranks are thousands of staff responsible for
managing and maintaining 240,000 miles of the UK's roads.
Doing this cost £2.2 billion in 2012.
Looking after the nation's roads is an enormous task.
In Tameside, the job of collating complaints
and requests for repairs falls to Hannah Clayton.
We get probably about 50 requests every half an hour, on average.
Sometimes that can be more, sometimes that can be less.
The most ridiculous are probably...
scary trees, that are getting tangled up in telephone wires,
And we did have one the other week,
about two bags of human faeces
being dumped near the canal towpath.
The department receives hundreds of calls a month
dealing with issues relating to all public paths and roads,
but the most common complaint is potholes.
This is an example of a carriageway defect report that we'd get.
Large potholes and raised manhole covers,
forces cars onto the wrong side of the road to avoid,
so obviously this could be quite dangerous,
so we'll send this to our risk management team.
Potholes not only annoy us road users, but in 2012
cost local councils across Scotland, England and Wales
£23.6 million in compensation for the damage they caused.
In a bid to stem the flow of public money from council coffers,
risk management engineer Steve Wild is hitting the streets.
I know we've got potholes, but...
you know, every road's got potholes,
it's just the nature of the way it is.
You don't want to be spending money on claims needlessly,
that money could be spent repairing your footways and carriageways
and obviously the funding is not great at the moment,
but we've got to deal with what we've got.
Today Steve's tackling a street riddled with potholes
after a resident, who's had enough of bumpy rides,
called the council to complain.
It's a really bad road, this.
It's like a minefield of potholes.
Steve's inspecting the damaged road ready for his team to respond
by filling any dangerous holes later today.
The complaint has come through as being
the worst section between 8 and 12, so we're at 21.
I just imagine it's down here where the main complaint has come through,
but there are certainly a couple of holes there that need filling in.
Give it another week or two, that could be a really deep pothole,
somebody could damage their car on it, have a trip or fall.
We need to repair it.
While the team is here,
we might as well start filling these up with bitmac.
Bitmac's a cheap material
that's become the council's quick-fix solution to road repairs.
It's far from ideal for a street with this many potholes.
It's just horrendous, isn't it? It had its day, this road.
It seems a waste, spending money on...
keep constantly repairing it,
you can see the old repairs here,
the existing road around it has gone.
It's bad, this.
It would be in your tens of thousands
to actually do a full reconstruction of this road.
And there isn't the money to spend,
so we're just having to repair things
and you're just papering over the cracks, aren't you?
It upsets me, the fact
that there isn't the funding maybe to do this road.
Cos we are going to constantly get complaints about it,
it's never going to go away until it is,
but when that will be, I can't tell you.
There's a massive pothole there, isn't there?
Steve and the team will try their best to fill the holes,
but in March 2014 their battle to balance budgets
received a welcome boost from the government.
Lose a car down this one.
Thanks to one of the worst winters on record,
the UK's councils received an additional £140 million
to fix the most damaged roads.
In the UK, it's said we're never more than six feet away from a rat.
In Tameside, it's pest control officer Brian Whelan's job
to kept them at bay.
His latest battle is at an infested hair salon.
On his last inspection, Brian discovered
some possible causes for the rat's presence -
old potato peelings and general waste from nearby takeaways.
How big does the sign have to be?
With the waste posing a serious health and safety risk
by attracting disease-ridden rats,
Brian has called upon his colleagues
in the council's environmental team
to rid the area of their rich food source.
Officers Bev Hursthouse and Simon Ashton have recently given
the neighbouring Indian takeaway a clean bill of health,
so their next task is to investigate the Chinese food outlet.
Why is that dog sliding off?
Unique way of using potato peelings.
As much as we'd try and encourage composting and recycling,
it is probably not an ideal place to be doing it
outside a food business, unfortunately.
That's a first, I've not come across that before.
Outside a food business.
Bev and Simon need to check that
the takeaway's cleaning regime and management of waste
isn't putting their customers' health at risk
or encouraging vermin into the business.
We're from Environmental Health,
come to do a routine inspection of your shop.
Today they're carrying out an unannounced inspection of the whole premises.
Are you aware that we have got a rat problem
in that area at the back, are you aware of that?
They are quite keen on coming and eating your potato peelings.
-I need to really discourage...
If you're leaving them out, the rats and mice,
they just come and take them and obviously it's attracting.
Most food businesses have a contract with a pest control agency in place.
This ensures they don't suffer with unwanted vermin,
but this takeaway doesn't have one,
so officers must be convinced
they're carrying out their own thorough checks.
Evidence of rodent activity could force closure.
We're looking for any signs of any droppings or anything like that,
if there is a pest problem, making sure there's no droppings,
and just looking at general cleanliness.
There's just a bit of cleaning under there, really,
in the corner, you need to get in there.
In the storage area Simon spots a potential problem
and asks Bev for a second opinion.
Yes. There's definitely...
definitely some chewed paper and droppings here.
OK, what it looks like is that
it does look like there is some nesting material there.
The problem that we face,
within the food industry, within the food businesses,
is the diseases that they can spread,
they don't come from nice clean places,
they tend to hide out in the sewers as well.
So what they're bringing with them is obviously...
The contamination is there as well.
This is the worst bit, really, this storage area.
Before closing this place down the officers must decide
if the evidence of rats is old or new.
There's an awful lot of clutter,
it's just not easy to get to anything, really,
to monitor any pest issues.
There's no contract in place here at the moment,
so they are alleging that they're doing own checks here.
But, as you can see today, Simon and I are struggling
to get into the places to do worthwhile checks, really.
In the food preparation area, they find more evidence.
A few, but there's not that many.
Look quite old, to be honest, don't they?
I think the best way to leave it
would be give them some cleaning instructions.
And get pest control in, the contractor in.
Bev and Simon find no fresh evidence of rodent activity
so decide to throw the owners a lifeline.
Now what we've seen,
it looks like they may be some old droppings, OK?
There's no indicator that there may be some new droppings.
Once you've cleaned, I think you need to appoint a pest officer
to come and do them checks for you, and lay some traps down,
just to see if they have got any activity going on.
You could make people poorly,
because you could contaminate their food.
At the moment it looks like it might be an old problem.
But we need a proper, professional pest control man
to come in and check the premises, and put some bait down,
and make sure there's no activity.
Don't be sorry, because it's your business,
your livelihood, at the end of the day.
You need to obviously be looking out for yourselves, as well, don't you?
You need to be keen to get it right.
Yeah. I'm keen.
You start cracking the whip.
Yeah! I clean.
To ensure their food waste and general hygiene
isn't contributing to the hairdresser's rat problem next door,
the officers give them one week to clean up their act.
When the council make any changes to their services,
it's local residents that ultimately foot the bill,
so officers are always keen take on board their thoughts.
Especially when it comes to a hot topic like recycling.
From a recycling point of view, I've got four bins,
which I think is a good thing,
as long as the stuff IS recycled
and doesn't just go to landfill
on the other side of the world somewhere.
I'm all for recycling, I hate waste.
But if you're an elderly person, for example,
or somebody with poor eyesight,
it's going to be a bit awkward, isn't it,
if you've got to keep chopping and changing your bins over.
The recycling process
is very confusing,
because you got four bins,
you've got to have a sheet now
to tell you which bin goes out on what day.
It's good for the community, everything is recycled.
My bin never overflows, I will give them top marks for that.
All UK councils are on the hunt for smart ways to save taxpayers money.
In Tameside, they're trialling a pilot scheme
aimed at reducing the amount of rubbish residents send to landfill.
So far, the scheme hasn't been met with universal approval.
That bin, in a fortnight, is going to be full up,
probably with nappies alone.
Recycle in the most cost-effective way,
and that isn't putting four bins in front of everybody's house.
Somebody's got something wrong, haven't they?
Residents have been asked to put their recycling
in the large grey bin that was being used for general waste,
and put their residual rubbish in the smaller green one.
Today the council's refuse team are coming face to face
with the public's reaction to the new regime.
Just the sticker of the bin, they've pulled it off and put it in the bin.
They're not bothered. The bin can't be emptied.
What comes out of the bin in the kitchen,
the household waste...
-It goes in your green.
go in this one out.
It's a bin swap.
-Why have we not been told?
-Everybody's been notified,
we've had a caravan up on Springs Lane
so everybody can go and ask questions.
I didn't know that.
Everybody's had a letter.
-Everything what's in there, should go in what colour bin?
That should all go in the green.
So if I put that in the green bin, when is that collection?
When is that collection?
-It will be a fortnight, now.
-Right. All right.
It needs time for people to get used to the idea.
People don't like change.
If every resident had a skip, they'd fill it,
they'd fill it with everything.
There wouldn't be enough.
There'd still be more.
Sometimes I wonder where they get their rubbish from.
I feel sorry for the people who have families,
because the green bin is not big enough.
If it were as big as the black one it might work,
other than that, no.
I know it's all part of the job. Used to it now.
If there's any general waste in the new grey recycling bin
then the whole lot has to go to landfill,
defeating the object of the bin swap pilot.
Can this one go in, Steve?
Got some plastic and, like, nappies and stuff.
No, not if there are nappies in it. That's all domestic, that, isn't it?
The refuse collectors can also refuse to empty it
on their recycling collection round.
You don't know anything about the bin swap?
It starts today.
So we can't empty that one, it's contaminated.
It's got cardboard in it, and that?
It's got nappies in it as well.
Whose it is, that bin?
'I think people get really angry'
and worked up about bins,
because it's the main thing that people see for the council tax.
You're emptying everybody else in the street,
and now my bin is going to be full for two week.
I've got kids, I've got four kids,
and I'm not having my bin
-looking disgusting on the front, full of
So for their...
A lot of money that they fork out - depending on where they live,
it's a lot of money -
the very first thing they see is the bin service
and if we can't get that right, they're angry with it.
There's going to be thousands of people round here
what have mistakenly put something wrong in the bin outside.
All there is in there is a little bit of cardboard and nappies.
What if I took the nappies and a bit of cardboard, are you going to empty it, or what?
You're not leaving my bin for two week.
-If you go through that...
-It's only the top layer here.
No, it's not the top layer.
-Put them in there. They should be in there.
-I'm not digging in it.
That's your job, innit?
My job is to dig through bins?
Why it matters, it's all about landfill.
Why does it matter? Why does it matter now?
-Landfill has been around for
-100 years, mate,
don't start saying we need to start changing it now.
Cos landfill has been around for years.
That's what they're saying. This isn't us, this is the council.
You need to learn your job, bro, you haven't got a clue.
-Will you empty my bin?
-I'm not going to talk to you any more. No.
It's not very nice, it's not the worst we've had.
You just take it on your chin,
I think, fair enough,
if that's how you want to be.
-Nothing new, is it?
-I am glad I am not like that
because the last thing I'd be doing
is going out accusing anybody doing a job,
cos you're aiming at the wrong people.
The powers that be decided that no more landfill,
enough is enough, and we need to recycle.
We got to do something, we can't ignore it,
because again, it's all about cutting down
on the cost of things that go to landfill,
and again we get money back into the kitty
for everything that goes to recycling.
So it should be a win-win situation,
and I just hope it does work for them.
Still to come...
Two months into the pilot, officers are out on the streets
to see if the scheme is bedding in with residents.
10 out of 10.
Just what we like.
Across the UK, local councils spend an average of £50,000
repairing every damaged mile of road.
But our councils' responsibility to us road users
doesn't stop at repairing them.
Right, ready to go.
Whether it's gas repairs,
works to water mains or electrical maintenance
they also manage and control the work
utilities companies do on the road network.
Today a resident has called the council
about some gas works that have been completed
but are still causing congestion.
Risk management engineer Steve Wild is en route to investigate.
I've worked for the council for nearly 26 years -
there's not many roads I don't think I haven't been on to,
or worked on, or inspected them in some way, shape or form.
His job is to assess the danger levels
of the roadworks in question.
Looking at this job here now,
this is a National Grid utility job,
it should have finished yesterday, but it's still here today.
It's quite a busy road, Acres Lane,
it's one of our busiest sections of road.
It's causing a nuisance, it doesn't need to be here.
It looks like the work is finished,
or if it hasn't finished they should have been asking for an extension.
Local authorities give utility companies
permission to conduct any work on public roads.
They impose strict time frames on the work
to reduce traffic congestion.
Failing to complete the work in the allotted time
will result in fines of up to £3,000 a day.
Still warm, actually,
so they probably have been and reinstated it this morning.
But there's no reason why that can't be open to the public now.
And get these off there, minimise traffic congestion
when it come to the rush-hour tonight.
There's a reason why they have had to do the work,
but they've got to keep the time
when they are occupying our roads to a minimum.
That's why the fines are in place.
And Steve's latest troublemakers
are likely to be receiving a hefty bill for this over-run.
But further along the street
there's another set of roadworks that also look to have over-run.
The council is who receive all the complaints
regarding things like this,
and obviously we have to come out
and proactively deal with stuff like this.
But obviously you can see it's not Tameside doing the work here,
it's obviously essential gasworks.
If any member of the public wanted to ring up,
all they'd have to do is quote this number,
and basically we could identify the job immediately.
It's not too bad now, but come three, four o'clock,
this street is going to be backed up either side,
so the fact that this job is here today
is hindering traffic users for another day,
which warrants the £3,000 charge they're going to get charged today.
I should imagine as soon as they receive that in their head office
they will be out and they will clear this.
Steve's swift response to dealing with the congestion issue
will be great news for the residents who called the council.
Also working hard with residents firmly in their minds
are the council's environmental health officers.
They're tackling a rodent problem that's threatening a hairdresser's.
After food waste was reported behind a neighbouring Chinese takeaway,
Bev and Simon are back to see if they've cleaned up.
Hi. Are you OK? You have been cleaning?
-Cleaning, loads and those of cleaning.
They start the inspection in the alley
where the waste was potentially attracting rats.
Yes. That was the potato peelings, wasn't it?
So you've covered...
-No tatoes in there now.
-That's much better.
-This is no good. Sorry about that.
With the council's support,
the owner has been working hard to make improvements,
but Bev needs the whole street to pull together
and keep the rats away permanently.
What we're going to try and do, you see, we've agreed,
he is going to remove that rubble,
so if we are all working together
to try and combat the problem, that is going to be moved.
But has the work continued inside?
It's much better. Good. Much better.
But it needs to be continued. You need to carry on cleaning.
With the immediate risk to public health alleviated,
the owners have played their part in ridding the area of rats.
It's looking better.
What I think we'll do is put the next list in place now,
and get the next actions done, really.
But to be fair,
we urgently requested he got a pest contractor, which he has done,
we asked him to put in place a safety management system,
which he's done.
When you've got a block of shops like that
and there is a potential problem, sometimes it could be drainage,
in which case they're all involved.
Sometimes it is the food businesses, I'm not going to deny that,
and they are putting the waste out
and not having it in a container and not doing their bit,
but in this case I am going to support the food businesses
and say, no, it wasn't them.
All right, we'll speak to you soon.
Because the only evidence of rodents Bev found was old,
she's now confident the recent infestation
isn't down to the takeaway.
She informs her colleague, pest control officer Brian Whelan,
and now he's revisiting the hair salon
to see if they've noticed a reduction in rat activity.
Not there yet. Because I can still smell them.
With the scent of rats in the air,
Brian checks to see if any have taken his poisonous bait.
If the bait is still present, the rats haven't been back to this spot,
which could mean there are dead ones elsewhere.
That's still in place, down below.
That's not gone this time, thank God.
I think it's calmed down.
But I still feel obviously there's a little bit of a rustle downstairs,
and we are still finding up in the back room,
there are a few noises, a few scratches.
Brian suspects the rats are using old pipes to access the building.
He follows his nose down to the cellar to investigate further.
A natural smell of a rat, it's hard to explain.
Dead ones, easy to describe,
because it's like a mixture between boiled cabbage and a bad gas smell..
There you go, there's your smell.
I feel sorry for any person who gets a rat or any pest in the house.
I do feel sorry for them.
And at the end of the day, that's the reason why they've got me.
It's great news. The rat population in this business has been reduced,
and without a food supply from the neighbouring takeaways,
hairdresser Michael should soon see the end
to his frustrating infestation.
Yes, I've got a rat, I'm happy, job's done, I'm pleased.
And over the coming months,
Brian will keep working with Michael
to ensure the rats stay well away from his salon.
Across the borough, the council's bin swap trial
has been running for two months.
Today, the bin men are collecting the larger grey bins
that are now being used for recycled waste.
The trial hasn't been met by the universal approval
of its residents, so waste and recycling officer Louise Ashton
is keen to see whether attitudes have changed on this street.
Oh, that's a full one. 8 1/2.
That shouldn't really be in it.
But the majority...
You can have a little bit of contamination,
but if you extrapolate... that's a good word, isn't it?
..extrapolate it up, across the round,
you don't want to get up above a couple of percent,
otherwise we're going to start getting knocked back,
but I think that would be OK.
They've made such an effort to fill it,
that I certainly wouldn't want to be funny about
a bit of tissue and a biscuit packet.
The pilot still has several months to run before any decision is made
about rolling the swap out to all of the borough's residents.
10 out of 10.
Just what we like.
Could do with some gold stickers.
But it seems despite its shaky start residents could be being won over
by the persistence of their local council heroes,
whose aim is to simply save them money.
What we've got
right across the four pilot areas
is a big increase in the recycling rate, a big increase.
And we've got the corresponding drop
in the amount of waste that we're sending to landfill.
The council has only got one pot of money,
so if we're not spending it on expensive landfill,
we can potentially spend it on social services
or other priority services that that community desperately needs,
so that's where we are at the moment.
It's been another successful shift for this local council
and its heroic officers.
They've bravely tried to help their residents
reduce, re-use and recycle...
Someone's had a good weekend.
..battled to keep the roads pothole-free
and the traffic flowing....
There is no reason why that can't be open to the public now.
..and helped local businesses work together
to rid their street of rats.
-That's much better.
-This is no good, sorry about that.
But most importantly, they've worked tirelessly
to help their residents when they... Called The Council.
If it is something that potentially could make you poorly
or could cause you harm or could cause any further harm,
absolutely get in touch,
by all means give us a call and we can assist you further.
Tempers fray as the council trials a bin-swap scheme aimed at saving residents money. Officers respond when locals call to complain about potholes, and a hairdresser with a salon overrun with rats calls the council for help.