Series following council officers. Local council enforcement officers respond when a family calls to complain about noisy neighbours.
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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...
The business owner's got a duty to make sure
that he is protecting his business
and the people that are coming in to buy food from his business.
..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 -
the Rosses call the council to complain about noisy neighbours...
It's just every single day. There's just, like, no off to it.
-Whereabouts is it?
An elderly resident needs help when a colony of angry wasps move in...
It's a good day today, but not for wasps.
..and officers need to act fast after locals report
disease-carrying rats running free near restaurants and takeaways.
If there's rodent activity in your kitchen,
you won't be opening tonight. It's that simple.
The UK's 433 local councils employ nearly two million people.
Be it trading standards or social services,
highways or waste management, these local heroes are busy making sure
their residents are safe and their taxes put to the best possible use.
Good morning. Tameside Council.
You seem to have a problem with rats?
Yeah, I can put you through to the pest control department, thank you.
When someone calls for help in Tameside,
four miles due east of Manchester's city centre,
the council's got someone to do even the dirtiest of jobs.
It could be rats, mice, could be cockroaches. You name it, we do it.
Today, Pest Control Officer Brian Whelan's responding to a call
from a concerned resident who's spotted a rat.
-See yous later.
-See you later, Brian.
Rats spread disease and spoil food.
Estimates suggest there are over ten million of them in the UK,
and as their numbers grow, so does the cost to the taxpayer
as council officers like Brian try to eliminate them.
We're going to a place now -
a lady reported rats around her back area,
so I'm going to have a look.
But Brian and his colleagues face an uphill battle.
Warmer weather means rats are surviving longer.
This, together with a rise in litter, waste,
and even bird-feeding,
means that their sources of food are plentiful and as a result,
the rat population is thriving.
What are you getting now, Brian?
I'm just going to get something to prod around these bushes
at the back and that, and see whether we can see anything.
Something like a rake, just have a look.
The resident who called Brian spotted rats in an alleyway
that runs behind a row of restaurants and takeaways.
Hopefully, we've got access through this gate.
Rats and restaurants don't mix.
There you go.
If rats are nearby, there's a serious public health risk.
Brian needs to find them and their food source fast.
(If you look down there... there's a rat's tail there.)
Oh, great, me bins have gone in!
I'm trying to get me bins back, pardon the pun.
Otherwise I won't see a bloody thing.
Oh, I don't believe that...
This rat's had a lucky escape.
Brian's lost his prey, and his glasses.
So, as you can see, there was one definitely in there.
Unfortunately...I've missed it.
I don't think it's playing ball, to be honest.
From his regular run-ins with the rat fraternity,
Brian's formed some strong opinions on their way of life.
They don't have any morals.
The mum will mate with the son.
The son will mate with the sister, the dad will mate with the daughter.
They are not like the human race, you know what I mean?
We have morals, so...
I'm just a bit peeved...that this one's not come out of here.
But Brian shouldn't be too disheartened
because rats can have as many as six litters
of up to ten babies a year.
So, if there's one rat here, there's bound to be more nearby.
If you look there you can see - if you look closely -
that that's a rat run. See how smooth the soil is?
There's no way the soil would be that smooth with this over it.
That's a decayed one, that's been dead for a long, long time.
And that was laid that way.
So, they're running in and out,
they're going in the backs of these places and they've got a food source.
If rats have accessed one of the nearby restaurants,
the public are at serious risk from diseases like Weil's, listeria,
and even salmonella.
Coming up - Brian brings in reinforcements
as more rats are spotted in a restaurant's back yard.
-Oh, just seen one there.
-Seen one there?
There was a rat, just running behind that blue bin there.
Local heroes like Brian
are on the front line in the fight to keep the borough safe
and most of Brian and his colleagues' jobs start
when people call the council.
Good morning, Customer Services, can I help you?
The council's call centre handles nearly 180,000 calls every year.
Welcome to Tameside Council. Karen speaking. How can I help?
Staff here try to help everyone,
but some issues are easier to solve than others.
You get all sorts of enquiries.
The questions that you get asked are just... Oh, they're just bizarre.
I've had a gentleman who asked me
if I could help him get rubbish out of his back passage.
Yes, we deal with that here.
It was one of those "Can you bear with me?" moments
where you just have a little bit of a chuckle, go back on the phone,
and take it from the beginning again.
"I presume you have an alleyway and somebody's left some rubbish."
Yes, is the answer and we'll deal with it.
That was weird!
We had one person in particular and he asked if he needed a licence
to own a crocodile and I just thought,
"Where have you got a crocodile from?!"
Let me just check the system, one moment, thank you.
I thought the only people who would actually have a licence probably would be the zoo.
That's where you'd want to keep one. I wouldn't like to think
someone's got one in their back garden!
Right, thank you, bye.
Back on the road, a resident has alerted pest control officer Brian
to something a little less exotic.
Brian's worried because rats - attracted by waste and food stores -
could be present in the kitchens of nearby restaurants
and might be spreading diseases like listeria and salmonella.
Definitely been at that, haven't they? It's all chewed.
With a little help from a neighbour,
he catches a fleeting glimpse of his prey.
Oh! HE MUTTERS
Catch it, did you see it? No?
'They can be crafty, they can be canny...'
and it's...disappointing that you can't find it,
really is, it gets me...
It sticks in me throat a little bit, cos...
I just like getting a good result. HE CHUCKLES
Having seen rats in such close proximity
to a number of food outlets,
Brian's called in Environmental Health Officer
Bev Hursthouse for support.
The problem in my line of work,
people just not really looking after their surroundings,
not putting rubbish away properly,
because obviously if a rat or rats have got in to a food business,
then we've got a problem. There is a risk to health there.
-I'll show you the back area first, yeah?
Bev and Brian have been working together for seven years.
He's good at his job. There's not anything he couldn't tell you
about rats, mice, cockroaches.
Take your time, don't rush like a bull.
You've got to play with them.
He takes his job very, very serious, which is good,
but there's the comedy factor that comes with him.
-Do we know what day collection day is for this?
-Not a clue.
Brian and Bev's detective work leads them
into the back yard of a restaurant.
From Environmental Health!
-Oh, I just seen one there.
Just seen one there?
There was a rat just running behind that blue bin there.
Can't see it.
Eagle-eyed Bev spots a rat, but Brian's found the shed
that the restaurant's been using to store its raw ingredients in.
I can see rat droppings in here.
The restaurant's recently changed its name,
and undergone some interior refurbishment.
But manager Farouk doesn't seem to have paid attention to areas
his customers don't see and it could mean his business
is closed down before it's even had a chance to get going again.
-This passage is very bad.
-Yeah, it is, you're absolutely right.
But just have a quick look in this yard.
What do you think that I'm going to tell you about?
No, we actually did some refurbishment,
so we're going to look for somebody, we're going to phone them
and they're going to come tomorrow and clean all this up.
The promised clean-up might be imminent, but the rats have already
contaminated food that could have been served to paying customers.
Here we go. Here's their food source.
-That's a rat.
-All of what's in there has to be discarded.
-It cannot be used, in there.
That's rat bite. That's rat.
That and that are what the rats have done.
-So, before I go now, can we get this food put in that bin?
Let's get the chefs out, then.
So, everything, if we can take it out of that netting
and pop it into the brown bin.
Destroying this contaminated food will hit Farouk hard in the pocket.
But he's got even bigger problems because the future of his restaurant
and its staff's livelihood is also now in jeopardy.
What you've done, you've focused... You've painted the walls
and you've made it nice for the areas where the customers can see.
OK? My concern, and what your concern should be,
at this moment in time is what the customers can't see.
What's happening is, your back yard,
you're leaving it there as a food source for them.
So, at this present moment, you are causing the problem,
not these across the road who are complaining.
-Give us a week.
-I can't give you a week. OK?
Because I've just physically seen the rat in the yard myself
with your kitchen door wide open.
First off, we need to keep that door closed.
I'm going to go in there and I'm going to check to see
if there's any rodent activity in your kitchen.
If there is, you will not be opening tonight, it's that simple. Yes?
'Closure is the final option.'
It's an absolute last resort.
We kind of want to put everything else...
or try and put everything else right before that option, really.
To avoid being shut down,
manager Farouk needs to convince Brian and Bev
that the rats haven't made it into his kitchen.
The problem we have, that hole I've seen the rat quite close to
is directly into your kitchen.
-So, we've got a bit of a problem, really.
-See how black it is, how smooth it is?
Rats are coming in and out constantly.
The hole needs to be blocked immediately.
Have you got any more of these?
Brian uses wire wool to do the job.
It's a good temporary fix,
as rats can't chew through it.
They've been very lucky, there's no droppings in here.
Brian and Bev might not have found any hard evidence
of contamination in the kitchen,
but rat activity outside is undeniable.
As a result, Farouk is forced to close his restaurant
for 48 hours and try to make it safe.
By Friday, what we need to do is make sure that this area is cleared.
The holes need to be filled in,
then I'll come back on Friday and look at the work that you've done.
They've focused so much attention on getting the paintwork the right colour,
and the tablecloths looking nice,
but they're missing the important bits,
which is the bit that could kill somebody or make somebody poorly.
If the restaurant fails to clean up its act, Bev could close it
until she decides there's no longer a risk to public health.
Our council taxes help fund the work of
officers like Bev and Brian.
And because we're footing the bill, everyone has an opinion
on their local council and whether they're getting value for money.
The role of the council now has changed a lot.
Obviously, it's because of cutbacks.
But it's like everything else,
you've got to go with the flow, haven't you?
I mean, they should be concentrating on
talking to people. What do you want us to do with this money?
After all, it's our money.
We pay their wages as well. I think they tend to forget that.
I like the council workers.
But as regards the council, I think they're bloody rubbish!
We have a property over there
where the council stopped a certain person parking his car
by putting bollards there.
Now, they will spend money putting bollards to stop someone parking,
but then when they ask them to move rubbish, they can't do it.
I mean, what's that about?
Everybody, I think, will have a moan.
It's easier to have a moan and to look at the negatives of things,
rather than looking at the positives.
And it's not just Tameside Council.
I think everyone has issues all over the country.
In 2012, UK councils received
150,000 calls and issued
9,000 abatement notices
relating to one issue alone - noise.
Noisy neighbours are a problem for ten million of us,
and when things get too much, we call the council.
When neighbours get to have a dislike for one other,
sometimes, that can roll on for years and years.
There's no resolving it until one of them moves.
In Tameside, the Ross family
has been complaining to the council
about the noise coming from one of their neighbours
for more than ten years.
Gary Ross, his wife Karen and 23-year-old daughter Natalie
have lived in the same house for nearly a quarter of a century.
They say all was fine until their neighbours moved in 14 years ago.
14 years in December, it's been going on.
And he told me, when he first moved in, "It is my life, my lifestyle,
-"and you just have to put up with it."
-We don't know where to turn.
-We don't know where to turn.
You know, people can say, you're mithering, it's over nothing,
but it's not. It is really affecting us.
It's that bad you just want to knock on their door basically and say,
"For crying out loud, let us have a bit of peace and quiet."
But the Rosses haven't spoken to their neighbours.
Instead, they've called Council Officer Phil Rodgers.
I have to deal with people who commit noise nuisance,
or allegedly commit noise nuisance. It's mostly a lot of stuff
under Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act
which is nuisance prejudicial to health issues.
It's Natalie Ross who appears most affected by the alleged noise
from next door.
She's complaining of headaches and lack of sleep.
It's just every single day and there's just no off to it.
You just can't have a life or a weekend or anything.
It's just horrendous.
The Rosses need a hero, so today Phil's on his way to investigate.
As a local authority, we're bound to respond to any complaints
that Mr Ross makes to us in order to investigate them thoroughly
to ensure that there isn't a statutory nuisance.
Despite these reasonably thorough investigations,
we've never been able to gain sufficient evidence...
in order to take any enforcement action against his neighbour.
The Rosses' neighbours dispute every claim made against them and
Phil, along with his colleague Pete Grimes, can only take action if
they witness and record noise levels
that could legally be labelled a nuisance.
They base this judgment on years of experience.
Some people have some real issues once they get it into their head
that a noise is occurring.
Hiya. Is it Natalie?
Is it all right if we come in, yeah?
But we're talking about the legal aspect of enforcement.
And it's important, if I have to stand up in court and accuse
somebody of doing something, I have to be able to a) prove that
beyond all reasonable doubt and I have to show that I've followed
the right processes and protocols.
The problem is, erm, there's an extractor fan which is attached
to a hole where a boiler was fitted. And it's just
really, really loud and I just can't sleep. I've got earplugs in.
He'll leave it on and then he'll go downstairs.
If we go to the toilet in the middle of the night,
-I have my bathroom windows open, you can hear it.
How long does it go on for when he switches it on?
It just depends. It just depends. I mean, it's horrendous.
Right, OK, well, we'll put this in. We'll record for a full week.
So if sometimes it's loud and sometimes it's not, it should,
if we get enough recordings it should take into account
any inconsistencies in the amount of noise it creates.
This is a piece of sound recording equipment. Very expensive.
It will record the decibel level and the duration.
If it's loud enough, frequent enough to cause nuisance, then we can act
and do something to stop it. We'll just check it's recording,
so we'll record it at that level.
So we'll have recorded that. We can turn that off now.
-If I leave that, is that gonna be in your way there?
-No, it's fine.
Fine. All right, thank you. All right, thanks a lot.
Obviously we'll have to find out how loud that is and how frequent it is
and how disturbing it is to them.
Before we can start to look at whether we need to intervene or not.
Recording equipment installed,
the Rosses have a week to capture any evidence that will support
their claims about the noise coming from next door.
As well as spending public money responsibly and effectively,
local councils nationwide need to be open,
accountable and ready to respond whenever their residents need them.
Today, 78-year-old great grandmother Anne Hardman has called
the council because some unwelcome wasps have moved into her eaves.
The gardener spotted it last Wednesday.
I think this is the third nest we've had since we came to live here.
The third nest. I'm afraid my husband, had he been here,
would have been at it with the blow-lamp. Very naughty!
Wasp colonies are started by a single female
but can grow to include more than 5,000 individuals.
A wasp in distress releases a pheromone that sends nearby wasps
into a defensive, stinging frenzy.
Pest control officer Brian Whelan and his assistant Geoff Dale
are en route to help this damsel in distress.
I love it, I love the job, because you know you're going to give
a service to someone, you're going to go out and help them.
It's like their cry for help, so you go out and you sort the problem out.
Right, let's go!
Brian attends over 90 wasp-related call-outs every year.
Is it this one?
So he takes this kind of job in his stride.
-Hello, my sweet. Pest control.
-I'm here to do your wasp nest. Whereabouts is it?
-Have I walked past it? Didn't even see it.
Old ladies are nice. I do like helping old ladies.
Ably assisted by Geoff, Brian gets ready to face his latest foes
and make sure he can enjoy the weekend.
It's Friday. I don't want to get stung. Cheers, mate.
Protective clothing on and armed with a powerful anti-wasp powder,
Brian prepares to do battle.
Diddly-dee, diddly-dee, diddly-do...
I've got the powder going into the hole the wasps are going in and out of.
I'll attack it from both sides.
Despite the fear wasps generate for us humans,
because they prey on nearly every pest insect on earth,
they can be very beneficial. But Brian isn't a fan.
I hate wasps, I think they're horrible. They're just evil.
They sting people for no reason whatsoever.
I don't think wasps have got a purpose in life, to be honest.
Brian says wasps sting you. Having said that, I've only been stung
a couple of times in life, two or three times in my life.
But my favourite insects are spiders. They get rid of flies and if I see
them in the house, I just leave them. Yeah.
I think spiders are a good thing.
I mean, I like bumblebees as well. Yeah.
Look at them now, they're all coming in. They're not happy.
When that happens, you know you've got the nest, the area,
because they're all piling back now trying to save the queen.
With the nest dusted, Brian's work is done.
All that's needed now is a signature.
Tell you what, you've got to take long strides here, haven't you?
We'll just nip in and do the paperwork, my love.
I'd like to think people appreciate me.
I like to think that people, after I've done a job,
it's like when you... It's a funny scenario, cos when you do a job,
you always turn round and say, "Thanks very much,
"I'll see you again."
And nine times out of ten you hear in the background,
"I bloody hope not, I hope I won't see you again!"
-I'm delighted with your service.
-Thank you very much.
-Thank you, my love.
-Another happy customer.
Brian leaves the powder to do its job.
It's gone up inside the ridge tiles. Where the nest is.
They'll be flapping the dust round, in theory, doing our job.
Doing our job.
Hopefully that will be gone by Monday. I've left my card
with the lady and told her to give me a bell back if it isn't.
But it should be gone by Monday.
It's a good day today, but not for wasps.
So I can got out to meet my lady friends for a bit of lunch.
That's why I love my job. It works well.
Public service is in the DNA of almost every council officer
and with the tax-paying public firmly in his thoughts,
environmental protection officer Phil Rogers is busy
in the council noise lab.
He's received the recordings taken at the home of the Ross family,
who say they are distressed and disturbed by the noise
coming from their neighbour's extractor fan.
And then we'll pop that into the USB reader.
Phil needs to listen to everything they've recorded over a week
and find out if there is any evidence to support
the family's complaint.
We've said to them, record when it's a nuisance to you,
so we can experience what you're listening to,
what you're having to put up with.
I can hear people walking on the carpet.
-Did she say what she was recording?
-Yeah, the fan.
On every occasion.
So we're supposed to be listening to fan noise right now.
Yeah. I'll turn it up and see if I can hear anything.
Can you hear that faint buzz?
Any noise that could legally be labelled a nuisance
would be easy to hear.
I think I can hear a slight tone, but it's distant. It's not...
in the proximity of that room.
That will be traffic noise, this little spike here.
And you can hear the clock ticking, that's all I can hear. Clock ticking.
Again, it's clock ticking. 30 is the noise created in the bedroom
When people are asleep. And that's quieter than that.
They do shriek a lot, the kids, don't they?
CHILD CONTINUES SHRIEKING
So, we haven't heard anything in relation to a fan.
There's absolutely nothing to record there. Nothing.
With little noise on the recordings, Phil hasn't got sufficient
evidence to tackle the neighbours yet. But, like council officers
across the land, his strong sense of duty to the distressed family
means his investigation will continue.
And away from the office,
this local hero's same sense of duty extends to serving his country.
Being in the reserve army has always been quite a large part of my life.
I commit a lot of my time and effort to training
and I've served with operations a couple of times.
It makes me really proud. I'm a proud, loyal British citizen
and I get a lot from it.
That's an operational service medal for Iraq, that's one for Afghanistan.
And this is the army reserve long service medal.
It's Remembrance Sunday.
An important day for the Armed Services and Phil.
There are core individual requirements for soldiers today.
Selfless commitment and integrity and loyalty.
So I tend to think those are the kind of things that lend me
to being a good enforcement officer
as well as a good soldier, if you will.
SERGEANT ISSUES ORDER
Respects paid, friends and comrades remembered,
it's time for Phil to dismiss his unit.
To your duties, fall out!
Would I be able to do that in the council first thing Monday morning?
I'll give it a try. I don't think I'd get much response, though.
Be interesting, though.
Back at the Council HQ, Staff Sergeant Phil may have
swapped army khakis for council civvies
but he's still working hard for the community he serves.
Having reviewed a week's worth of recordings from the Rosses
and found no evidence of a noisy fan or any other wrongdoing,
he's invited Mr Ross and his daughter Natalie to listen
to them for themselves.
Take a seat, please, Mr Ross, Ms Ross.
The Rosses say they've had problems with their neighbours for 14 years.
For today's meeting about their current complaint,
Phil is joined by his manager, Gary Mongan.
What I intend to do today is, we'll go through all
the recordings you made, and you can pick out the bits
that you think are the bits that are offensive to you,
that are causing you an issue. If we can identify the first one.
We can probably make it a bit louder, see if we can identify something,
-Yeah, you can.
That's really, really loud.
That's... That's the humming. That's not as loud as you actually
are hearing it, because there's a screeching noise with it.
You can hear it from our bathroom.
You're sitting listening to some of the evidence sometimes
that they've recorded and they say when it's really bad,
and we can't hear anything.
The levels that it's picking up are extremely low. Really low.
And you can sort of... You can hear your clock ticking.
Obviously, we can hear some of the noises coming from next door.
The kids shrieking and babies crying and stuff.
We can hear the clock ticking again.
And a child shrieking next door.
We're conscious that we can't hear...
Can you hear the fan? I can't.
-Not at the moment, no.
-It's very disappointing.
Even though it's not audible on there,
there's definitely a humming noise.
You can hear it, especially at night.
-Gives you headaches.
-It does, it gives you headaches.
You know when they're in the bathroom.
Besides the noise coming from them,
you actually know when they put it on.
Right, and that's when they go to the bathroom?
-You think it's attached to the light?
-It is, it's a timer.
Because, what happens is, as soon as they turn the light on,
obviously, it comes on.
When they turn the light off, it goes on for a couple of minutes.
Like, at night-time, I dread going upstairs,
walking into my room, cos I can hear it.
I can just hear it going off.
To be quite honest with you, we dread coming home.
It's not a home, it is a house.
We have an obligation in law to investigate these things,
even though we know a lot of the time that there will be no successful
outcome and that what we are doing, in effect, is a waste of our time.
But we have to do it. It's part and parcel of the job.
The thing that I've got to consider now is what do we do
with regards to this fan. You're saying that it is still an issue.
It is an issue. It's definitely an issue.
But we can't ascertain through our recordings that there's a nuisance.
I'll discuss it with Gary and we'll discuss it with anyone we
need to discuss it with and we'll come to some form of way forward.
-If there's something more we can do,
-then we'll do what we can.
-Is that fair enough? And I'll be in touch.
-Yeah, that's fine.
Having given the Rosses another chance to state their case,
Phil and Gary must find a way to juggle the council's limited
resources and bring the matter to a speedy close.
While Phil's dealing with an issue affecting just one family,
Bev's been working with a restaurant whose poor hygiene could
affect hundreds of people.
-How are you? All right?
-How are you doing?
Local residents called the council to the
alleyway behind the Indian restaurant.
Bev spotted a rat in its messy yard.
Oh, just seen one there.
Brian found rat faeces in its storeroom.
I can see rat droppings in here.
And what looked like rat runs in its kitchen.
The restaurant has had 48 hours to clean up its act
and, today, Bev's back.
If her instructions haven't been carried out,
she'll shut the restaurant down.
More or less all the holes have been blocked.
That's been blocked, that's... More or less everything.
In the floor, there was other holes.
This is absolutely much, much better.
There may have been an improvement outside,
but Bev needs to see if the problems inside have also been tackled.
-Is there any open food in there at the moment? Is it all away?
All away? That's great, that's fine.
Hi, are you all right?
Good evening, chefs.
OK, so the hole...
That's all been blocked.
-It's solid concreted.
-Much better, yes.
The rat runs have been sealed.
But ever-vigilant Bev spots another potential problem.
What are we doing with this chicken? Is this going back in the fridge?
-Go on, then.
Pop that in the fridge for me.
Chicken aside, it's clear that the owners
have worked hard to clean up their act.
To be fair, most businesses that we kind of work with are keen to
put things right once they've realised there's an error.
You know, and sometimes it may mean more than one visit,
sometimes it might mean a letter,
sometimes it might mean that we need to serve an improvement notice.
But sometimes, you know, we pretty much get things
'where we need them to be.'
I am well impressed.
With the work that you've done so far, I can already see
a massive improvement in the cleaning in there.
There's a bit more to go, OK.
We're not going to say that we're there yet.
But, a huge improvement.
Satisfied that customers will be safe...
Well done for the work out there guys. It is much, much better.
..Bev allows the restaurant to reopen.
Across the country,
there are thousands of local council officers going the extra mile
on our behalf and, tonight,
as night falls on Tameside, Phil Rodgers is working late.
After 14 years and more than 20 complaints,
he's trying to resolve the Rosses' latest issue once and for all.
When we've got a trouble capturing the evidence on tape,
which, in this case, we have, then we like to go and visit in person
and experience the noise that they are listening to.
The Rosses' neighbours dispute every claim that's been made against
them, but tonight, Phil is paying the Ross family another visit.
In order to determine whether any noise from next door can be
legally labelled a nuisance, Phil needs to hear it for himself.
It's just this fan we're trying to resolve, isn't it?
And has there been any change in the tone of it, the use of it,
the frequency of it?
-No, it's still the same, ain't it?
Ten minutes in, and the fan is yet to be heard.
That's on. That's just started.
You see, I'm not hearing that.
In the silence, I can hear the clocks ticking.
See, unless it gets louder than that, that is never,
ever going to be a stat nuisance.
It's just not loud enough.
-That kind of amplitude, that level.
-No, yeah, yeah.
That is never going to be a statutory noise nuisance,
as far as we're concerned.
And despite the fact that we will tell and tell and tell people -
we tell them in writing over and over and over again -
they still complain to us about the same things.
The difficulty I've got now is, that I've tried to get it recorded,
and I've tried to come and witness it
-and I can't get it to the degree that you say it's upsetting you at.
If they were banging on the wall with a saucepan every night,
particularly to annoy you, then that's something I can do about.
If they had the music on full blast all the time,
I can do something about.
But, if I can't get evidence that that's batting out,
then I'm never going to be able to do anything.
I can't witness it, and we think, don't we, that the
likelihood is that it will never be loud enough, even maybe
when it's even screeching, and it seems really bad to you.
That it might not be of a level loud enough for me to take any action.
It is not the result any of the family was hoping for.
That's it, the book's closed.
Council won't help us, nobody will help us.
It's just a living nightmare. We can't sell the house.
I just don't know what we're going to do.
I understand your disappointment.
But if there was something I could do, I would do.
We know that, we know that.
Thank you for coming, but, you know...
'We've pretty much tied it up. There's nothing we can do.
'And even at its loudest, allegedly, when I'm not here,'
it's never going to be loud enough
for the council to be able to enforce anything.
We'll probably draw a line under the whole investigation
at this particular point in time.
And I will write and confirm that with Mr Ross tomorrow.
With no evidence of any noise nuisance this time,
the Rosses' case is closed.
There's never, ever going to be a successful resolution to it,
unless one of them moves.
Britain's council officers
are dedicated to protecting us from unseen danger.
By law, all food outlets in the country have to be
inspected by the local authority
and given a hygiene rating from zero, the lowest, to five, the best.
Tonight, Bev Hursthouse is back at the Indian restaurant that
recently shut down after rats were discovered in its yard.
The food hygiene rating score that this business currently
carries is a three, which is classed as satisfactory.
The business owners are quite keen to sort of improve that
and hopefully get a four or a five.
But ratings can go down, as well as up.
Hello, are you all right?
Having removed the rats, cleaned up and reopened,
manager Farouk needs to prove that his restaurant
and its staff have made big changes to the way they operate.
How's it going?
Wow, you've done some work in here now, haven't you?
-Yeah, good, good.
But Bev's not here to see cosmetic changes.
What I'm going to do today, I'm going to have a look around.
I'm just going to go in there, and check some temperatures,
have a look at your fridges and your freezers.
She needs to check that the restaurant's paperwork
is in order and carry out a thorough inspection of its kitchens.
Is this table kind of a permanent fixture here?
It could just be seen as a little bit of an obstruction.
-Is this just your plate warmer?
Are you still using this to keep takeaways warm?
Does that still go in there to keep warm as well?
So when is all your raw meat prepped then?
-Is that all kind of done at one time?
-Yeah, it is all...
When it comes, we do it straightaway.
What I've noticed is you're
carrying quite minimum stock now, aren't you?
-There's not a lot of... Yeah, so you are shopping more frequently.
-Day by day.
Cos you haven't got the space to accommodate that really, have you?
That's fine. But what we need to sort of get reassurance from you
is that we're not sort of cleaning to make it that when we come...
No, no, we'll try to keep it like that anyway.
Not try. Not try.
-It has to be.
-It has to be.
Examination over, Farouk faces an anxious wait to see
if his restaurant gets the rating he so desperately wants.
It's hard, hard work, but slowly we just finish it now.
It is good now. We need at least five.
Based on today, and what I've seen today
and the chat that we've had and the work you've done
and the money that you've spent
and obviously you've put in all this new equipment
and cleaning procedures...
Your rating currently, at the moment,
was a three, wasn't it?
Which I know you were disappointed with.
OK, I'm rating it today as a five. OK?
You've worked really, really hard to get that.
At least we try to make you happy. That's important.
-And we will try and keep it clean.
You keep on using that word "try".
-Let's have the word "try" out. You do need to do it.
There's no ifs or buts,
we do need to keep it safe. Yeah?
-So a five. Are you happy with that?
-You can't go above that.
You can't go above five.
-No, five is OK.
-Thank you, bye-bye.
The restaurant has come a long way.
Thanks to Bev, the rats are gone, the kitchens are clean
and the customers are safe.
They've cleaned up their act.
I'm confident now that they kind of keep it like that.
You know, the issue with the yard is sorted,
kitchens have introduced new equipment in there.
The cleaning, they've got cleaning materials available,
which wasn't available last time.
I'm sort of... I can go home and sleep at night,
knowing that there's no rats coming into this restaurant.
So, yeah, I'm happy.
It's a successful conclusion for the restaurant, the council
and, most importantly, Tameside's residents.
It's been another productive day for the country's local council heroes.
-I'm delighted with your service.
-Thank you very much.
They've helped a great-grandmother rid her roof of wasps.
It's a good day today, but not for wasps.
They've listened to their residents...
-It's just really, really loud and we just can't sleep.
We'll put this in. We'll record for a full week.
..and cleared rats from restaurant back-yards.
From Environmental Health!
-Oh, just seen one there.
-Just seen one there?
But, most importantly, they've worked tirelessly to
help their residents when they called the council.
I can't say how many lives I've saved.
You know, I'm not a superhero, I wouldn't imagine.
But, if I've done enough to say, "That didn't happen
"because of work that we're doing", then that's enough for me.
Local council enforcement officers respond when a family calls to complain about noisy neighbours. Meanwhile pest control officers help an elderly resident when a colony of angry wasps moves in and act fast when rats are reported running free near takeaways and restaurants.