Episode 5 Call the Council


Episode 5

Series following council officers. In this episode Mike Gurney, head of the bereavement services team, turns detective when a resident dies alone.


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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 that we pay to 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

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behind the walls of Tameside Town Hall in Greater Manchester.

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Like council officers across the country,

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

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

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They are protecting us from hidden dangers...

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If there is rodent activity in your kitchen,

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you won't be opening tonight, it's that simple.

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

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

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..and responding to their residents when they call the council.

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Coming up in today's programme, council officers turn detective

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after a resident dies alone.

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It doesn't feel right, somehow, going through somebody's personal belongings.

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Unfortunately, it's something we have to do.

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-Hello!

-A resident calls the council after discovering

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an unwanted ingredient in her curry.

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Halfway through we discovered black beetles.

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And officers respond when shoppers and staff

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are put in danger at a cash and carry.

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-I'm losing confidence, really.

-You don't need to.

-I am.

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In the UK, over 400 local councils employing over two million people

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are charged with putting our money to the best possible use.

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Every hour of every day, these local authorities

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and local council officers work around the clock

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to keep us safe, caring for us from cradle to grave.

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Hello, Bereavement Services.

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Mike Gurney is in charge of the council's bereavement service.

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Based at Tameside's crematorium,

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it's his job to care for the deceased and their families.

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I don't think people do realise how much

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the council are involved in their lives in many ways.

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Everybody at some point has got to come to me. That sounds awful.

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People get scared when I say, "See you soon." They start worrying.

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Today Mike's dealing with a call from the police

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asking for the council's help, and for him to turn detective.

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We've just received a phone call from the coroner's office, and it's

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regarding a gentleman that has been found dead in his property locally.

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Initial enquiries haven't revealed any relatives

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whatsoever at the moment.

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What I need to do now as part of our service is to do more enquiries,

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as to whether he's got any family or not, and I need to get into

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the property now to go through his belongings and to establish

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if there's any monies available to arrange a funeral for him.

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In cases like this,

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when someone dies without any known surviving relatives,

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it becomes the council's responsibility to arrange

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what's known as a community funeral.

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A community funeral is where somebody dies in Tameside,

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and there's no known relatives

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and there's no-one to sort their funeral out.

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We have a statutory obligation to make sure we arrange a funeral in those circumstances.

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Local authorities in England and Wales carry out

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around 3,000 community funerals a year, at a cost of £2 million.

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To recoup some of these costs,

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councils are allowed access to any assets the deceased leave behind.

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We literally have to go in the house, people's houses,

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and find any bank details. If there's no actual money available,

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maybe there's anything valuable there, we can sell it,

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to pay towards the funeral.

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But in a lot of the cases, there's no money whatsoever.

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In a bid to find out

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if the deceased man has any surviving family or remaining funds,

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Mike's preparing for the difficult task of searching his home.

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OK, so we've got some disposable suits we need to take with us just as a precaution.

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A face mask, because it can be not very nice, shall we say,

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the smell, sometimes, it depends on the circumstances,

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how long the person's been there, so face masks.

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These are my shoes that I wear when I go in these properties,

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because some of them are pretty horrendous.

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These are our big socks.

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These are to go over our shoes, should it be extremely bad.

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We've been involved in lots of things, exhumations,

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and we were very much involved in the Shipman Inquiry a few years back,

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and my staff were involved in exhuming bodies.

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I do go home and off-load sometimes to my wife, and I've got a great

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family network, so I think it's talking things through

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amongst the staff, but my coping mechanism is probably a sense of humour.

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I don't know, I think I've got a good sense of humour.

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My wife would kill me if she saw this. Not ironed!

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You know, it's not being disrespectful, but it's probably just a coping mechanism.

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If Mike can alert any relatives to the man's death or find some funds,

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he can reduce the burden on Tameside's taxpayers

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and help give the man a respectful funeral.

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Coming up, the officers discover some valuable information.

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-I found a big metal box.

-Is there a key in it?

-No.

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-There's no key in it?

-No.

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But will it help them find any family for the deceased?

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Local councils nationwide do their best to help out

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whenever a resident calls about life or death.

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That would be Bereavement Services.

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If you bear with me, I shall put you through. Thank you.

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But not all queries from the bereaved are easy to resolve.

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Cheapest and legal way to dispose of a dead body...

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Yeah, and wasn't the story that,

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"Can I carry them round in my boot, of the car?"

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Yeah. I mean, that's weird, isn't it?

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I had one lady once, she requested to hire a helicopter.

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She wanted her husband's ashes spreading across Tameside.

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I were like... "No!"

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Alerted by the police,

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Mike Gurney has arrived at the home of a resident

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who's thought to have died without leaving any surviving relatives

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to help with his funeral.

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Got some steps to make it easier.

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He needs to find out more about the deceased gentleman's life

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and begins his investigation by speaking to a neighbour.

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Mrs Harrison? Hello there. Just to let you know,

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we're going in the property now to see what we can find.

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Are you the lady that reported you hadn't seen the gentleman?

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I hadn't seen him, but Jill across the road informed me that his

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curtains hadn't been opened for a few days, because we'd been away.

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-Right, OK.

-So the window cleaner was due that same day, and Duncan knocked on the door

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and said, "Would you like me to look through his bedroom window?"

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-Right, OK.

-So we said, "Yes, if you would, Duncan."

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-Could he see him through there?

-He could do.

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He went up on his ladder, Duncan, and came back round immediately and

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told me he'd found Stephen through the window collapsed on his bed.

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The man suffered a fatal heart attack.

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Now it's up to Mike to explore the house for clues

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that might confirm he died without any family.

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Shall we do a sniff test?

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HE SNIFFS

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I think it's... HE SNIFFS

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I think it's going to be all right, actually.

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What we do need is gloves. Can you get my gloves?

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They're in the black bag in the boot.

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The man's body was removed by funeral directors,

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so Mike's task shouldn't be too unpleasant.

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Most circumstances,

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these people have been dead in their house for days, weeks,

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sometimes months, and as soon as you open the door,

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the smell can be quite horrific, for obvious reasons.

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So we always have a quick check first, we do a simple sniff test.

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That sounds ridiculous, but to see if we can bear the smell in there.

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If Mike fails to find any information that identifies

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any surviving relatives, the local authority will fund the funeral.

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Let's open the curtains.

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So Mike and his colleague Andrew begin a thorough search of the flat.

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What we're looking for is any personal stuff that will tell us a lot about

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who the gentleman is, we need birth certificates,

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any bank books, any bank details,

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anything that would link us to another member of his family we can contact.

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That's what the aim, really, is today.

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And also to take out any valuable belongings of the gentleman

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that we can, well, for safety purposes,

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but we may have to sell them in order to pay towards his funeral.

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-Mike?

-Yeah.

-I've found a big metal box.

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-Is there a key in it?

-No.

-There's no key in it?

-No.

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We find all sorts when we're going through people's belongings -

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criminal records, all sorts of issues in some of them,

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but that's not for us to judge.

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We're just there to make sure the funeral is carried out

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in the right and proper way.

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He looks organised.

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Yeah, passport, everything here, bank statement, that's great.

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This helps us paint a picture of this guy,

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maybe lead to who he is and who his family are.

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What we'll do, we'll take this file back, go through that in detail.

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Having uncovered personal information,

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Mike and Andrew set about searching for any valuables.

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Just take that. Magnetic therapy,

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but I'll take it because it's classed as jewellery, isn't it?

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Doesn't feel right, somehow, going through somebody's personal belongings.

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It just feels like you're intruding a bit, but unfortunately, it's

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something we have to do, because there's nobody else to do it.

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What's that? Here we are. A picture of him.

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Ah. I always find it,

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when you see a photograph it makes it more real, doesn't it?

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You can relate to the person who lived here then.

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I think anyone who works with the council should have that enjoyment

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in making sure we are delivering services well for the public.

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And I just want to make sure things go well for people,

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particularly in the bereavement side of things.

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That last chapter of people's lives, really.

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There's Christmas cards here, so

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we could find phone numbers on Christmas cards, Andrew.

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-You know, for a family member, anything.

-Yeah, yeah.

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Here we are. What's this?

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We'll take these back and go through them in detail.

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Don't drop them. They might be in some sort of order, that lot.

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Mike and Andrew leave the property with just a small amount of cash

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and some valuables but the box they've discovered could

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provide them with vital information.

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Coming up - the officers continue their investigation.

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Here you are - birth certificate. Brilliant. That's what I'm after.

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But will they be able to find out enough to help give the man

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a fitting funeral?

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Despite having no legal duty to provide burial space,

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most local councils in the UK

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maintain and manage cemeteries for their residents.

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Estimates suggest that there are around 4,000 in the UK.

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Tameside Council looks after eight cemeteries, which means grave-digger

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Geoff Dale and his assistant Matt Smith are always busy.

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Right, Matt?

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Today, they're performing essential checks on headstones.

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Checking a big headstone like that,

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obviously you've got to stand clear of it in case it goes.

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That's passed, that.

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-Passed?

-Yeah.

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In the past, somebody's been killed by a falling monument.

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So it were brought to the attention of the HSE and that's why we do it.

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We have to do these annual checks on all the headstones

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to make sure that it's a safe place for the public to come into.

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It's passed at the front.

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Aye.

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It's failed at the back.

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They're testing the stability of every headstone, applying

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the same amount of pressure as a person leaning against them would.

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That's failed.

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A fail means they have to secure the headstone,

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ensuring no mourners are in danger.

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-That's not coming off, is it?

-No. Don't want it coming off.

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While our local authorities manage our cemeteries,

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the graves within them belong to the families who've purchased the plots.

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It's their responsibility to repair headstones like this,

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so for now, the lads make this one safe.

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The family will be contacted if they're contactable and then

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this is supposed to stay on for three months then.

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And if after three months nothing happens,

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it's supposed to be taken off and laid down.

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In this cemetery,

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there are currently around 4,000 graves to check.

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Jeff and Matt are up to 1,464.

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But finding graves with 17th-century maps is not

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a walk in the park for these 21st-century council workers.

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1,797.

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1,797.

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No, I've got 1,796.

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Not 1,797, though.

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Have you got 1,798?

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-No.

-No?

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No.

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-The one we want, 1,896, is that way.

-Right.

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We're getting somewhere now, aren't we?

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Cos it might be round the corner, you know.

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-You know, past them shrubs.

-Right. 93, 94.

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Do you reckon it's in there, then?

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-Oh, aye, yeah - it's here.

-You got it?

-Yeah.

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Yeah. You just get in. Just have a check of that one, eh?

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-You just have a check of it, mate.

-I've got, er, Aaron Townsend.

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-That's it, mate. Townsend - 1928?

-Er, 1928, yeah.

-That's it. That's 1,896.

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That's a pass.

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-Yeah, it's a pass.

-Right.

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-We're making progress.

-Yeah.

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My map skills aren't the best but they're getting better.

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Jeff's map skills - yeah, he's about as good as me!

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With one more grave ticked off, there's just 2,635 to go.

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Just one of them days.

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Across the UK, council officers are working day and night

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on our behalf, trying to keep their borough and its inhabitants safe.

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Today, after finding an unusual ingredient in a takeaway,

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a concerned resident has called on the council for help.

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A lady had purchased a curry from a restaurant in the Tameside area.

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Upon eating this takeaway, she thinks she may have stumbled

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across what might be an insect of some description.

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Worried Emma Sandbach e-mailed Bev Hursthouse

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after making the discovery.

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We brought a takeout home from the restaurant

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and halfway through,

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we discovered a black sort of beetle.

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Despite being a delicacy for over two billion people worldwide,

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some insects like cockroaches can cause illnesses like dysentery

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and gastroenteritis -

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exactly the potential risk to public health

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council heroes like Bev are fighting to stamp out.

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The restaurant where they picked the takeaway up from,

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it's got a really good reputation. It carries the five stars.

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It's had a recent routine hygiene visit.

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They've got a pest-contracting place.

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-Hiya. Is it Emma?

-It is, yeah.

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If Emma's suspicions are correct, the restaurant will be

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in for a nasty surprise, because it could be closed down.

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OK, so this is the...

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The complaint we got from you, um - you purchased a chicken masala.

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-Mhm.

-So you dined in and brought a takeaway out for husband.

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-Is that right?

-Yeah.

-Yeah, OK.

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-And this is...you think it may be an insect of some description?

-Mm-hm.

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What I'm going to do, I'm just going to have a look while we're here.

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If for any reason we do think it may be, obviously what I'll do is take

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that away and we'll do some further investigation. If it was a beetle,

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obviously nobody wants to find a beetle in their food.

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Nobody wants to find that in any food business.

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I'm going to tip that out there.

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A beetle may just be one, you know, on its travels,

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whereas a cockroach would sometimes indicate that there's a problem,

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an infestation, and then we've got a problem in a food business.

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I can identify that for you. It's not an insect. You're all right.

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-Oh, good.

-What it is, it's one of the cardamoms, called a cardamom pod.

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-Oh, right. Yeah.

-People react differently.

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I mean, if I found what I felt was an insect in a curry,

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I'd probably dissect it and investigate further.

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However, a member of the public that's not, you know, familiar

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with all the different forms of species and different forms of spices

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and you know, may just be quite alerted at the fact

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that something doesn't normally look like it should be in a takeaway

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or a curry or any food item, really,

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is obviously a bit of a problem.

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What sometimes triggers the concern off is

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-these little spikes here.

-That's what it was.

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No, rest assured, it's definitely a cardamom pod.

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I can tell that just from experience.

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-You don't need to worry.

-OK, brilliant.

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One thing I will say to you and it's the restaurant in question,

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we've just had a recent food hygiene check,

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so we know they're above board and everything's fine.

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-They've been rated the five stars, as well.

-Oh, good.

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Do you want me to leave you with that?

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Yeah, I'll throw it in the bin now.

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-I feel better now.

-Let hubby know that it was a cardamom pod,

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-rather than something nasty.

-Yeah.

-We really do appreciate your call.

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We are here to advise and the aim of our job is to prevent people

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from being harmed or becoming unwell.

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If it is something that potentially could make you poorly,

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or could cause you harm, or could cause any further harm,

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or requires a product recall

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or, you know, absolutely get in touch.

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Bye-bye now.

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I thought it's best to check because if it was a beetle,

0:18:080:18:11

and we didn't do anything about it, then...

0:18:110:18:13

lots of people would be eating beetles.

0:18:130:18:16

I'm glad I didn't go back to the restaurant with it, anyway, asking for my money back.

0:18:170:18:21

That would have been even more embarrassing.

0:18:210:18:24

For the nation's unsung local heroes like Bev,

0:18:300:18:33

keeping us, the public, safe is an ongoing battle.

0:18:330:18:36

My job is really very varied.

0:18:360:18:39

We would look at investigating any sort of food borne illnesses,

0:18:390:18:43

or food outbreaks, you know, health and safety.

0:18:430:18:46

You know, we prevent them accidents.

0:18:460:18:48

We want to make sure people are doing a day's work

0:18:480:18:51

and going home at the end of the night.

0:18:510:18:53

Bev has joined forces with colleague Sian Dyer

0:18:540:18:57

to check up on a business that they've visited four times

0:18:570:19:00

in the last seven months.

0:19:000:19:02

On her last visit to this cash and carry,

0:19:020:19:04

Bev found numerous causes for concern.

0:19:040:19:07

So today they're making a surprise inspection.

0:19:070:19:10

The last visit there was some butchery equipment,

0:19:100:19:14

band saw machines. They've got some lifting equipment.

0:19:140:19:17

They're things that we need to double check on whilst we're here, as well.

0:19:170:19:22

Latest estimates show that workplace injuries and ill health

0:19:220:19:26

in Great Britain cost us £13.8 billion.

0:19:260:19:29

But without the vital inspections and spot checks

0:19:290:19:33

of council officers like Bev and Sian

0:19:330:19:35

these figures might be even higher.

0:19:350:19:37

Good afternoon.

0:19:370:19:39

-We're just here today to do your routine food inspection.

-OK.

0:19:390:19:42

Just to have a look at your butchery area, as well.

0:19:420:19:45

-At the end of the visit we'll have a chat with you.

-OK.

0:19:450:19:48

Great, all right, thanks very much.

0:19:480:19:50

We kind of look really at procedures.

0:19:500:19:52

We look at what they're doing. We look at how they're doing things.

0:19:520:19:55

We look to make sure they've got things in place

0:19:550:19:58

to keep things safe.

0:19:580:20:00

What we're doing at the moment, we're looking to make sure that all of the walkways are all clear.

0:20:010:20:06

Obviously, we look for cleanliness, we make sure there's no obstruction

0:20:060:20:10

and nobody's at risk of getting hurt, or anything.

0:20:100:20:12

Should illness or injury occur, the business itself could be prosecuted.

0:20:120:20:16

The council's responsibility is to check that health and safety protocols are being followed.

0:20:160:20:21

If they aren't, the business could be closed down.

0:20:210:20:25

-Is it all just raw meat that you cut up in here?

-Yeah.

0:20:260:20:29

-You don't buy any cooked-in foods, or anything?

-No, just fresh.

0:20:290:20:32

It's all fresh, raw meat.

0:20:320:20:35

The officers have longstanding concerns about health and safety in this cash and carry.

0:20:350:20:40

Previous problems have arisen with the butcher's electric saw.

0:20:400:20:44

Is this isolated?

0:20:440:20:46

It's turned off?

0:20:460:20:48

Safety procedures have not been followed.

0:20:480:20:50

If not used with the protective guard, the saw could be lethal.

0:20:500:20:54

A lot of the work that was noted last time,

0:20:540:20:57

they've been actioned now,

0:20:570:20:59

so we can say some improvements have already been made.

0:20:590:21:02

I assume that the guards on the band saw,

0:21:020:21:05

I think when Sian has gone to have a look,

0:21:050:21:07

that was maybe one of the problems that was picked up last time.

0:21:070:21:10

-It's good, you've got your guard in place there.

-Yeah.

0:21:100:21:13

It's good news. Atif the owner has acted on the council's previous guidance.

0:21:130:21:18

But Bev and Sian aren't finished yet.

0:21:180:21:21

-There's a storage room upstairs.

-Storage, OK.

0:21:210:21:23

As they head upstairs, more potential problems appear.

0:21:230:21:28

-So this is all your dry stock up here, is it?

-Yeah.

0:21:290:21:32

-I notice some of your levels are stacked quite high.

-Mm-hm.

0:21:320:21:36

-Can you see?

-Yeah.

0:21:360:21:37

If that tumbles, somebody's underneath that, you're in trouble.

0:21:370:21:42

-Does prayer take place up here, as well?

-Yeah.

0:21:420:21:45

Yeah, OK. My concern is that your prayer mat here,

0:21:450:21:48

somebody's going to end up with bottles of Iru-Bru on their head.

0:21:480:21:51

Again, that's just something, we need to bring them levels down. OK.

0:21:510:21:55

As Bev's investigation goes on, one major issue emerges

0:21:550:21:59

and it's putting the store's employees and customers in danger.

0:21:590:22:03

How is the stock brought up here?

0:22:030:22:05

Is that brought upstairs?

0:22:050:22:07

A lift.

0:22:070:22:09

Do you not have a guard that stops anybody falling over that?

0:22:090:22:13

It's just...

0:22:130:22:14

The balcony opens onto an unguarded 15-foot drop.

0:22:140:22:17

There's nothing in place to prevent the dangerously high stock,

0:22:190:22:22

or employees, falling to the floor below.

0:22:220:22:25

Atif tries to solve the problem with a quick fix

0:22:280:22:31

- a flimsy piece of wood.

0:22:310:22:34

But it's nowhere near enough to satisfy the officers.

0:22:340:22:38

Let me check.

0:22:400:22:42

-Let me call the guy who will deal with it.

-That'd be great, thanks.

0:22:420:22:47

An employee tries to help out and comes to his boss's aid.

0:22:500:22:53

But Bev's concerns remain.

0:22:560:22:58

Am I right in thinking that guard's not being used at the moment?

0:22:580:23:02

Somebody is coming and using this one as well.

0:23:020:23:06

-Right, so it's normally when the forklift's...

-Yeah, yeah.

0:23:070:23:11

-It's used...

-The forklift's not too much used in the week, or day, sorry.

-OK.

0:23:110:23:15

The makeshift barrier is simply not good enough for Bev and Sian.

0:23:170:23:21

If stock was to fall from this height,

0:23:210:23:23

anyone below could be seriously injured.

0:23:230:23:27

If anyone falls onto here, it's going to topple over.

0:23:270:23:30

If you've got customers walking below,

0:23:300:23:32

you don't want that falling onto them.

0:23:320:23:34

We don't encourage customers, there's one yellow line...

0:23:340:23:38

You might not encourage it but as you've found yourself,

0:23:380:23:41

if you're not by the till and somebody else is,

0:23:410:23:43

it's going to be very difficult, isn't it?

0:23:430:23:46

-So when can the, erm...

-Definitely in a few days.

0:23:460:23:50

It needs to be done today.

0:23:500:23:52

I will try to do it today.

0:23:520:23:54

I'm short of staff, it's not easy, so...

0:23:540:23:56

My suggestion would be, close the door for ten minutes and do it.

0:23:560:24:01

Yeah, that's true.

0:24:010:24:02

-My concern is this has been mentioned before.

-Has it?

-Mmm.

0:24:020:24:06

I'm losing confidence.

0:24:060:24:08

-You don't need to.

-I am.

-Trust me.

0:24:080:24:10

I'm losing confidence that one, it's going to be done today...

0:24:100:24:13

This shop is like, I'm running this shop from recently.

0:24:130:24:18

This used to be my brother's company, I bought from him.

0:24:180:24:22

And now... This is first time I have...

0:24:220:24:25

So definitely I will do it.

0:24:250:24:27

It is bread and butter for me, you know, I don't want to lose it.

0:24:270:24:32

-If it's not, we will look at serving notice, to make sure it gets done.

-No problem.

0:24:320:24:36

Coming up, Bev and Sian's inspection uncovers even more hazards

0:24:370:24:42

putting lives and the future of this business at risk.

0:24:420:24:46

I keep getting a smell of smoke.

0:24:460:24:48

Our country's unsung council heroes are on the front line

0:24:510:24:55

everyday fighting to make best use of the nation's money.

0:24:550:24:59

But because we're all paying for their services,

0:24:590:25:01

we've all got an opinion on their work, both good and bad.

0:25:010:25:05

I think overall, the council do a good job, but I do think they've

0:25:060:25:10

got to keep their priorities right and not waste money on stupid things.

0:25:100:25:14

I suppose they do their job reasonably well.

0:25:160:25:20

The council is very,

0:25:200:25:22

very good at making sure you pay your council tax.

0:25:220:25:26

They are not so good at checking up on some of their employees,

0:25:260:25:30

the bin men, for example.

0:25:300:25:32

They missed three streets not so very long ago

0:25:320:25:35

and when their department was phoned up and asked about it,

0:25:350:25:40

we were informed that all our bins had been emptied.

0:25:400:25:43

But in actual fact,

0:25:430:25:44

they were standing on the pavement full waiting to be emptied.

0:25:440:25:47

We are under austerity times

0:25:480:25:49

and there is only so much money in the pot.

0:25:490:25:51

At the end of the day, I think society has been spoiled

0:25:510:25:54

over the past 20 or 30 years with all

0:25:540:25:56

this increase in public spending, and the reality of it is we have

0:25:560:26:00

all been living beyond our means for a very, very long time.

0:26:000:26:03

And sooner or later, we have got to face the music.

0:26:030:26:05

We are now starting to face the music.

0:26:050:26:08

Local authorities nationwide might be battling funding cuts

0:26:160:26:20

but demand for their services doesn't cease,

0:26:200:26:23

neither does the determination of heroic officers like Bev and Sian.

0:26:230:26:27

Their inspection of a local cash and carry

0:26:280:26:30

has already highlighted some potentially lethal hazards.

0:26:300:26:34

-I'm losing confidence, really.

-You don't need to.

-I am.

0:26:340:26:38

Now the officers are heading down into the bowels of the building.

0:26:380:26:42

Does your light work in here?

0:26:420:26:44

It does on this one, but that one it's not working.

0:26:440:26:47

It's not working really, it needs tidying up, doesn't it?

0:26:470:26:50

Is smoking taking place down here? I keep getting a smell of smoke.

0:26:500:26:55

I don't smoke.

0:26:550:26:56

There is no evidence but I keep getting a smell of smoke

0:26:560:26:59

so you need to make sure your staff are not coming down and smoking.

0:26:590:27:02

Smoking in the work place is illegal.

0:27:040:27:07

I think we've found the smoke room.

0:27:070:27:09

Fines of up to £2,500 can be issued,

0:27:090:27:12

a huge sum for small business owners like Atif.

0:27:120:27:15

OK, this is something that needs to be stopped.

0:27:150:27:18

It's not the smell that's the problem, the problem is it's not

0:27:180:27:23

legal to smoke in a work business or indoors in a place like this.

0:27:230:27:28

The problems continue to mount for Atif.

0:27:280:27:31

And the more they investigate, the more Bev and Sian uncover.

0:27:310:27:34

Is there a light down here?

0:27:360:27:38

Yeah, there is a light...

0:27:390:27:41

-This one here?

-Yeah, that's the one.

0:27:410:27:44

-OK. Little bit wet, that one.

-Is it?

-Where's the moisture coming from?

0:27:450:27:51

The water running down the light switch is a serious breach

0:27:510:27:54

of health and safety guidelines.

0:27:540:27:56

-Don't touch it.

-No, I'm going to not touch that one.

0:27:570:28:00

It increases the chance of an employee suffering

0:28:000:28:02

a potentially fatal electric shock.

0:28:020:28:05

In one year alone in Great Britain, 350,000 people were injured,

0:28:050:28:10

and 28 people killed

0:28:100:28:11

by low voltage electrocutions.

0:28:110:28:14

-I need to change it, definitely.

-Who's put this on for you?

0:28:140:28:18

-This one guy.

-He's an electrician, is he?

0:28:180:28:22

He's a proper electrician, qualified, yeah.

0:28:220:28:24

You need to get him back out to have a look at that.

0:28:240:28:27

-Definitely, it's a bit risky.

-It's a lot risky!

0:28:270:28:31

Sometimes you can see that problems have occurred that perhaps could be

0:28:310:28:35

rectified quite quickly,

0:28:350:28:38

and problems that are occurring that is probably not something

0:28:380:28:40

they've picked up on. But on the other end of the scale,

0:28:400:28:43

you have businesses that are flouting the law,

0:28:430:28:46

they're cutting every corner to make...

0:28:460:28:49

Money really is just what's important to them and nothing else.

0:28:490:28:52

With customers and employees at serious risk of electrical shock,

0:28:520:28:57

stock piled dangerously high and an unguarded drop

0:28:570:29:00

of 15 feet, this business has a lot of work to do.

0:29:000:29:05

I think what we'll probably do is call back a little bit later.

0:29:050:29:08

As I said to you earlier, I'm not sure

0:29:080:29:11

if you have got any more employees coming in tonight to do

0:29:110:29:13

an evening shift or anything, but I think it is all hands on deck

0:29:130:29:16

at the moment, and even if it means closing the business for

0:29:160:29:19

10 or 15 minutes and just bringing that to a reasonable level.

0:29:190:29:22

But we will pop back later this afternoon and have a look at that.

0:29:220:29:26

Thank you very much.

0:29:260:29:27

The owners now have two hours

0:29:270:29:28

to address these vital health and safety issues.

0:29:280:29:31

If they don't make significant changes,

0:29:310:29:34

Bev and Sian have the power to close the business until they do.

0:29:340:29:37

Across the borough, at the council's crematorium, Mike Gurney is going

0:29:460:29:51

through the documents he found at the recently deceased man's home.

0:29:510:29:54

Main thing we're looking for is contact with family.

0:29:560:30:00

So let's get some...

0:30:000:30:01

-Let's get that. Is that the issue paper?

-Yeah.

0:30:010:30:04

It seems that the man died without any surviving relatives.

0:30:050:30:09

In the UK, when this happens,

0:30:090:30:11

it's the council's job to arrange their funeral.

0:30:110:30:14

Mike and his team work hard to ensure that everyone is given a

0:30:140:30:17

respectful farewell, no matter what their personal circumstances are.

0:30:170:30:22

The council have a funeral director contracted to work with us,

0:30:220:30:26

so we do get a reduced price,

0:30:260:30:28

and we have a funeral director that we use regularly.

0:30:280:30:30

And it's about £1,300 for a basic funeral.

0:30:300:30:33

Here y'are. Look. Birth certificate.

0:30:330:30:35

Brilliant. That's what I'm after.

0:30:350:30:38

That'll give us more information, won't it? Look at these.

0:30:380:30:41

Oh, this is good.

0:30:420:30:44

This will give us... Copy of birth certificate. Born, Tameside Hospital.

0:30:440:30:49

-He had a driving licence.

-That is good.

0:30:490:30:53

We found that he was a man who'd been in employment for most of his life.

0:30:530:30:56

We found he'd been a bus driver, he'd done engineering, got certificates

0:30:560:31:00

in engineering. He was very into his films. He enjoyed doing quizzes.

0:31:000:31:05

This looks like old job stuff.

0:31:050:31:07

It looks like he has been looking for work for a long time.

0:31:070:31:09

He kept a log of all the jobs he had applied for and couldn't get a job.

0:31:090:31:13

He was obviously a very organised man, that's what came across.

0:31:130:31:17

We've got his confirmed date of birth there is 31 May 1958,

0:31:170:31:21

what does that make him? 55, isn't it?

0:31:210:31:23

Mike's efforts are paying off.

0:31:270:31:28

He's discovered a lot about the dead man, Stephen Jones' life.

0:31:280:31:32

Four blank cards. No addresses on any.

0:31:320:31:37

But he hasn't found anything to link him with relatives.

0:31:370:31:40

It's looking like we can't find any family details.

0:31:400:31:44

I'll be taking this on board now to raise a funeral

0:31:440:31:46

so we can stop any further delay.

0:31:460:31:49

And give him a good send off.

0:31:500:31:52

With no remaining family, Mike's quest to arrange a fitting farewell

0:31:540:31:58

for Stephen is not easy.

0:31:580:32:00

Still to come,

0:32:020:32:03

the day of the funeral arrives but will Mike be able to galvanise the

0:32:030:32:07

community to pay their respects to a quiet neighbour they barely knew?

0:32:070:32:11

It's been two hours since enforcement officers

0:32:180:32:20

Bev and Sian told the cash and carry

0:32:200:32:22

with a dangerous drop to make its premises safe.

0:32:220:32:26

I'm losing confidence that it's going to be done today.

0:32:260:32:29

If it's not, then we will look at serving a notice.

0:32:290:32:32

How have we done up there? Can we have a look? Is that all right?

0:32:320:32:38

Now the officers are back.

0:32:380:32:41

If the owners haven't made the business safe,

0:32:410:32:43

the store could be shut down.

0:32:430:32:44

This is better, OK. So, the pallets they'll be taken away, will they?

0:32:440:32:51

-Yeah.

-OK, so the issue we've got we need to lower these.

-Definitely.

0:32:510:32:55

With the barrier in place, the shop has taken some steps towards

0:32:550:32:58

improving safety, and Bev and Sian decide it can stay open.

0:32:580:33:02

We will monitor that business.

0:33:020:33:04

It will still come up in the programmed inspections,

0:33:040:33:06

and revisits will occur obviously to check that they are complying

0:33:060:33:10

with any contraventions that were identified at the time.

0:33:100:33:14

-Thanks very much.

-Thanks very much.

0:33:140:33:16

So I would say now that the business has become compliant.

0:33:160:33:21

They are more aware, obviously, of the dangers.

0:33:210:33:23

They will continue to work with myself

0:33:230:33:25

and my colleague to put right what was wrong.

0:33:250:33:27

The council will keep a close eye on this business to ensure

0:33:280:33:32

the public and employees stay safe and secure.

0:33:320:33:35

Across the country our heroic local council officers share

0:33:450:33:49

a strong sense of commitment to the people they serve.

0:33:490:33:52

And their dedication often extends to days

0:33:520:33:55

when they're supposed to be off duty.

0:33:550:33:57

This morning, the borough's annual triathlon is taking place, and

0:33:570:34:01

as always, officers from the local authority are on hand to help out.

0:34:010:34:05

A lot of council officers live and work in the borough

0:34:050:34:09

and it's not unusual to see them in different roles.

0:34:090:34:12

You might see them one day at work, you might see them

0:34:120:34:15

the next day leading or marshalling in the triathlon, or other events.

0:34:150:34:20

Council staff like Ian have volunteered to help out,

0:34:200:34:23

ensuring the event runs smoothly and keeping competitors safe.

0:34:230:34:27

I get involved in the triathlon because I'm involved with the local cycling club

0:34:270:34:30

and it is about the community giving something back,

0:34:300:34:33

bringing the community out and giving people a go.

0:34:330:34:35

Hiya.

0:34:350:34:36

What we wanted here was something that anybody could come and have a go at.

0:34:360:34:40

There'll be different abilities in the group and you can have a go

0:34:400:34:43

and you'd be supported in a friendly environment.

0:34:430:34:45

People might go away and think, "I'll take up cycling, I might join the gym.

0:34:450:34:49

"I might start running." That's only going to be a good thing.

0:34:490:34:53

The triathlon starts with a 500-metre swim,

0:34:530:34:56

followed by a 15-kilometre mountain bike ride.

0:34:560:34:59

To finish, competitors have a 10-kilometre run to complete.

0:34:590:35:02

To show how it's done, the council's chief executive,

0:35:020:35:05

Steve Pleasant, is taking part.

0:35:050:35:07

I'm very nervous at the moment

0:35:070:35:09

because I have never done anything like this before in my life.

0:35:090:35:12

I don't know how I got convinced to do it.

0:35:120:35:14

It was an act of bravado but now, actually, I'm very, very anxious.

0:35:140:35:17

This is all about survival today, from me.

0:35:200:35:23

If I can just get through and get round, I'll be very, very happy.

0:35:230:35:26

For chief exec, Steve...

0:35:280:35:30

One down.

0:35:300:35:32

..and council officers, like Mike...

0:35:320:35:34

and Bev, giving up their time is a way to do

0:35:340:35:37

more for their residents and have a bit of fun.

0:35:370:35:42

I love it. I get to tell people I'm taking part in the triathlon

0:35:420:35:44

and they just think, naturally, that I'm riding,

0:35:440:35:47

swimming or running. I'm not, I'm just doing the easy bit

0:35:470:35:49

of standing here and making sure they stick by the path.

0:35:490:35:53

Yeah, it's good fun.

0:35:530:35:54

Straight right. Well done.

0:35:540:35:56

It's a wet and windy Sunday morning

0:35:560:35:58

and it's not just the competitors keeping Mike busy.

0:35:580:36:01

You're going right. Oh!

0:36:010:36:04

Come on, Dobbin.

0:36:040:36:06

OK.

0:36:070:36:09

I didn't know that was in my job description!

0:36:110:36:14

It's just a great team at work, it really is.

0:36:140:36:16

There are so many organisations relying on charitable work, these days.

0:36:160:36:20

You know, councils can't always support them like they used to.

0:36:200:36:22

So we just want to get involved with the community, the best we can.

0:36:220:36:26

It's good fun, it's keeping healthy, it's keeping fit.

0:36:260:36:28

That's what it's about.

0:36:280:36:31

CHEERING

0:36:370:36:39

After a gruelling two hours,

0:36:390:36:40

the council's chief executive is coming to the end of his ordeal.

0:36:400:36:43

That was hard.

0:36:430:36:47

That was really hard.

0:36:470:36:48

Anyway, I'm very happy now, very happy indeed.

0:36:480:36:51

I need you to just leave me alone while I sit down and die somewhere.

0:36:510:36:54

Thank you very much.

0:36:540:36:55

Steve is one of over 100 people who took part.

0:36:590:37:02

He decided to lead by example and, having done months of training

0:37:020:37:06

ahead of the event, he's eager to see where he finished.

0:37:060:37:09

I came 19th.

0:37:110:37:13

Very respectable, I'm very pleased with that.

0:37:130:37:16

This is the first time I've ever done a triathlon, so, really good.

0:37:160:37:20

What a great event. What a fantastic event. All these people doing this.

0:37:200:37:24

The weather was OK.

0:37:240:37:27

Everyone has had a really great time.

0:37:270:37:28

In first place, our champion for 2013,

0:37:280:37:32

in a time of 1:47:31,

0:37:320:37:34

representing the High Peaks Cycles,

0:37:340:37:36

-Gregg McNally!

-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:37:360:37:38

The hard work of the dedicated volunteers has ensured

0:37:380:37:41

the event was a huge success.

0:37:410:37:43

If you're working in the public sector

0:37:430:37:45

then your motivations will be very much about improving the lot of the local community.

0:37:450:37:50

It's no surprise that you'll find people who work in the Town Hall

0:37:500:37:53

actually involved with the church, involved with the food bank,

0:37:530:37:56

involved with organising triathlons

0:37:560:37:58

because they want to make a difference locally.

0:37:580:38:01

Ian and his colleagues will be back at the council in the morning.

0:38:020:38:05

For some, the work doesn't end here.

0:38:050:38:08

My work's not finished, no.

0:38:080:38:10

I've got to go out and collect all the signs in now!

0:38:100:38:14

It's a new day and, at the crematorium, Mike Gurney

0:38:270:38:30

is making last-minute preparations ahead of the funeral

0:38:300:38:33

of resident Stephen Jones, a man who died with no surviving family.

0:38:330:38:38

It's Mike here from the Environmental Services. I'm dealing with a community funeral.

0:38:380:38:42

It's absolutely critical to me that things go well.

0:38:420:38:45

You know, all sorts can go wrong but it's for us

0:38:450:38:47

to make sure the public don't know what's gone wrong

0:38:470:38:49

and to make sure their service is spot-on, really.

0:38:490:38:52

The minister taking the service thought it would be appropriate if I did a reading today.

0:38:540:38:58

I don't know the gentleman but you feel like when you've been through his belongings at home

0:38:580:39:02

you start to get a picture of the chap.

0:39:020:39:03

I've chosen a reading which I thought was appropriate for today's funeral.

0:39:030:39:08

Mike and the council team have been working hard to ensure that

0:39:080:39:11

Stephen gets a good send-off.

0:39:110:39:14

We've notified a lot of the neighbours near where Stephen lived

0:39:140:39:17

because a lot of these funerals there's nobody there.

0:39:170:39:20

This one today, I think, there will be a number of people coming which will be great.

0:39:200:39:24

There seems to be a lot of community spirit in the area where

0:39:240:39:26

Stephen lived and they are all wanting to pay their respects.

0:39:260:39:30

Mike's efforts have paid off.

0:39:360:39:37

Stephen's neighbours and other members of the community

0:39:370:39:41

have arrived at the crematorium.

0:39:410:39:42

Normally for community funerals there's nobody there except myself,

0:39:420:39:45

or my staff, who always sit in on a funeral. We never let a funeral go ahead with nobody there.

0:39:450:39:50

Stephen's was a different one because he lived in an area

0:39:500:39:52

where neighbours looked out for each other.

0:39:520:39:55

And, erm, it was a good turnout for him. I was pleased, yeah.

0:39:550:39:59

In front of the gathered mourners, it falls to Mike to give

0:39:590:40:03

a reading about a man he never met but has recently come to know.

0:40:030:40:08

I would like to say thank you, on behalf of Tameside Council,

0:40:090:40:12

for attending Stephen's funeral today.

0:40:120:40:14

What's become clear in arranging this funeral is the community spirit

0:40:140:40:17

in the Dukinfield area, where Stephen lived

0:40:170:40:20

and the desire to give Stephen, your neighbour, your friend,

0:40:200:40:23

your drinking partner, maybe, a proper send-off.

0:40:230:40:26

Going through all his belongings in his house, you feel like you get to know somebody a little bit

0:40:260:40:30

and nobody else, there was no other family.

0:40:300:40:33

It just felt fitting that I should do a reading.

0:40:330:40:36

"You can remember him and only that he is gone.

0:40:360:40:39

"Or, you can cherish his memory and let it live on.

0:40:390:40:42

"You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,

0:40:430:40:48

"or you can do what he would want,

0:40:480:40:50

"smile, open your eyes, love and go on."

0:40:500:40:54

Thank you.

0:40:540:40:56

In helping to galvanise the community,

0:41:000:41:02

Mike has ensured that Stephen received a gracious send-off.

0:41:020:41:06

He had a smile for people, as we know.

0:41:090:41:13

We would see him shopping, we'd say hello,

0:41:130:41:16

pass a few words but not too many.

0:41:160:41:19

We didn't know too much about him.

0:41:190:41:21

I think it went very well, really.

0:41:210:41:23

It was good to see so many people there

0:41:230:41:25

and it was good that community spirit, that was clearly evident.

0:41:250:41:29

A lot of them commented how lovely the service was.

0:41:290:41:31

They all said they learnt a lot about him they didn't know,

0:41:310:41:34

which was from the information we found in his flat, really.

0:41:340:41:36

You know, I think it went really well and I feel we've done him justice.

0:41:360:41:40

Mike's hard work has ensured a respectful funeral for a man

0:41:440:41:48

who died without any family to say farewell.

0:41:480:41:51

It's another vital role our councils perform

0:41:510:41:54

and one that most of us don't even think about.

0:41:540:41:57

There's probably lots of things in the council that people are doing that the public aren't aware of.

0:41:570:42:01

It's not something you advertise, it's something that's done quietly

0:42:010:42:05

and, you know, without too much fuss.

0:42:050:42:07

It's something that we do regularly

0:42:070:42:09

and it's sad to think there are people out there, in our borough,

0:42:090:42:12

living alone, on their own, that people haven't noticed

0:42:120:42:15

they're missing, which I find quite sad in many ways.

0:42:150:42:19

That's the way society is, I suppose.

0:42:190:42:22

There's probably people in all our streets that are living alone

0:42:220:42:25

and recluse and people don't realise they've died.

0:42:250:42:28

Once again the country's dedicated council officers have been

0:42:350:42:38

hard at work.

0:42:380:42:40

They have reassured worried residents.

0:42:400:42:42

-It's not an insect, you're all right.

-Good.

0:42:420:42:44

-We call it a cardamom pod.

-Oh, right.

0:42:440:42:46

Ensured businesses keep their premises safe for customers

0:42:460:42:49

and employees alike.

0:42:490:42:51

Do you not have a guard there that stops, obviously, anybody falling over that?

0:42:510:42:55

And looked after their residents in life and in death.

0:42:550:42:58

I'd just like to say thank you on behalf of Tameside Council

0:42:580:43:01

for attending Stephen's funeral today.

0:43:010:43:04

All this when we call the council.

0:43:040:43:06

Hello, Bereavement Services.

0:43:060:43:08

I don't know what will be on my gravestone but people often ask

0:43:080:43:11

what's going to happen to me when I die.

0:43:110:43:13

I've told them I'm going to be cremated

0:43:130:43:15

and I'm going to have my ashes scattered at Harvey Nichols in Manchester.

0:43:150:43:18

That's because at least my wife will visit me twice a week!

0:43:180:43:22

This episode shows how local councils care for us in life and in death as Mike Gurney, head of the bereavement services team, turns detective when a resident dies alone. Environmental health officers help a resident worried by what she finds in her curry, and respond when staff and shoppers are put in danger at a cash and carry.


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