Episode 2 Call the Council


Episode 2

Series following council officers. Environmental health officers battle to protect the public from food poisoning when evidence of mice is found in a takeaway.


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Transcript


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From waste and recycling to pest control and trading standards,

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the taxes we pay our local councils are used to provide

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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 working behind the walls of Tameside town hall

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in Greater Manchester.

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Like council officers across the country, these local heroes

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are waging war on those blighting our communities.

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Oi, 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.

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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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Council officers battle to protect the public

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when mice move into a takeaway...

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Britain's got a mouse problem. They need to resolve that first.

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They come from outside, not from inside.

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..get elbow-deep in rubbish looking for the culprit of a botched Italian recycling job...

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Look!

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It's not me.

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Are you sure? I'll check on the CCTV!

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..and respond when residents call the council for help to keep warm.

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The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, as they say,

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or in the heating!

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There are 433 local authorities in the UK,

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employing over two million people.

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Tameside Council and its dedicated staff stands proudly

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at the heart of the Greater Manchester Borough it serves.

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Be it food hygiene, pest control, health or waste manage management,

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like town halls nationwide, council officers here work tirelessly

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on behalf of their residents,

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especially when they call the council.

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Environmental services, Bev Hursthouse speaking.

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Across the UK, local council officers like Bev Hursthouse

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protect us all from the hidden horrors of food-borne germs and disease.

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Hygiene, I would definitely say, is more important

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than what colour the wallpaper is, more important than what colour

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your seating area is,

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because the colour of your wallpaper or your array of seats

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isn't really going to make anybody poorly

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but behind closed doors, there's so many risks there.

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The most recent survey suggests that around a million people

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in the UK suffer from food poisoning each year.

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By law, all food outlets in the country have to be inspected

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and their standards of food hygiene rated from zero to five

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by officers like Bev.

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The rating gives the public the chance to see behind the closed doors

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and if the businesses are doing well and they get a good four or five,

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they're proud to display that.

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But businesses don't have to display their ratings

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and rarely do when they've been scored as low as zero.

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A one-star rating to a business is indicating that major improvement is required.

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It could be a number of things, going back to something structural,

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it could be staff training, it could be cleaning issues. It could be a number of things.

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It's usually a few things when it's a one -

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it's usually a couple of items that need addressing.

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These ratings are invaluable for us customers,

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but council officers also categorise food businesses

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to decide how frequently they need to carry out inspections.

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Decisions are based on the businesses' compliance

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with the code of practice laid down by the Food Standards Agency

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and the subsequent risk they pose to public health.

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A 'C' rated business is classed as low risk

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and will be inspected every 18 months.

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A 'B' every 12,

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but risky 'A'-rated premises will be visited every six months.

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Today, together with Sian Dyer, Bev is making a visit to a takeaway

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serving everything from pizza and chips to curries and kebabs.

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Is it OK if we come through?

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This business was rated as a C, low risk, but when Bev made her routine inspection a week ago,

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she had some serious concerns about its backyard.

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It was filthy and attractive to rodents.

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On my last inspection, there was quite a lot of build up out here

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so we asked for the area to be cleaned and any food items

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such as the oil to be covered,

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they've done a really good job, actually - they've cleaned this really, really well.

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But they've missed one vital spot.

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They need to pest-proof this door, there's quite a large gap under there

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which is potentially an area that any vermin could get into.

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This crack is an open invitation to disease-ridden vermin

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who have food waiting for them in the cellar.

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And it looks like they've found it.

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Mouse droppings.

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Have you had any problem with mice at all?

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-Have you found any mice?

-We found some droppings.

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That's why we've called this guy in tomorrow, innit?

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All rodents carry diseases that pose a serious risk to public health.

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They spread bacterial infections, like salmonella and leptospirosis

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by contaminating work surfaces with their faeces.

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What's good is you have your contractor guy coming in tomorrow,

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but we need to realise is we've got a mouse problem today.

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Britain's got a mouse problem, rat problem. They need to resolve that first.

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They've come from outside, not from inside.

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If I could just have my say, the business owner's got a duty

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to make sure he's protecting his business

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and the people coming in to buy food from his business.

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So filling in holes, having a pest contract, doing your visual checks,

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making sure you haven't got mouse droppings,

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is the responsibility of the business owner.

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If there are mice in the restaurant's cellar,

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it's highly likely others have made their way into its kitchen.

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Bev and Sian act quickly, hunting out any telltale signs.

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Just seeing if we've got any more droppings in this area.

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What mice like to do is run round the edges,

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that's why you tend to not see them visually,

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but you always look for the signs, which are the droppings

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and that generally shows you where they're running.

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Fresh droppings.

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-Definitely fresh.

-Very fresh?

-Yeah.

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All that needs to be sealed completely.

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And you can see it goes all the way along there.

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-That needs to be sealed.

-Yep.

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This is where have the problem, this is where we've found the mouse droppings.

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Having found a wealth of evidence to suggest a serious rodent infestation,

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Bev and Sian are forced into immediate action

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to safeguard the public's health.

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-We need to look at closing the premise.

-Closing it?

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-We need to close.

-You know how hard it is, to support a family nowadays?

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If I could just say, we don't want businesses to close either.

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But right now, there's people buying products from your shop.

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But you haven't found no mouse droppings on the surfaces or anything, have you?

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But, you haven't got...

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Have you found any droppings on the surfaces?

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There's mice.

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Not on the surfaces.

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Doesn't matter. There's mice. There's mice.

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Eventually, the management agree to close the takeaway for 24 hours.

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They'll use the time to deep-clean the kitchen

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and make sure the mice can't access it or the cellar again.

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I couldn't walk away from a business

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knowing that something's not right here

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and there's a potential risk to consumers or to people

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that are going into that business. We have to stop it.

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With their duty to the taxpaying public in mind,

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Bev and Sian will return.

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They'll only allow the takeaway to trade again

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when the serious threat to public health has been removed.

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Officers like Sian and Bev respond to requests

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and complaints passed to them from the Council's call centre.

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Welcome to Tameside Council. How can I help?

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Staff here do their best to direct residents' queries to the right officer,

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but not all calls are easy to pass on.

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Yes, we deal with that here.

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We've had quite a few funny calls over the years, we really have.

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That's the thing I like about the job.

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Thank you. Your address, please?

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'I had a lady on the telephone,'

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I was quite agitated, because she was agitated,

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she was very upset, she said she had asylum seekers living in her loft.

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I was a little bit... You hear of these things,

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and I was thinking, we have to get the police involved,

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do this and do that...

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Then she said, "Do you know what they do during the night?"

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I said, "What's that?" She said, "They come down and they paint my radiators pink."

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And they polish my shoes.

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At that point I stopped panicking and thinking I should get in touch with the police

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and I phoned one of our social services sections.

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The one that's made me smile recently was a dog fouling,

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as daft as that might sound. Somebody rang us up,

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and said they wanted to report some dog fouling.

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When I asked where it was, he said his shoe.

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Well, I found it very difficult at that point to maintain the professionalism, but I did!

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Brilliant.

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Britain's local councils are battling ever-decreasing budgets,

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but even when times are tough, they endeavour to help those most in need.

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Thanks to some additional Government funds,

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Councils across the country have been piloting a boiler scrappage scheme

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aimed at residents on low incomes.

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James Mallion runs the scheme in Tameside,

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which reduces energy consumption and carbon emissions by installing free

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energy efficient boilers.

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We've got funding for about 180-200 boilers

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depending on the individual costs per job, which can vary.

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There are two main objectives - we're helping people in that situation

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so they can have more cost-effective heating

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and heat their homes more affordably and hopefully, in some cases,

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bring them out of fuel poverty.

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But also, we're looking at the carbon emissions from that, as well.

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It's estimated that nearly 2.4 million English households

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are in fuel poverty, meaning they spend more than 10% of their income

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on fuel to maintain a satisfactory level of warmth in their home.

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I know it's recently been announced in the North West,

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it's the worst region in terms of the number of households

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that are in fuel poverty. It is an increasing problem, really.

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One of the residents who called his council

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and qualified for a new boiler is 77-year-old pensioner Derek Southall.

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His old-fashioned gas fire is outdated and inefficient.

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It's quite old. We've had it a long time.

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The radiators were put in 1972.

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The boiler's usually all right, though it does go wrong sometimes.

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It's always been quite efficient,

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but they tell me it's not very efficient nowadays,

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it's using too much energy.

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It was put in when my wife was alive

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so obviously, it'll take some memories,

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but they tell me the new one will be better, so I hope they're right.

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James and private contractor Darren Lewis arrive

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to check Derek's house ahead of the installation.

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DOOR BELL RINGS

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-Hi, Mr Southall.

-Come in.

-I'm James from the council. This is Darren.

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-Hello.

-Hi, Mr Southall.

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-Please go in.

-Thank you.

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We will put in your new central heating system,

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replacing your old boiler which is 60% efficient,

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-and we're putting in a new combination boiler which is 91% efficient.

-Great.

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We'll be putting all new radiators in. And I'll just need to check a few things with you.

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-OK. Just go where you want to go.

-All right, thanks.

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Experts suggest that during UK winters, 24,000 older people

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could die from cold weather.

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The times we're in, it's very difficult for everyone to afford to heat their homes,

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and particularly the most vulnerable people in the community.

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It is only a one-off scheme, so it's not long term,

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it's not available to a lot of people

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and it's not available in all areas either, so it's a challenge.

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It's very frustrating for a lot of households,

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they are struggling in terms of falling into debt with high energy bills.

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They might feel like they can't afford to put the heating on

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so then they end up with health problems.

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It's really nice to be able to do something that does help people.

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I think sometimes the council does get a bit of a bad reputation

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because a lot of the work we do is indirectly helping people,

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whereas fortunately for me,

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it's a nice position to be in, where you are directly helping people.

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Without further ado, the builders begin the job of replacing Mr Southall's 40-year-old boiler.

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They came on time.

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They started straightaway.

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They seem to be working very hard, and they know what they're doing,

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so, just leave them to it.

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Mr Southall's is one of over 100,000 new boilers installed nationwide.

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When the house is back to normal, it'll be warmer,

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and I'll save money on gas and heating.

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Should be all right.

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It is good to be able to do this kind of work that is very visible,

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it is very proactive.

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Only time will tell if this successful pilot scheme

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will turn into a permanent enterprise.

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For now, many local authorities do offer advice

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on how to make your house energy efficient,

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so if you have any questions you could call the council.

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Yes, I am pleased with it.

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The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, as they say -

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or in the heating!

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On the other side of town,

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Bev and Sian have the enforcement bit between their teeth.

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We're from Environmental Services again, just to do your re-visit.

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They're back at the takeaway that closed down after

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evidence of mice was discovered in its cellars and kitchens.

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Do you know how hard it is, love, to support a family nowadays?

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Today it's D-day for the business.

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The thing is with mice in a food establishment is,

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they don't just stay on the floor, they tend to wait till you've closed

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the business and then go and urinate all over your worktops

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and your pans and your cutlery.

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They're not shy, they'll come out and do the business

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when your business is closed, so to speak.

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So, potentially, there's a risk there of eating contaminated food.

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-Can we start in the cellar?

-You could do, yeah.

-Is that OK?

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Only Bev and Sian can give them permission to reopen and they

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have to be convinced that any risk to public health has been removed.

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When we was here last, there was

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a number of holes that needed to be filled -

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obviously access for vermin.

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We've spotted some droppings in the corner.

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There were some holes in the ceiling, structurally,

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but the work seems to have been carried out.

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But the mice's main route into the takeaway was through a large

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gap under the back door.

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It's a big improvement that with the back door.

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With doors altered and holes filled there has been an improvement,

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but is it enough for Sian and Bev to let the business resume trading?

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As you know, these were really emergency jobs, to get done,

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so you could reopen.

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As we've said, the work is temporary,

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so you've done a temporary repair job.

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That's not going to remain in place for ever.

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We're happy for you to open.

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We'll sign off to say that we're happy for you to open.

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Continue with the cleaning, don't just open the shutters,

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you've got to give it a really good wipe down, OK?

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The takeaway has rectified it's pest problem,

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but having found issues,

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Bev downgrades it from a category C to B,

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meaning more regular inspections to make sure the problems don't return.

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I do like to work with the businesses,

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I don't go in all guns blazing.

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We do have guidelines and legislation that we have to follow

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and I hopefully do go in and make this clear to businesses.

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It's good news, but still a bit of work to do and everything,

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so hopefully we'll be able to trade soon.

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Hopefully, step in the right direction, and we're open tonight,

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so that's a good thing.

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From now on, Bev will inspect the business every 12 months,

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to check it stays clean and mouse-free.

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In this way she can make sure customers are safe.

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OK. Thank you.

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Every year, 177 million tonnes of waste

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are generated in England alone.

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Because it costs us all millions to get rid of,

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the country's local authorities are battling

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to utilise their resources more effectively

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and encouraging us to reduce, re-use and recycle.

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But campaigners say while some areas of England are reaching recycling

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rates nearing 70%, others areas are only achieving 15%.

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So recycling is a contentious issue that splits opinion across the country.

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One of the good points, for me, is their recycling policy.

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I know a lot of people think that it's a pain -

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why do we have to have so many bins?

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The fact is, we can't keep on filling land up with rubbish.

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The council could do more on approaching

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the people proper to recycle.

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It becomes wrong when they just impose upon you and say,

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"As from next week, you'll put this stuff in that bin,

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"that stuff in that bin." It will not work.

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You can't make people recycle.

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People now should recycle, it's come to that way of life.

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It's not a hard thing to do.

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They give you a letter when you first start.

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I've actually got it pinned up in me kitchen.

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They also give you a paper that says what goes in what,

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so really, at the end of the day, it's up to you to do it, isn't it?

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I do try me hardest,

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but sometimes it's a bit hard - just throw it in the bin.

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If we persistently refuse or fail to put the right rubbish

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in the right bin, it's the council that gets called.

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Environmental enforcement officers Louise Ashton

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and Sharon Campbell have received a complaint from the bin men

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about a local restaurant where general waste isn't being

0:19:440:19:47

separated from rubbish that could be recycled.

0:19:470:19:51

-That's it.

-Pagliacci Ristorante. Pizzeria.

0:19:510:19:54

Before going in they brush up on the lingo.

0:19:560:20:00

How do you say that? Paglia...

0:20:000:20:02

Pagliacci. I don't know how you pronounce the double C.

0:20:020:20:06

Yeah, cheek. Pagliacci. Pagliacci. Yeah.

0:20:080:20:12

I'll have to have a go at it.

0:20:140:20:16

-I'm from Tameside Council. My name's Louise.

-Hello.

-Nice to meet you.

0:20:190:20:24

I wonder if we could go somewhere

0:20:240:20:25

and have a quick word about your recycling bins.

0:20:250:20:28

-Now?

-Yes, please. If you could fit us in. No problem. Thank you.

0:20:280:20:31

Quite often we'll go out to bins

0:20:330:20:35

and there'll be a blue bin, which is paper and cardboard,

0:20:350:20:39

and somebody's filled it with general rubbish or they've filled it

0:20:390:20:44

half full of plastics and it's contaminated now.

0:20:440:20:48

It can't go in to that recycling stream

0:20:480:20:51

because it will ruin the whole load.

0:20:510:20:53

The problem we're having is we're getting reports off

0:20:530:20:57

the lads that the actual recycling bins are contaminated.

0:20:570:21:01

You can see they are. We've got glass in there. We've got ash.

0:21:010:21:04

We've got cans.

0:21:040:21:07

The council provides a free collection service

0:21:070:21:10

for recycled waste.

0:21:100:21:11

If waste isn't separated the whole bin full has to go to landfill.

0:21:110:21:16

This costs Tameside Council £300 per tonne to dispose of.

0:21:160:21:21

Unnecessary costs like these divert our money from other essential

0:21:210:21:25

council services, and fines can be issued if the problem persists.

0:21:250:21:29

But restaurant owner Dom say's he isn't contaminating the bins

0:21:290:21:33

and begins his own investigation to find out who is.

0:21:330:21:36

-It's not me.

-Look!

0:21:360:21:39

Last night they were full. This morning, this. I don't know.

0:21:390:21:45

-It must be somebody else.

-Are you sure? I check on the CCTV.

0:21:450:21:52

-Manager.

-OK. Sorry.

0:21:560:22:02

The chefs blame Manager Fabrizio but he has a different theory.

0:22:020:22:06

It's no member of staff make this kind of mistake

0:22:060:22:10

because we learn every member of staff working here

0:22:100:22:15

in the kitchen, the KP, every night,

0:22:150:22:20

divide to the bin, plastic or bottle.

0:22:200:22:25

I believe it's somebody else.

0:22:250:22:28

If this isn't an inside job, Louise and Sharon must identify the actual

0:22:280:22:32

culprits who could face fines of up to £2,500.

0:22:320:22:36

The only way to do this is by getting their hands dirty.

0:22:360:22:40

This is a bag of general waste.

0:22:400:22:42

That's not ours because we would have used this.

0:22:420:22:45

-Somebody was around here.

-Right.

0:22:450:22:48

-In the restaurant we wouldn't use stuff like that.

-OK.

0:22:480:22:52

We have to root through the rubbish to get to get the evidence we need.

0:22:520:22:55

I can tell you a lot about a person's lifestyle from the rubbish, you know.

0:22:550:23:00

Even if we don't actually get evidence,

0:23:000:23:03

I can tell you what the shopping patterns are...

0:23:030:23:05

and all the rest of it.

0:23:050:23:07

As the saying goes, it's a dirty job but somebody has to do it.

0:23:070:23:10

Looks like beauty therapy stuff.

0:23:100:23:13

It looks like it's from a beauty therapy.

0:23:160:23:18

On the back, there's something that says...

0:23:180:23:21

I saw a telephone number.

0:23:210:23:23

Do you know how many times I catch people who just abandon

0:23:230:23:26

the bin bag outside here.

0:23:260:23:28

We don't want to have that.

0:23:280:23:29

-There's no address on this. But there is a name.

-Telephone number as well.

0:23:290:23:34

Yeah, there's a name of a clinic, so I'll look into that.

0:23:340:23:38

They may have found the culprit, but Dom's not stopping there.

0:23:380:23:42

For two or three weeks, there has been carton box there, they abandon.

0:23:420:23:45

Passionate about his neighbourhood,

0:23:450:23:47

-he has a proposition for Sharon and Louise.

-With your help...

0:23:470:23:51

That's something we can address with the council.

0:23:570:23:59

I'm going to give you my phone number now and then you

0:24:080:24:11

and I will stay in touch and I'll get one of the project officers,

0:24:110:24:14

between us we'll sort something.

0:24:140:24:16

Dom's a very vibrant character. Very outspoken. Lovely man.

0:24:190:24:23

-Wash my hands now.

-Yes.

0:24:230:24:25

I like characters like that, it makes your day.

0:24:250:24:27

It just breaks up the sort of bland, rooting through rubbish

0:24:270:24:31

to sort of meeting someone who's quite a nice person.

0:24:310:24:34

The UK's council officers who are keeping our streets safe

0:24:480:24:51

and fighting to make best use of our taxes,

0:24:510:24:54

face fresh challenges every day.

0:24:540:24:56

Working as a team is one way to conquer them.

0:24:560:24:59

Me and Louise, we work well together. We're a good team.

0:24:590:25:02

I think we're better together than apart.

0:25:040:25:06

It's just something that we've always done and we work really well.

0:25:060:25:11

We have our ups and downs, laughs and jokes.

0:25:110:25:14

I can think of one that's quite funny.

0:25:140:25:15

Where Sharon managed to run me over.

0:25:150:25:18

Yeah, Sharon ran me over at a fly tipping job.

0:25:190:25:22

She hadn't put her handbrake on properly.

0:25:220:25:24

Carried me up the backside and tipped me headfirst into the rubbish.

0:25:240:25:27

That's not very nice, is it? That's not what you call a friend.

0:25:290:25:32

It's a good job she had her rigger boots on.

0:25:320:25:34

Health and safety, always health and safety,

0:25:340:25:36

otherwise she might have been a bit, uh...

0:25:360:25:38

worse for wear.

0:25:380:25:40

Another dynamic duo working together today is pest control officer

0:25:510:25:56

Brian Wheelan and his colleague Danny.

0:25:560:25:59

A landlord's called the council to a vacant property with a cellar

0:25:590:26:02

full of rubbish and possible rodent activity.

0:26:020:26:05

We've got a void property that's got reports of rats in the cellar.

0:26:050:26:09

I believe there's a trap door underneath the stairs,

0:26:090:26:13

so I'll have a look around.

0:26:130:26:14

Bit of luck, we might see a bit of live activity.

0:26:140:26:17

Enjoyable for you, fella. Seeing as you've not seen any.

0:26:170:26:20

Hopefully!

0:26:200:26:21

Normally Danny works as a grave-digger in Tameside's cemeteries

0:26:230:26:27

but has swapped pick axe for pest control poison

0:26:270:26:30

and is joining Brian on today's rat hunt.

0:26:300:26:32

Meow.

0:26:340:26:35

And it looks like Brian has another new recruit with a nose for rodents.

0:26:350:26:39

The house has only been empty for a few weeks but it's been longer

0:26:430:26:46

since anyone was brave enough to venture into the cellar.

0:26:460:26:49

Right, according to this there's a trap door under the stairs or something.

0:26:490:26:53

Here we go. Bingo. Cheers.

0:26:550:26:58

Are you ready with your torch?

0:27:000:27:02

Urgh, God. Look at that.

0:27:060:27:08

If rats are present,

0:27:090:27:11

Brian's experienced nose will be able to sniff them out.

0:27:110:27:14

Oh, it stinks, man. Urgh.

0:27:140:27:17

-It's nice down here, though.

-Is it?

-Lovely.

0:27:200:27:23

Look at the state of this, man.

0:27:240:27:26

As a grave-digger, Danny's used to being six foot under

0:27:260:27:29

but this might be a step too far.

0:27:290:27:31

I've got a step machine, there.

0:27:310:27:33

Fighting their way through the rubbish,

0:27:370:27:39

it's not long before the first signs of telltale signs of rats emerge.

0:27:390:27:44

There's a very, very strong smell of wee in here.

0:27:440:27:49

There's rat droppings.

0:27:490:27:50

Oh, some fresh ones.

0:27:520:27:53

On the bed, there. Here you are, Dan. Them ones, there.

0:27:540:27:58

THUD! You all right, mate? Be careful!

0:27:580:28:00

Just went through it!

0:28:000:28:03

-Just watch yourself. You all right?

-Yeah, I'm all right.

0:28:030:28:05

See them there? They're your fresh droppings. You can see 'em shining.

0:28:050:28:09

So it's not been...too long since it's been and had a...a poo.

0:28:110:28:18

Rats can squeeze through spaces just 1cm wide,

0:28:180:28:21

so it could have been prevented from entering by access holes

0:28:210:28:24

being sealed and attractive bedding and food sources being removed.

0:28:240:28:28

Now it's obvious rats are in residence,

0:28:280:28:31

but Brian and Danny haven't actually spotted any...yet.

0:28:310:28:35

-Yeah.

-Ssh, ssh.

0:28:350:28:36

Hear it?

0:28:400:28:41

Ssh, ssh.

0:28:440:28:46

-That's a toilet area there.

-Yeah.

0:28:510:28:53

I just heard them underneath here.

0:28:590:29:01

Cos we've walked across here and sort of compacted a few things down.

0:29:010:29:04

You could hear 'em running,

0:29:040:29:05

all scattering through underneath here, but I mean,

0:29:050:29:08

they'll be deep down and have only come out here, used this as a toilet.

0:29:080:29:13

All this is gorgeous here for them. It's like, er...

0:29:130:29:17

Cancun in Mexico, this, for them.

0:29:170:29:19

I mean, they've got everything. Beautiful.

0:29:190:29:22

It'd be nice if they came out, like, but...

0:29:250:29:28

Unfortunately.

0:29:280:29:30

All right, mate, what we'll do is bait it up first.

0:29:300:29:35

-Yeah.

-Get 'em eating the poison.

0:29:350:29:37

So I've put quite a bit of bait down, yeah?

0:29:370:29:40

Put some on there, mate.

0:29:410:29:43

Right, er...

0:29:450:29:47

Give us some. Put some down here, mate.

0:29:480:29:50

Open it like a bag of crisps.

0:29:520:29:54

And then...fold it over.

0:29:560:29:58

So what we'll do now is we've put the bait down, we leave it a week,

0:30:030:30:07

we'll come back, check the bait.

0:30:070:30:09

If it's been taken, put more bait down.

0:30:090:30:11

So we'll have to see how it goes.

0:30:110:30:13

Let's go.

0:30:130:30:14

Poison laid, this brave pair will return to face the perils of

0:30:140:30:18

the cellar in a few days and see if they've managed to remove any rats.

0:30:180:30:23

In 2012, local authorities received 150,000 complaints

0:30:360:30:41

from their residents about their local environment

0:30:410:30:44

and spent over £6 billion on environmental services.

0:30:440:30:48

Today, enforcement officer, Pete Grimes,

0:30:480:30:51

is investigating after a resident called the council

0:30:510:30:54

to complain about smoke coming from a neighbour's chimney.

0:30:540:30:57

We received a complaint regarding smoke and odours from a chimney.

0:30:570:31:02

The complainant says that

0:31:020:31:03

she couldn't have the window open,

0:31:030:31:05

she suffers from chest problems and they were getting

0:31:050:31:08

ash fallout on the window ledges.

0:31:080:31:11

Under the Clean Air Act, the UK's local authorities can declare

0:31:110:31:14

all or part of their district a smoke control area.

0:31:140:31:19

Offenders failing to burn an approved smokeless fuel

0:31:190:31:22

and emitting smoke from a chimney, furnace or fixed boiler

0:31:220:31:25

can be fined up to £1,000.

0:31:250:31:28

The complaint has been made against resident Andy Chipman,

0:31:280:31:31

who's recently installed a wood burner.

0:31:310:31:34

We holidayed in Cornwall and, er, in the cottage, there was a log burner

0:31:340:31:38

and it was ever so nice to sit there of an evening with the fire going

0:31:380:31:42

and my wife got really excited about it and, er,

0:31:420:31:45

we spoke about having one ourselves.

0:31:450:31:47

Anyone wanting to burn fuel that's not approved by DEFRA -

0:31:470:31:51

the government's Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs -

0:31:510:31:54

can only do so using a DEFRA-approved appliance.

0:31:540:31:57

-Mr Chipman? Hiya. Pete Grimes of the environmental health.

-Yeah.

0:31:570:32:01

-We spoke the other day on the phone regarding the appliance?

-Come on in.

0:32:010:32:05

Pete wants to find out if Andy's burner,

0:32:050:32:07

and the fuel he's using, meet the regulations.

0:32:070:32:10

Tameside is a smoke-controlled area and we don't want

0:32:100:32:13

people burning coals and wood as a main source of fuel,

0:32:130:32:16

cos you end up back to the '50s and '60s,

0:32:160:32:18

with all the smogs and smoke.

0:32:180:32:19

Any appliance you buy, it's got to be DEFRA-approved.

0:32:190:32:22

-That is not DEFRA-approved to burn...

-I've just found that out.

0:32:220:32:26

'Unfortunately, a lot of people see these log-burning stoves advertised

0:32:260:32:29

'and they don't do... They don't work properly.'

0:32:290:32:32

They just see this appliance and go and buy it and get it fitted.

0:32:320:32:35

And then, someone complains and we go out and say, "Unfortunately,

0:32:350:32:39

"you've bought one, but it's not the correct one for Tameside."

0:32:390:32:42

Then they end up with all the heartache of either ripping it out

0:32:420:32:45

and reinstalling it and buying the right one.

0:32:450:32:48

Because Andy's wood burner isn't approved by DEFRA,

0:32:480:32:51

he should only be burning smokeless fuel.

0:32:510:32:54

From my point of view, the fire's OK,

0:32:540:32:56

as long as you only use smokeless fuel.

0:32:560:32:58

That was another question I was going to ask.

0:32:580:33:01

That means no burning of wood as your main source of fuel.

0:33:010:33:03

-Wood kindling to get it going.

-Right.

0:33:030:33:05

And then thereafter smokeless fuel.

0:33:050:33:07

-Good, OK.

-OK?

-All right.

-OK, Mr Chipman.

0:33:070:33:10

-Thanks for your time.

-OK.

-If you need any more information,

0:33:100:33:12

give me a ring, you've got my number.

0:33:120:33:14

I'll have a chat with you again, not a problem.

0:33:140:33:16

-Good.

-OK, then?

-Right, lovely.

-Thanks a lot.

0:33:160:33:18

Thanks to Pete, Andy agrees to obey the law,

0:33:180:33:21

but is left with a woodshed full of fuel he can't use.

0:33:210:33:25

I knew about smokeless regulations, from the old days

0:33:250:33:30

of smokeless zones and things like that, but I wasn't aware

0:33:300:33:33

that they were strictly attached to, er, these log-burning fires.

0:33:330:33:38

I mean, I thought it wasn't gas. We were just burning wood.

0:33:380:33:42

I just thought a log burner was a log burner.

0:33:420:33:44

DEFRA's website has a list of appliances and approved fuels

0:33:440:33:48

that anyone thinking about buying a new fire or wood burner can access.

0:33:480:33:52

And if you're not sure whether you live in a smoke-free area,

0:33:520:33:56

you should call your council.

0:33:560:33:58

Unfortunately, he's just been misled by his supplier. He's bought it

0:33:580:34:02

with the understanding that it was a DEFRA-approved appliance.

0:34:020:34:05

I am quite satisfied that, er, he will cease burning logs

0:34:050:34:10

as his main source of fuel and go on to smokeless fuels.

0:34:100:34:13

Back in Ashton, dynamic duo Brian and trainee pest control officer

0:34:260:34:30

Danny have returned to remove rubbish from a rat-infested cellar.

0:34:300:34:35

We're wearing it because obviously the stuff we'll be touching's

0:34:350:34:38

going to be contaminated with rat urine, er, and faeces,

0:34:380:34:42

so we don't want to get all that on us.

0:34:420:34:45

It'll be dusty enough. And a bit murky down there.

0:34:450:34:50

Brian's suited and booted

0:34:500:34:52

and Danny's armed, but not very dangerous.

0:34:520:34:55

-Oh, very big little thing, that.

-It's all I could find.

0:34:550:34:58

THEY LAUGH

0:34:580:35:00

On his last visit, Brian left poison for the rats to feed on.

0:35:000:35:04

Right, come on, then.

0:35:040:35:06

But there may still be live rodents down below.

0:35:080:35:10

This won't worry Brian, though,

0:35:130:35:15

because, after 17 years in pest control, he's seen and heard it all.

0:35:150:35:19

'You do get the stigma of rats, the size of rats,'

0:35:190:35:21

when people say to you, they turn round and say to you,

0:35:210:35:25

"Well, it was that big and it was running off with a bone."

0:35:250:35:28

Very pungent smell of rat urine.

0:35:280:35:31

The biggest rat I've ever had is probably about so big.

0:35:310:35:34

I just heard a squeak, in there somewhere.

0:35:340:35:37

But you always get people who say

0:35:370:35:39

that they're massive and huge, like you think they're going to eat you,

0:35:390:35:43

but it's never as big as they make out, honest to God.

0:35:430:35:46

I just thought I'd play it a bit safe at the moment.

0:35:460:35:49

Cos what we don't want to do is transfer any live ones up there,

0:35:490:35:52

then that gives us another issue.

0:35:520:35:54

The cellar's full of a human family's belongings.

0:35:560:35:59

But Brian's found a place that the rats like to call home.

0:36:010:36:04

Oh, that'll be there.

0:36:040:36:06

It's where they've been nesting and chewing.

0:36:060:36:08

See where they've chewed the insulation?

0:36:080:36:11

But is anybody in?

0:36:110:36:13

LOUD SQUEAK Ooh!

0:36:130:36:15

Having found the nest, Brian's closing in on his prey.

0:36:160:36:20

But will he ever get close enough?

0:36:230:36:24

Everyone turns around and says, "Yeah,

0:36:260:36:28

"but you're no further than five foot away from a rat." Yeah, you're right.

0:36:280:36:32

Give us light.

0:36:340:36:36

But the papers make it sound more... The media make it sound like

0:36:360:36:40

five foot that way, five foot that way, five foot that way.

0:36:400:36:43

But if you think, and just step back a little bit,

0:36:430:36:45

what's five foot below us?

0:36:450:36:48

The sewers. And where do the rats come from? The sewers.

0:36:480:36:51

With the cellar almost clear, Brian's still not seen a rat...

0:36:540:36:57

MACHINE BEEPS

0:36:590:37:01

..but finds yet more evidence that they've been living here.

0:37:010:37:05

Yeah, that's all there.

0:37:050:37:07

And that is one big massive one. There and there.

0:37:070:37:13

There's another one.

0:37:130:37:15

Down the sides of here.

0:37:150:37:17

You get people turning round saying to us, "The rat's behind the cooker"

0:37:170:37:20

or "the rat's here," and when you get there, there's nothing there.

0:37:200:37:23

I do think they smell a pest control officer coming

0:37:230:37:26

and it is quite funny, actually, sometimes.

0:37:260:37:28

Thanks to Brian and Danny, the rats have fled.

0:37:310:37:34

And after six hours' hard graft,

0:37:340:37:36

the boys have finally reached the end of a very dirty job.

0:37:360:37:40

With jobs like this, I'd definitely buy an extra line on the lottery.

0:37:400:37:44

I do the house lottery, I do the national lottery.

0:37:440:37:47

Well, do everything.

0:37:470:37:49

Just sometimes, you think to yourself...

0:37:510:37:53

..is it worth doing sometimes?

0:37:550:37:57

But it's all right. You just get stuck in.

0:37:570:38:00

It's, er...

0:38:030:38:05

But, yeah, I think I do wish my numbers were coming up.

0:38:050:38:08

With the cellar clear of rubbish,

0:38:110:38:13

and anything that could harbour rats,

0:38:130:38:16

Danny and Brian fill the van and hit the road.

0:38:160:38:18

Across town, having consulted with the council

0:38:340:38:36

about the amount of litter blighting his neighbourhood,

0:38:360:38:40

Italian restaurant owner Domenico has rallied his community,

0:38:400:38:43

and enforcement officer Louise, into a communal clear up.

0:38:430:38:47

We bit while the... While he was keen

0:38:470:38:50

and I put him in touch with one of my colleagues

0:38:500:38:53

and they've got together a brilliant turn out.

0:38:530:38:56

And it's various members of the local community

0:38:560:38:59

and we're going to have two hours of, er,

0:38:590:39:02

litter picking and just generally tidying up the area.

0:39:020:39:06

I'm hoping it'll be like a rolling stone, it'll start to gather

0:39:060:39:09

a bit of momentum and people will get involved.

0:39:090:39:11

We're hoping this will just be the start of something for them.

0:39:110:39:14

England is a beautiful country, but the people don't take much care

0:39:160:39:21

and much, much, er, pride - that's the big problem.

0:39:210:39:24

-I follow him. He looks like a trouble causer.

-He is.

0:39:240:39:27

Is very, very important to be proud of this town,

0:39:270:39:29

because it's a nice town and nice people.

0:39:290:39:32

Litter things up!

0:39:320:39:34

Dom is very passionate about where he works

0:39:340:39:37

and where he has his business and the area.

0:39:370:39:39

He refers to it as "the village", which really tickles me that.

0:39:390:39:42

Right, where we off, then? Where's my...? Oh, I've lost my black bag.

0:39:430:39:47

LAUGHTER Cheeky!

0:39:480:39:50

Louise and the troops have two hours

0:39:520:39:54

to collect as much rubbish as they can.

0:39:540:39:57

I find it quite scary. We've just walked, what,

0:39:570:39:59

60-70 foot from where we started

0:39:590:40:01

and we've well over half filled the bags.

0:40:010:40:04

I feel like a little troll under this bridge,

0:40:100:40:13

just waiting and picking up rubbish.

0:40:130:40:16

Louise has spent over 35 years working for the council,

0:40:170:40:20

but is still shocked by people's

0:40:200:40:22

apparent disregard for their community.

0:40:220:40:25

I think most people dump stuff, because they're too lazy

0:40:250:40:28

to actually do something about it, and take responsibility for it.

0:40:280:40:33

It's not rocket science.

0:40:330:40:34

And a lot of that stuff that Dom's just pulled out of there,

0:40:340:40:38

and put into these bags, I would say, what,

0:40:380:40:41

40% of it was stuff you could recycle.

0:40:410:40:44

I had a choice, you know, between the GPO, as it was then,

0:40:480:40:51

British Telecom, and this.

0:40:510:40:54

Still, GPO doesn't exist any more, does it? So...

0:40:550:40:58

SHE LAUGHS: Perhaps it wasn't a bad choice after all, that!

0:40:580:41:02

-20 bags.

-20 bags?

-20 bags.

0:41:020:41:06

-Brilliant.

-And they was full as well.

-Are they?

-Yeah.

0:41:060:41:09

-LAUGHTER

-And they was full to the brim.

0:41:090:41:12

-DOM:

-In two hours, you cannot have a miracle. We've done the best we can.

0:41:120:41:15

The hard work starts from today.

0:41:150:41:17

Today's just the aperitif. The starter! The appetite!

0:41:170:41:23

Rubbish removed, time for a fully deserved alfresco dinner.

0:41:250:41:29

Prego. That's all vegetarian.

0:41:310:41:33

LOUISE: It's just a nice way of saying thank you.

0:41:330:41:36

And he's taken time out of a very busy schedule to do that, really.

0:41:360:41:40

Thank you.

0:41:400:41:41

He's definitely stepped up to the plate and he's got out there,

0:41:410:41:44

got his hands dirty, come in and washed them

0:41:440:41:46

and then sorted himself out with the pizzas for all of us

0:41:460:41:50

and I think, again, we feel like we've made some new friends today.

0:41:500:41:53

Can I go for that one, then?

0:41:530:41:55

I'm hope this is just the start of getting the message

0:41:550:41:58

to everybody else to start to do something about,

0:41:580:42:01

because, on your own, you cannot win the war.

0:42:010:42:04

You need the support of everybody else.

0:42:040:42:06

Today, we were only 40 people. I hope next time we'll be 100.

0:42:060:42:10

Because with 100, we can cover more area.

0:42:100:42:12

Cheese!

0:42:120:42:14

LAUGHTER

0:42:140:42:16

It's been another successful shift for Britain's local heroes.

0:42:180:42:22

They've helped keep residents' homes warm and wallets healthy.

0:42:220:42:26

Yes, I am pleased with it.

0:42:260:42:28

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, as they say,

0:42:280:42:30

or in the heating!

0:42:300:42:32

They leapt at the offer of a community clean up and free pizza.

0:42:320:42:37

Nothing like a good walk all over the town centre

0:42:370:42:39

and picking up rubbish to work up an appetite.

0:42:390:42:42

And acted fast when the public's health was in jeopardy.

0:42:420:42:46

-The business owner's got a duty...

-Yeah.

0:42:460:42:48

-..to make sure that he is protecting his business...

-Yeah.

0:42:480:42:51

..and the people that are coming in to buy food from his business.

0:42:510:42:54

And all this when we call the council.

0:42:540:42:57

It's nice to see a conclusion, cos you don't always see conclusions.

0:42:570:43:02

Cos some of these problems just come back week after week

0:43:020:43:05

after month after month and if you do get one that is just...

0:43:050:43:09

If you can make it a one-off by action that you've taken,

0:43:090:43:13

that makes you feel good about yourself.

0:43:130:43:16

Environmental health officers battle to protect the public from food poisoning when evidence of mice is found in a takeaway. The waste management team get elbow deep in rubbish trying to solve a recycling conundrum, and the council do their bit in the battle against fuel poverty.


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