Series following council officers. Council officers fight a fire that threatens the health of their residents and pursue a personal battle against the pigeon population.
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From waste and recycling to pest control and trading standards,
the taxes that we pay to our local councils
are used to provide many of our most essential services.
I like people who are keen to recycle.
In this series, we follow the front-line staff
working behind the walls of Tameside town hall in Greater Manchester.
Like council officers across the country, these local
heroes are waging war on those blighting our communities.
Oi, oi, oi! Excuse me, love. You can't do that.
They're protecting us from hidden dangers...
If there's rodent activity in your kitchen, you won't be opening tonight. It's that simple.
..making sure our cash is spent on those who need it most...
I'm at a loose end. I do not know where to turn.
..and responding to their residents when they call the Council.
Coming up in today's programme...
Council officers fight a fire that's threatening
the health of their residents...
You can't burn trade waste. You're going to have to stop burning.
..pursue a personal battle against the borough's pigeon population...
"Please do not feed pigeons."
..and tackle a takeaway that's in danger of being overrun by rats
and raw sewage.
There's still quite a lot of waste on the ground
and there's a lot of rat droppings in here.
Nearly two million people are employed by the UK's 433 local authorities.
Who's next, please?
These local heroes are fighting
to protect us, the public - and our money.
Whether it's pest control, food safety or trading standards,
like most taxpayers in Britain, the people of Tameside expect
a speedy response when they call the Council.
Good morning, Environmental Services. Phil Rodgers speaking.
The number of complaints that we normally receive can vary
quite dramatically and one week I can get ten in a week or maybe more.
Yeah. I'll see what I can do. OK.
It depends whether there is some...
Sometimes, when there are inherent issues
that everybody in the local area wants dealing with,
we'll get bombarded with complaints from the localised area
so we'll be inundated.
Every year Councils in England and Wales receive over
50 million enquiries from residents asking for help or alerting
the Council to something they feel is wrong.
But before any of the officers at the Council HQ
can start responding to today's calls,
ever-vigilant Enforcement Officer Phil Rodgers has spotted someone
causing a nuisance and needs to take action.
Somebody's having a bit of a bonfire over there.
-Go and get 'em!
Whether it's from a fire like this or even road transport,
air pollution harms our health and wellbeing.
Currently, it's estimated to reduce the life expectancy
of everyone in the UK by six months on average,
at a cost of around £16 billion per year.
In one year alone, local authorities received over
14,000 complaints about smoke,
significantly more than complaints
made about any other nuisance.
Officers Phil Rodgers
and Pete Grimes are en route to investigate this latest issue.
If you're going to burn something, you're going to create a smoke nuisance.
Don't do it within a stone's throw of the Council buildings
where everyone can see you, where the likelihood is someone's going to report it, never mind the fact
that our office looks right over the top of it and we can see it!
Excuse me, fella. Can we just have a word a minute, please, make?
From the local authority. We need to come in and have a look, mate.
Behind the gate, Phil and Pete find the fire,
the man who started it and some potentially toxic materials.
Under legislation, the Environmental Protection Act, Section 46,
you can't burn trade waste. You're going to have to stop burning.
You're going to have to get a skip or dispose of it by other means
like going to the tip. The smoke issue causes a nuisance as well, so you've got to be really careful.
-We're there in the Council office.
-We can see it.
The landowner has paid the workmen to clear the space, and the officers
need to step in before any toxic trade waste is added to the fire.
Obviously the burning of tyres is distinctly bad because it
creates huge amounts of pallid black, awful smoke and it stinks.
It doesn't just rise off and disappear into the atmosphere.
It often sinks and makes people's...
Blackens people's washing, makes people's lives a misery.
If people have got windows open and stuff, it's awful.
That's asbestos. Probably asbestos.
Likely it's going to be... That can't... That's got to go.
There are potential health hazards
associated with the inhalation of asbestos.
If you ask for advice, we will give you the guidance that's
appropriate on how to get rid of it
and the Council will take it off your hands free of charge.
However, obviously, if you are a commercial premises,
and you're getting rid of that kind of stuff, well, unfortunately,
there is a charge for getting rid of it.
So obviously, that charge then leads people to want to get
rid of it in manners which are not legal.
So I'll let that die down. No more on that. All right, mate.
Cheers for that.
The current economic climate means times are tough
but it looks like cutting corners has cost this man
and his employer a lot more than they bargained for.
He's probably agreed to do the job for 50 quid...
-And it's going to cost him 100 to get rid of that waste
at an official registered tip site.
He's just said there, to get one skip, one of the bigger skips,
you're looking at £180.
Rather go to a tip, or get a skip -
not burn it cos it's a cheap way of doing it.
Phil and Pete's speedy response to today's toxic smoke signals
has extinguished the dangerous possibility of any hazardous fumes
reaching Tameside's residents.
Council busy bodies!
Our local authorities fund their activities from three
main sources - grants from central Government, Council tax
and other locally generated fees and charges.
But wherever the money is coming from,
today's economic climate means every penny counts.
So when some residents start costing us unnecessary cash,
heroic Council officers get to work.
After local business owners called the Council to complain about
pigeon poo in the market square, Tameside's Pest Control Officer
Brian Whelan has started a war against the local pigeon population,
and the people encouraging them into the square by feeding them.
They're just flying rats, if you ask me.
They're not racing pigeons, or anything like that.
They're feral birds. They're full of diseases
and all they do is just guano everywhere.
You've got statues, you got monuments and everything and they just poo all over it.
We share the UK with an estimated
18 million feral pigeons who can carry up to
40 diseases harmful to humans.
Their droppings have a destructive effect on structures,
making pavements, ladders and fire escapes too dangerous to use.
They're one of the few birds recognised by the Government
as a nuisance pest and can be controlled using humane methods
and only with a licence.
But it's the public that are at the root of Brian's distress.
It's my biggest bane and I just wish people
would stop feeding the pigeons and just...
Then town centres would be lovely.
All your monuments, all your structures on buildings
wouldn't have this spiking on or anything like that.
It would all look nice.
But because people encourage them, that's what happens and it is...
It's a pet hate of mine, it really is. Ah... Don't...
It gets me... It gets in my goat, honest!
The problem area we've got where people are feeding
the pigeons is this seating area.
And as you can see, fair few roosting.
A lot of foulings on the roofs, people come at certain
times of the day, people have their own spot at a certain time.
They'll come and throw a load of food down.
But it's not just the pigeons, unfortunately.
I mean, it'll also encourage rats,
because there'll be a food source there for them so we have to
stop it, because at the end of the day, it's a shopping centre.
In a bid to stop the problem at source, Brian has set pigeon
traps on the roof of the market hall that overlooks the market square.
Once lured with corn, he relies on years of training
and experience to keep the pigeon population under control.
They're what we call dispatchers.
Put it round the pigeon's neck, twist it, pull.
Pigeon dies, put it in a bag, out of the way.
Brian set his traps a few days ago
and is hoping for a healthy haul this morning.
Normally we'll have about... ten, twelve.
Sometimes five in one, four in another.
Something like that.
Hopefully we'll have some in these.
There's none in that.
That one's empty, them two.
Bit of a disappointment.
One. That's an embarrassment.
Oh, no - there's two.
Obviously, they've got a big feed from down below.
That's the problem we've got.
You come back and it's like
"How many birds did you get today?" "None."
And it's a defeatist sort of thing because
if there's nothing in the cage then you've just wasted the corn.
And it is frustrating but you look down and you see why.
The thing is, against any pest, it may take a little bit of time.
But you will win the war in the end.
There's only one winner, and that's us pest controllers.
The feral pigeons, they cause a mess. They're a nuisance.
I know it's not a pleasant job and it's not everybody's job.
But there's jobs out there, you know, other people can't do.
But someone has to do it, unfortunately.
I mean, that's a poor show, two.
It's not very good, I'll be honest with you.
But we'll leave them set tonight and see if there's any more in tomorrow.
Having bagged just two birds today,
Brian's battle with the pigeon population of Tameside continues.
But if he's going to win this war,
he needs to enlist the human residents of the borough
and persuade them to stop feeding his feathered foes.
Coming up, Brian's campaign is joined by reinforcements.
Have you got them signs?
But mindless vandals put a dent in his enthusiasm and his progress.
I can't believe this.
While the nation's council officers are patrolling our streets,
in town hall call centres up and down the country
staff are busy helping residents when they call the council.
Good afternoon, customer services, Jake speaking, can I help?
But not all calls go quite to plan.
People ring up and ask us to send somebody out
to fix their washing machines, fix their fridges.
What do you expect us to do? Council call centre -
we deal with bin enquiries, we're not maintenance, we're not handymen.
Good morning, customer services, how can I help?
'There was a lady actually ringing me from Portland Basin,'
the main canal in Tameside,
and she was reporting a bin that was floating in the canal -
and it isn't really funny - but as she was speaking to me,
she actually fell into the canal,
so all I could hear was this water and this lady going into the canal.
We sent the emergency services and the lady was perfectly fine.
I could hear this water! "Hello! Hello!" "I'm drowning!"
Oh, dear. She did ring up the next week, just to say she was fine.
"I'm still alive and I'm fine! Now, can you get my bin emptied?!"
Thanks for calling. Bye.
As well as keeping our air pollution-free
and controlling the pest population,
local councils are responsible
for monitoring the hygiene of the nation's restaurants and takeaways.
The satisfaction of the job, really, is to help people
and to protect the people of Tameside,
particularly the old and the vulnerable.
Today, after concerned residents called the council,
Khush Ahmed and his fellow enforcement officer Monica Gartside
are inspecting a takeaway that has a history of rat infestations.
When rodents access buildings or premises like that,
they will walk across surfaces and, as we know, particularly rats,
they are incontinent all the time
so they will contaminate food or surfaces with their feet
and the actual dropping themselves.
The last thing you want is something like that to come across in food.
The takeaway's under new management,
but Monica's inspected these premises many times before,
even forcing it to close when under the previous owners.
I first went into the business about five years ago.
Since then, it's been at least three to four owners.
It's changed hands nearly every 12 months,
which is never a good sign.
It indicates the business isn't making any money, and if it doesn't
make any profit, there's not going to be a lot invested in hygiene.
With rat numbers estimated at ten million in the UK
and pest control officers attending nearly
20,000 rat-related callouts in one year,
we are never far from a rodent that could be carrying
listeria, weils and other deadly diseases.
Monica and Khush are back today
to see if there's any fresh evidence of rats.
If there is, the officers could close the takeaway down again.
Their first job is to inspect the takeaway's storeroom.
Under previous owners, it had been overrun with rodents.
Mr Sadeer, you need to clean all this up
because this grease is offering a food source to rats.
This is the old bait, this was laid by the previous owner.
There was over one kilo of bait eaten in here.
That's how bad the infestation was
and the premises had to be closed down.
You need to get rid of that pipe because it will allow a rat
to go into that pipe right through into your business.
It will follow that pipe along and go into the kitchen.
You need to sort that out as well.
There's still quite a lot of waste on the ground
and a lot of rat droppings.
I think they're the old droppings, but they need to be swept up
so you can check if you've got any new droppings.
You walk into premises, particularly food premises,
and you can see evidence of rodent infestation.
Why a business would want to carry on working in those conditions...
I don't know whether it's a lack of education or just pure ignorance
that, when you go in, you see things like that and people think that
it's all right for them to carry on working in those conditions.
-Oh, don't tell me. You're not using this fridge, are you?
Can you get rid of...? There's a rat dropping in there, look.
But it's not just the storeroom that's a cause for concern.
Part of the problems faced by the previous owner
stemmed from a blocked and overflowing sewage drain.
We'll probably need to lift this drain again.
Because the drain is on the takeaway's property,
it's their responsibility to clear it.
-This drain is still blocked.
-We've already cleared this once.
But there's a blockage outside.
There was some blockage outside, beyond that wall.
There's something wrong outside there.
I know that's not your problem, well, it's not your fault,
we'll deal with the outside,
but you need to make sure it's not coming from inside.
That's OK with me.
Drainage is really high priority.
If you get a backing-up of your drains,
it means you can't use your toilet, you can't use your sinks,
wash-hand basins, so the business can't operate.
I'll tell you, I'm very concerned about this.
I know where the problem is,
but it's within the curtilage of your premises, this food business.
When you've got raw sewage like that, and you can smell that,
within the curtilage of a food business, it's got to be of concern.
When we come back on the next visit,
we've got to see substantial improvement in this shed area,
this area, jet cleaned,
and then just reassess it.
Monica and Khush give the business just 24 hours to clean up.
If they fail to act, they'll be forced to close.
We shut people down because we feel that there is an imminent risk.
At the end of the day, we're protecting the public.
If we allowed these premises to remain open,
they would cause serious harm to individuals
or a group of people by the imminent risk present at the premises.
They're saying that the rats were coming
through the sewage or something.
Obviously, whenever you open a new business
and something like this happens, it's not fair on me, is it?
What have I got into? The previous owners didn't tell me about it.
with the future of this business hanging in the balance,
the council is forced to call in reinforcements
to try and solve its sewage problems.
Will you be able to get that pipe out?
We'll get it out one way or another.
We all pay taxes that go towards
the work of officers like Monica and Khush,
and because we're footing the bill,
we all have an opinion on what our local councils do,
whether it's rates, rubbish or roads.
There are always pot holes.
You've got all these speed humps,
they're never out gritting when they should be out.
It always seems to be if it's been a bad night,
it's always the night after they're out.
They're never on time with the gritting.
As a business owner, we need the car parks
and we need the prices to be reduced
because we depend on the customers coming to us
and if they can't come and park for a reasonable amount,
they're going to go somewhere else.
We've all tried to put this to the council,
but they don't want to know, really.
We don't have time to think really
about who does empty our bins,
about who does really educate our children,
who does really keep our streets well lit.
We do take them for granted.
But I think if people really did stop and think, then they'd realise
that it is our local council that keeps us safe.
Like them or loathe them,
our local councils are responsible
for many of our most essential services
and local council employees across the country
are committed to caring for us in life and even in death.
Working in one of the borough's eight cemeteries today
is council employee Geoff Dale
who has been digging graves for ten years.
When you tell them you're a grave-digger, they take a step back,
they're a bit surprised because it seems like an unusual job.
People don't expect you to say, "I'm a grave-digger."
But it's a good job. I like doing it.
Helping Geoff today is fellow digger Danny.
It's great. It's a bit of a party piece in a pub
when they ask what you do for a living, "I'm a grave-digger."
It's endless questions after that.
"That must be a dead-end job." They always say the same things.
"I bet that's depressing." It's not.
If you've got a good group of lads that you're working with,
it's a good laugh.
Straighten up on that corner there. On the wall, as well.
This is a normal size grave, this.
But we do get some really big sizes, like big people.
Some of the graves are twice the size of this.
I think it's... They are bigger people now, aren't they?
This is just a standard size, this one.
Today's task is fairly straightforward,
but both Geoff and Danny are well aware
that their occupation is not without its hazards.
I have seen a few things while I've been hand digging.
You know, boxes that have been rotted away.
You do come across the occasional bone.
But nothing too scary. Nothing I can't handle.
I've had one or two trips where I've sunk into the grave,
but not actually fell down the hole.
The worst thing what can happen is if a grave collapses.
That's a bad day, something like that happens.
But for Geoff and Danny, things are changing.
Like local councils nationwide, Tameside's budget is being slashed
and its staff numbers shrinking.
But the demand for a council's service doesn't cease,
so those employees that remain
are being called upon to undergo a broader range of duties.
For Geoff, that means a move into pest control
and joining up with Brian
on his campaign to reduce the pigeon population.
When I was first approached by pest control,
all I thought about was killing things, you know,
sort of killing animals and that.
That was one of me concerns.
Obviously, you work with poisons so you've got to be careful.
There's that aspect of it as well.
Right, Danny, just drop it in, mate.
As a relative newcomer to pest control,
Geoff is still coming to terms with exterminating pigeons.
The pigeons are just there, their little eyes open.
They're just still and they...
If somebody tried to do that to you, you'd be screaming. You'd fight back!
-They don't know what's going to happen, do they?
-They mustn't do.
They mustn't do.
Reckon they'd be easy to shoot?
You'd have to keep loading your... I don't know.
-You shoot it and it's instant.
-It's instant, yeah.
I think it's...
But it's not going to look very good carrying a gun around...
Cause an uproar.
Only time will tell if soft-souled Geoff can hack it
as a hard-hearted pest control officer.
But Geoff doesn't have long to wait
before starting his pest control duties.
Today he's joined up with Brian
and together they're ready to tackle the borough's pigeon population
and the people that have been feeding them.
You got them signs, yeah?
And with help from the powers-that-be,
Brian's made a major breakthrough.
Today, it was a milestone.
I've been after these signs to put down to stop the birds,
"stop feeding the pigeons".
Unfortunately, it is a slow progress.
It's not like some jobs where you get an instant result,
unfortunately it's just a slow thing
and you've got to grit your teeth and do it.
You've got to just keep on going and persevere.
I'm going to brush all this up now, clear it all up
and, hopefully, these signs will work. Please God.
If Brian and Geoff can persuade shoppers to stop feeding the birds,
they can keep the area free of pigeon poo
and the rodents that dine on their leftovers.
-Loads, isn't there, Geoff?
But putting the plans into practice
isn't as easy as Brian first thought.
Time for trainee Geoff to show his worth.
-You got a pin to stick in?
-Yeah, I have.
Shouldn't be carrying that, an offensive weapon in the street.
It's not very sharp.
You were in the Boy Scouts. Look at him.
I tell you what, I've never iced a cake!
I'm getting a lot of pleasure out of this.
Sad, isn't it? Putting signs up, and you get pleasure at work.
Just hope they can read it.
I don't mean the pigeons, I mean the people.
Can't get any plainer than that, can you? "Please do not feed pigeons."
With the signs finally fixed, Brian
and Geoff face an anxious wait to see if their efforts will pay off.
For local council heroes the length and breadth of the county,
public service is a vocation
and that means off-duty is not necessarily off guard.
When I eat out, am I on duty?
Yes, I am. Erm, it drives my family bonkers.
I'm quite fussy about where I go to eat. I suppose, I see more things
than your normal person would.
Obviously when you go out for the night, you're always thinking,
you know, of how this might have been prepared or what's going on
behind the scenes but that goes with the job, really.
When I mention what I do for a living, erm, a lot of people
immediately start giving excuses for why their houses aren't as clean as
they'd like to be and I think they
expect me to have a pristine kitchen.
So, people are quite aware of their own hygiene standards, suddenly.
And they often start talking about food and things they've got at the
back of the fridge and stuff like that.
Back on the streets, Monica's back on duty
and en route to the takeaway she inspected 24 hours ago
but this is far from a social visit.
The premises have been plagued by a blocked sewage pipe
and rats who may have been enticed by a filthy outhouse.
There's a lot of rat droppings in here.
Monica demanded a drastic clean up and, if she doesn't see huge
improvements today, she has the power to shut the place down.
Our first duty is to protect public health.
If the conditions exist in the business, to show and to give
evidence that there's an imminent risk to health,
then we would follow the course of the law and...
first of all, get the business closed, really.
And with public safety at stake, there's no room for sentiment.
It's not something I enjoy, I suppose. It's a quite stressful
part of the job to have to
close somewhere down, it's a big decision to make.
But it's just part of my job, so I
base it on the evidence, on what I find...and that's it, really!
Hi, there. Hi, Mr Sadeer, thank you.
Oh, you've levelled the floor.
I've levelled the floor, put a socket there.
-I've been here this morning, since eight o'clock.
Nice sitting room, though, isn't it?
It's really great, I'm delighted!
-I've put a bulb light there.
-Fantastic, that's really great.
Yeah, thank you. So, how did you get on with the drain?
What was it like the last time you looked down there?
-It was pretty low.
-Was it? OK.
-We'll have a look now.
-It's not rising, anyway.
It is still going.
What would be good, as well, if it would be possible to pour some water
down that gulley, just like a basin.
-How many gallons?
-Just like a pan.
That's all gone through there, yeah?
Yeah, that looks like there's something happening there, yeah.
The drain is running a little more freely
but is still not completely clear.
Takeaway employee Mr Sadeer thinks the source of problem lies
with an open drain in an old outhouse, belonging to the
derelict property next door.
-It was all about that.
-Oh, right, that's very bad.
-That's open there.
OK, I'll take a photograph.
The property being closed is next door,
it is affecting my business, as well.
This is a worry because this would
have been an outdoor toilet, years ago.
Which has a direct connection to the sewers below.
You can see it's not been capped properly,
so there's still a hole where the waste pipe would have been.
Erm, which is like a way for rats to get up.
I'll ask the owner of this business to take away all this rubble,
so that the drain here can be checked as well, to see if there's
cracks or the drain has collapsed.
The takeaway has done enough to avoid closure for now.
But the uncapped drain next door
still poses a threat to their business.
With its sewage still not flowing freely and the ominous potential
for rats to return, the victory for the takeaway will be short lived if
Monica can't find a way to unblock the street's decaying drains.
Back in the Market Square, the council's battle with
the local pigeon population has hit a snag.
Pest Control Officer Brian is desperate for residents to
stop feeding the birds.
Not only are they fouling the area's seats and monuments
but the excess food is encouraging rats.
Sadly, Brian's recently erected signs haven't attracted the right
type of attention.
I can't believe this!
It's disgusting what they've done.
You know, they moan about paying out money for things
and then they go and do this!
It's not as if you're like, it's scratched on or anything like that.
They've actually gone down deep into it.
It's just pathetic, I tell you!
Cleaning up the country's defaced buildings
and property costs us taxpayers over £1 billion a year.
Anyone caught putting graffiti on public property could face
ten years in prison or fines of £2,500.
Having had his signs spoiled by mindless vandals, Brian's even
more determined to stop the public
feeding the pigeons once and for all.
At the end of the day, if you're a bird lover or pigeon lover,
you wouldn't feed the pigeons here,
to attract them, so that we have to trap them.
They're feeding them, encouraging
them to land here, so I'll trap them and kill them.
Not my problem!
Nice clean sign.
Fortunately, Brian has some powerful allies.
In a bid to finally clip the pigeons' wings the council
has enlisted enforcement officer Robert Downey onto Brian's campaign.
Now, we've got someone there giving
them a fixed penalty, it'll soon stop it.
He has the power to dish out
£50 fines to anyone caught feeding the birds.
And right now, everyone's a suspect.
Most people are OK, they just didn't realise or it's habit.
They'll throw a chip, just put some
bread out and think they're just feeding the wildlife.
It's causing lots of mess and the
costs to keep it clean, it's astronomical at the moment.
You have to watch where you sit, cos
they're not frightened any more, are they?
It's a nice little area, we want to keep it nice for the shoppers.
-There's signs everywhere.
-They were all blacked off.
I know, we've just cleaned them.
Yeah, I don't think he'd even got around the corner there before
someone else was feeding them.
With support from Robert and at least one of Tameside's
residents, Brian's fight against his feathered foes -
and the less considerate locals that keep feeding them - goes on.
I mean, people have been moaning,
saying, "Is that all he's got to do is clean signs all day?"
But it's not the point. These have cost money and we're trying to clear
up the area, so people can sit here and have a bite to eat in their
dinner time and this is the thanks that you get!
It's just pointless, it really is!
Across town, Monica's colleague Khush has also enlisted some
In an effort to clear the drains behind the takeaway whose
sewage pipes were blocked and providing an open invitation
to rats, Khush has called in the utilities cavalry.
You can see around the chamber that
there's evidence of grease and fat around the chamber there.
We've checked the manhole outside
to see what the situation is inside.
Because the problem seems to lie in the shared sewage
pipes beyond the takeaway's boundary,
the responsibility to clear them lies with the utilities company.
But if the drains aren't cleared, Khush could still be forced to
close the takeaway and remove any risk to public health.
If you can show that there's an imminent risk of food being
contaminated, we have to take that
decision, we have to go down that route.
OK, so this section's all been a small amount of water.
Again, if you look at the top of the water there, we've got fat, oils...
-We'll carry out some work now
to identify what's causing that blockage.
It's a dirty job, one Khush has first-hand experience of.
When I was a student, I used to go out with the drainage guys
and when they would actually jet a drain to
clear the blockage, they used to say to you, go and stand
at the next drain to see whether it's been cleared, and as they would
jet it, with a really high-powered jet, all the faeces and all the
foul water would actually, literally, just come up and spray you whilst
you were looking down the drain.
And that's their sort of initiation
to drainage work, and that happened quite often to a lot of students.
30 years on, Khush has learned to love the job that takes him
to all the best places.
We certainly come across, you know, the whole range of work.
And that's dealing with filthy and verminous houses
to, you know, to dirty kitchens.
In terms of glamorous, I don't think, you know, you could describe the job
as glamorous, really, in that respect.
While Khush observes from a safe distance today,
the utility guys hit a problem.
Looks like I may need a larger unit to come out.
There's some quite large pieces of debris
which you'd struggle to get up this smaller type of tube.
-If we get a bigger unit
we've a bigger capacity and a larger tube to take that out.
Khush's last-ditch attempt to clear the drains
hits a snag.
Are you going to be able to get that pipe out?
Um, we won't get it with that
but we'll get it out one way or another.
Khush and his colleagues nationwide are battling to do
their best for the residents they serve,
but council officers across the land don't always get the best press.
It's just unfortunate sometimes
that we're portrayed in the media as officials
who just go round with clipboards and have these big checklists,
and we go through these checklists, but that's not the case.
There's a perception that if council workers are digging a hole -
three watching and one working.
I mean that's something
That's something that harks back to the 1950s, I would have thought.
I've been up to my waist in sewage
that had been coming into people's property and we've been trying to
get a drain unblocked
so that the water levels don't rise.
So you have to have a very strong stomach in this job, yes.
Somebody's quite welcome to spend a week in my shoes to tell me
that I'm a bone-idle, lazy council worker.
By all means feel free to come and I think they'll have
a different opinion at the end of the seven days.
Back on site, Khush's battle to clear fat,
grease and bricks from the collapsed drains is gathering momentum.
Having failed to clear the underground chambers with
their standard tanker, the utilities company has brought in the big guns.
Finally, with this 3,000-litre tanker,
the debris lodged in the drain can begin to be cleared.
That's the extent of the problem,
where you've got whole bricks that have fallen into the chamber
and that are part of the blockage.
And you can see the number of bricks that are being retrieved.
And these have fallen in from the chamber over a period of time.
Again I think it just shows the extent,
or the extent of the problem that we have here.
Not necessarily all the other foods, and the fats
and the oils - it's the age of the chamber itself
But even 21st-century super tankers
can get stumped by Victorian plumbing.
So that's actually dropped off, hasn't it, from the connection there?
That pipework's just dropped off from the connection.
That's supposed to go straight down and then straight into the invert.
-Will you be able to get that pipe out?
Yeah? Using this?
Um, I don't think we'll get it with that
but we'll it out one way or another.
But ultimately there's no real substitute
for some rope and old-fashioned, hands-on expertise.
Get the old lasso out here.
After weeks of investigation
and some hard graft, the chambers are finally cleared
but now it's down to the takeaway to ensure that their waste
doesn't affect the shared sewage network and block the drains again.
I mean, we're going to follow this up now
with the restaurant owner.
Advising him really to install a grease trap
so that none of the oils and the fats go directly into the drain.
And when the grease trap is installed,
that can be emptied on a regular basis.
It's all about education, really.
For now, the takeaway can continue to operate without
the threat of rats returning or sewage contaminating their kitchen.
I didn't like it when the first problem occurred
about the sewage
and it's not my fault. But at the moment I'm happy
that everything has been sorted out
because it's only been three months I'm in this business
so things are running smoothly now.
It's a very good result.
In terms of dealing with the business,
our main aim was to make sure
that there was no risk of contamination from
any drainage work,
or any drainage problems affecting the food business.
So that means chicken kebabs all round!
Once again, the country's
dedicated council officers have been hard at work.
These local heroes have been busy fighting fires.
Stuff like tyres and asbestos...
there's no way you can burn that.
Ridding the region of rats and seeping sewage.
This drain is so blocked.
I've already cleared this once.
And the battle to reduce the pigeon population
and educate those that feed them goes on.
I'll win this war against the pigeons. Not a problem.
It's all in a day's work when we call the council.
The satisfaction of the job is really to help people
and to protect the people of Tameside,
and particularly the old and the vulnerable.
Council officers heroically fight a fire that threatens the health of their residents, pursue a personal battle against the pigeon population and tackle a takeaway that's in danger of being overrun by rats and raw sewage.