Episode 8 Call the Council


Episode 8

Series following council officers. Local council enforcement officers respond when a family calls to complain about noisy neighbours.


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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

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working 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're protecting us from hidden dangers...

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The business owner's got a duty to make sure

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that he is protecting his business

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

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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 -

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the Rosses call the council to complain about noisy neighbours...

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It's just every single day. There's just, like, no off to it.

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-Whereabouts is it?

-There.

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An elderly resident needs help when a colony of angry wasps move in...

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It's a good day today, but not for wasps.

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..and officers need to act fast after locals report

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disease-carrying rats running free near restaurants and takeaways.

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If there's rodent activity in your kitchen,

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you won't be opening tonight. It's that simple.

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The UK's 433 local councils employ nearly two million people.

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Be it trading standards or social services,

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highways or waste management, these local heroes are busy making sure

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their residents are safe and their taxes put to the best possible use.

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Good morning. Tameside Council.

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You seem to have a problem with rats?

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Yeah, I can put you through to the pest control department, thank you.

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When someone calls for help in Tameside,

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four miles due east of Manchester's city centre,

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the council's got someone to do even the dirtiest of jobs.

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It could be rats, mice, could be cockroaches. You name it, we do it.

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Today, Pest Control Officer Brian Whelan's responding to a call

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from a concerned resident who's spotted a rat.

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-See yous later.

-See you later, Brian.

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Rats spread disease and spoil food.

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Estimates suggest there are over ten million of them in the UK,

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and as their numbers grow, so does the cost to the taxpayer

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as council officers like Brian try to eliminate them.

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We're going to a place now -

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a lady reported rats around her back area,

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so I'm going to have a look.

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But Brian and his colleagues face an uphill battle.

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Warmer weather means rats are surviving longer.

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This, together with a rise in litter, waste,

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and even bird-feeding,

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means that their sources of food are plentiful and as a result,

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the rat population is thriving.

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What are you getting now, Brian?

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I'm just going to get something to prod around these bushes

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at the back and that, and see whether we can see anything.

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Something like a rake, just have a look.

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The resident who called Brian spotted rats in an alleyway

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that runs behind a row of restaurants and takeaways.

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Hopefully, we've got access through this gate.

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Rats and restaurants don't mix.

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There you go.

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If rats are nearby, there's a serious public health risk.

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Brian needs to find them and their food source fast.

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(If you look down there... there's a rat's tail there.)

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METAL CLANGS

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Oh, great, me bins have gone in!

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I'm trying to get me bins back, pardon the pun.

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Otherwise I won't see a bloody thing.

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Oh, I don't believe that...

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This rat's had a lucky escape.

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Brian's lost his prey, and his glasses.

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So, as you can see, there was one definitely in there.

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Unfortunately...I've missed it.

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I don't think it's playing ball, to be honest.

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From his regular run-ins with the rat fraternity,

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Brian's formed some strong opinions on their way of life.

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They don't have any morals.

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The mum will mate with the son.

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The son will mate with the sister, the dad will mate with the daughter.

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They are not like the human race, you know what I mean?

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We have morals, so...

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I'm just a bit peeved...that this one's not come out of here.

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But Brian shouldn't be too disheartened

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because rats can have as many as six litters

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of up to ten babies a year.

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So, if there's one rat here, there's bound to be more nearby.

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If you look there you can see - if you look closely -

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that that's a rat run. See how smooth the soil is?

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There's no way the soil would be that smooth with this over it.

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That's a decayed one, that's been dead for a long, long time.

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And that was laid that way.

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So, they're running in and out,

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they're going in the backs of these places and they've got a food source.

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If rats have accessed one of the nearby restaurants,

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the public are at serious risk from diseases like Weil's, listeria,

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and even salmonella.

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Coming up - Brian brings in reinforcements

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as more rats are spotted in a restaurant's back yard.

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-Oh, just seen one there.

-Seen one there?

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There was a rat, just running behind that blue bin there.

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Local heroes like Brian

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are on the front line in the fight to keep the borough safe

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and most of Brian and his colleagues' jobs start

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when people call the council.

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Good morning, Customer Services, can I help you?

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The council's call centre handles nearly 180,000 calls every year.

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Welcome to Tameside Council. Karen speaking. How can I help?

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Staff here try to help everyone,

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but some issues are easier to solve than others.

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You get all sorts of enquiries.

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The questions that you get asked are just... Oh, they're just bizarre.

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I've had a gentleman who asked me

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if I could help him get rubbish out of his back passage.

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Yes, we deal with that here.

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It was one of those "Can you bear with me?" moments

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where you just have a little bit of a chuckle, go back on the phone,

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and take it from the beginning again.

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"I presume you have an alleyway and somebody's left some rubbish."

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Yes, is the answer and we'll deal with it.

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That was weird!

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We had one person in particular and he asked if he needed a licence

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to own a crocodile and I just thought,

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"Where have you got a crocodile from?!"

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Let me just check the system, one moment, thank you.

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I thought the only people who would actually have a licence probably would be the zoo.

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That's where you'd want to keep one. I wouldn't like to think

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someone's got one in their back garden!

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Right, thank you, bye.

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Back on the road, a resident has alerted pest control officer Brian

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to something a little less exotic.

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Brian's worried because rats - attracted by waste and food stores -

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could be present in the kitchens of nearby restaurants

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and might be spreading diseases like listeria and salmonella.

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Definitely been at that, haven't they? It's all chewed.

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With a little help from a neighbour,

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he catches a fleeting glimpse of his prey.

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Oh! HE MUTTERS

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Catch it, did you see it? No?

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'They can be crafty, they can be canny...'

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and it's...disappointing that you can't find it,

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really is, it gets me...

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It sticks in me throat a little bit, cos...

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I just like getting a good result. HE CHUCKLES

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Having seen rats in such close proximity

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to a number of food outlets,

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Brian's called in Environmental Health Officer

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Bev Hursthouse for support.

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The problem in my line of work,

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people just not really looking after their surroundings,

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not putting rubbish away properly,

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because obviously if a rat or rats have got in to a food business,

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then we've got a problem. There is a risk to health there.

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-Hi, Brian.

-I'll show you the back area first, yeah?

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Bev and Brian have been working together for seven years.

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He's good at his job. There's not anything he couldn't tell you

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about rats, mice, cockroaches.

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Take your time, don't rush like a bull.

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You've got to play with them.

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He takes his job very, very serious, which is good,

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but there's the comedy factor that comes with him.

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-Do we know what day collection day is for this?

-Not a clue.

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Little blighters.

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Brian and Bev's detective work leads them

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into the back yard of a restaurant.

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From Environmental Health!

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-BEV KNOCKS

-Oh, I just seen one there.

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Just seen one there?

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There was a rat just running behind that blue bin there.

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Can't see it.

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Eagle-eyed Bev spots a rat, but Brian's found the shed

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that the restaurant's been using to store its raw ingredients in.

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I can see rat droppings in here.

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Oh.

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The restaurant's recently changed its name,

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and undergone some interior refurbishment.

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But manager Farouk doesn't seem to have paid attention to areas

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his customers don't see and it could mean his business

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is closed down before it's even had a chance to get going again.

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-This passage is very bad.

-Yeah, it is, you're absolutely right.

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But just have a quick look in this yard.

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What do you think that I'm going to tell you about?

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No, we actually did some refurbishment,

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so we're going to look for somebody, we're going to phone them

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and they're going to come tomorrow and clean all this up.

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The promised clean-up might be imminent, but the rats have already

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contaminated food that could have been served to paying customers.

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Here we go. Here's their food source.

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-That's a rat.

-All of what's in there has to be discarded.

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-It cannot be used, in there.

-Right.

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That's rat bite. That's rat.

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That and that are what the rats have done.

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-So, before I go now, can we get this food put in that bin?

-Yeah, yeah.

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Let's get the chefs out, then.

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So, everything, if we can take it out of that netting

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and pop it into the brown bin.

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Coleslaw!

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Destroying this contaminated food will hit Farouk hard in the pocket.

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But he's got even bigger problems because the future of his restaurant

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and its staff's livelihood is also now in jeopardy.

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What you've done, you've focused... You've painted the walls

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and you've made it nice for the areas where the customers can see.

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OK? My concern, and what your concern should be,

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at this moment in time is what the customers can't see.

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What's happening is, your back yard,

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you're leaving it there as a food source for them.

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So, at this present moment, you are causing the problem,

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not these across the road who are complaining.

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-Give us a week.

-I can't give you a week. OK?

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Because I've just physically seen the rat in the yard myself

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with your kitchen door wide open.

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First off, we need to keep that door closed.

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I'm going to go in there and I'm going to check to see

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if there's any rodent activity in your kitchen.

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If there is, you will not be opening tonight, it's that simple. Yes?

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'Closure is the final option.'

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It's an absolute last resort.

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We kind of want to put everything else...

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or try and put everything else right before that option, really.

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To avoid being shut down,

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manager Farouk needs to convince Brian and Bev

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that the rats haven't made it into his kitchen.

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The problem we have, that hole I've seen the rat quite close to

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is directly into your kitchen.

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-So, we've got a bit of a problem, really.

-Mmm.

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-See how black it is, how smooth it is?

-Yeah.

-Yeah?

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Rats are coming in and out constantly.

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The hole needs to be blocked immediately.

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Have you got any more of these?

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Brian uses wire wool to do the job.

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It's a good temporary fix,

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as rats can't chew through it.

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They've been very lucky, there's no droppings in here.

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Brian and Bev might not have found any hard evidence

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of contamination in the kitchen,

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but rat activity outside is undeniable.

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As a result, Farouk is forced to close his restaurant

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for 48 hours and try to make it safe.

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By Friday, what we need to do is make sure that this area is cleared.

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The holes need to be filled in,

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then I'll come back on Friday and look at the work that you've done.

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They've focused so much attention on getting the paintwork the right colour,

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and the tablecloths looking nice,

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but they're missing the important bits,

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which is the bit that could kill somebody or make somebody poorly.

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If the restaurant fails to clean up its act, Bev could close it

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until she decides there's no longer a risk to public health.

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Our council taxes help fund the work of

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officers like Bev and Brian.

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And because we're footing the bill, everyone has an opinion

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on their local council and whether they're getting value for money.

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The role of the council now has changed a lot.

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Obviously, it's because of cutbacks.

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But it's like everything else,

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you've got to go with the flow, haven't you?

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I mean, they should be concentrating on

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talking to people. What do you want us to do with this money?

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After all, it's our money.

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We pay their wages as well. I think they tend to forget that.

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I like the council workers.

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But as regards the council, I think they're bloody rubbish!

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We have a property over there

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where the council stopped a certain person parking his car

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by putting bollards there.

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Now, they will spend money putting bollards to stop someone parking,

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but then when they ask them to move rubbish, they can't do it.

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I mean, what's that about?

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Everybody, I think, will have a moan.

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It's easier to have a moan and to look at the negatives of things,

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rather than looking at the positives.

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And it's not just Tameside Council.

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I think everyone has issues all over the country.

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In 2012, UK councils received

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150,000 calls and issued

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9,000 abatement notices

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relating to one issue alone - noise.

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Noisy neighbours are a problem for ten million of us,

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and when things get too much, we call the council.

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When neighbours get to have a dislike for one other,

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sometimes, that can roll on for years and years.

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There's no resolving it until one of them moves.

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In Tameside, the Ross family

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has been complaining to the council

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about the noise coming from one of their neighbours

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for more than ten years.

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Gary Ross, his wife Karen and 23-year-old daughter Natalie

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have lived in the same house for nearly a quarter of a century.

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They say all was fine until their neighbours moved in 14 years ago.

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14 years in December, it's been going on.

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And he told me, when he first moved in, "It is my life, my lifestyle,

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-"and you just have to put up with it."

-Yeah.

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-We don't know where to turn.

-We don't know where to turn.

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You know, people can say, you're mithering, it's over nothing,

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but it's not. It is really affecting us.

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It's that bad you just want to knock on their door basically and say,

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"For crying out loud, let us have a bit of peace and quiet."

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But the Rosses haven't spoken to their neighbours.

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Instead, they've called Council Officer Phil Rodgers.

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I have to deal with people who commit noise nuisance,

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or allegedly commit noise nuisance. It's mostly a lot of stuff

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under Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act

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which is nuisance prejudicial to health issues.

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It's Natalie Ross who appears most affected by the alleged noise

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from next door.

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She's complaining of headaches and lack of sleep.

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It's just every single day and there's just no off to it.

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You just can't have a life or a weekend or anything.

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It's just horrendous.

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The Rosses need a hero, so today Phil's on his way to investigate.

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As a local authority, we're bound to respond to any complaints

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that Mr Ross makes to us in order to investigate them thoroughly

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to ensure that there isn't a statutory nuisance.

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Despite these reasonably thorough investigations,

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we've never been able to gain sufficient evidence...

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in order to take any enforcement action against his neighbour.

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The Rosses' neighbours dispute every claim made against them and

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Phil, along with his colleague Pete Grimes, can only take action if

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they witness and record noise levels

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that could legally be labelled a nuisance.

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They base this judgment on years of experience.

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Some people have some real issues once they get it into their head

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that a noise is occurring.

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Hiya. Is it Natalie?

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Is it all right if we come in, yeah?

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But we're talking about the legal aspect of enforcement.

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And it's important, if I have to stand up in court and accuse

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somebody of doing something, I have to be able to a) prove that

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beyond all reasonable doubt and I have to show that I've followed

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the right processes and protocols.

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The problem is, erm, there's an extractor fan which is attached

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to a hole where a boiler was fitted. And it's just

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really, really loud and I just can't sleep. I've got earplugs in.

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He'll leave it on and then he'll go downstairs.

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If we go to the toilet in the middle of the night,

0:18:240:18:26

-I have my bathroom windows open, you can hear it.

-IMITATES DRONE

0:18:260:18:28

How long does it go on for when he switches it on?

0:18:280:18:31

It just depends. It just depends. I mean, it's horrendous.

0:18:310:18:34

Right, OK, well, we'll put this in. We'll record for a full week.

0:18:340:18:38

So if sometimes it's loud and sometimes it's not, it should,

0:18:380:18:41

if we get enough recordings it should take into account

0:18:410:18:44

any inconsistencies in the amount of noise it creates.

0:18:440:18:47

This is a piece of sound recording equipment. Very expensive.

0:18:470:18:51

It will record the decibel level and the duration.

0:18:510:18:55

If it's loud enough, frequent enough to cause nuisance, then we can act

0:18:550:19:00

and do something to stop it. We'll just check it's recording,

0:19:000:19:03

so we'll record it at that level.

0:19:030:19:05

So we'll have recorded that. We can turn that off now.

0:19:070:19:12

-If I leave that, is that gonna be in your way there?

-No, it's fine.

0:19:120:19:16

Fine. All right, thank you. All right, thanks a lot.

0:19:180:19:21

Obviously we'll have to find out how loud that is and how frequent it is

0:19:220:19:26

and how disturbing it is to them.

0:19:260:19:28

Before we can start to look at whether we need to intervene or not.

0:19:280:19:32

Recording equipment installed,

0:19:320:19:34

the Rosses have a week to capture any evidence that will support

0:19:340:19:37

their claims about the noise coming from next door.

0:19:370:19:40

As well as spending public money responsibly and effectively,

0:19:490:19:53

local councils nationwide need to be open,

0:19:530:19:56

accountable and ready to respond whenever their residents need them.

0:19:560:20:00

Today, 78-year-old great grandmother Anne Hardman has called

0:20:000:20:04

the council because some unwelcome wasps have moved into her eaves.

0:20:040:20:09

The gardener spotted it last Wednesday.

0:20:090:20:12

I think this is the third nest we've had since we came to live here.

0:20:120:20:16

The third nest. I'm afraid my husband, had he been here,

0:20:160:20:19

would have been at it with the blow-lamp. Very naughty!

0:20:190:20:22

Wasp colonies are started by a single female

0:20:240:20:27

but can grow to include more than 5,000 individuals.

0:20:270:20:31

A wasp in distress releases a pheromone that sends nearby wasps

0:20:310:20:35

into a defensive, stinging frenzy.

0:20:350:20:38

Pest control officer Brian Whelan and his assistant Geoff Dale

0:20:380:20:42

are en route to help this damsel in distress.

0:20:420:20:46

I love it, I love the job, because you know you're going to give

0:20:460:20:49

a service to someone, you're going to go out and help them.

0:20:490:20:52

It's like their cry for help, so you go out and you sort the problem out.

0:20:520:20:56

Right, let's go!

0:20:560:20:57

Brian attends over 90 wasp-related call-outs every year.

0:20:590:21:02

Is it this one?

0:21:040:21:06

So he takes this kind of job in his stride.

0:21:060:21:09

-Yes!

-Hello, my sweet. Pest control.

0:21:160:21:18

-I know.

-I'm here to do your wasp nest. Whereabouts is it?

0:21:180:21:21

-There.

-Have I walked past it? Didn't even see it.

0:21:210:21:24

Old ladies are nice. I do like helping old ladies.

0:21:240:21:28

Ably assisted by Geoff, Brian gets ready to face his latest foes

0:21:280:21:32

and make sure he can enjoy the weekend.

0:21:320:21:35

It's Friday. I don't want to get stung. Cheers, mate.

0:21:350:21:38

Superb.

0:21:400:21:42

Protective clothing on and armed with a powerful anti-wasp powder,

0:21:420:21:46

Brian prepares to do battle.

0:21:460:21:48

Diddly-dee, diddly-dee, diddly-do...

0:21:480:21:51

I've got the powder going into the hole the wasps are going in and out of.

0:21:540:21:59

I'll attack it from both sides.

0:21:590:22:01

Despite the fear wasps generate for us humans,

0:22:020:22:05

because they prey on nearly every pest insect on earth,

0:22:050:22:08

they can be very beneficial. But Brian isn't a fan.

0:22:080:22:11

I hate wasps, I think they're horrible. They're just evil.

0:22:130:22:16

They sting people for no reason whatsoever.

0:22:160:22:19

I don't think wasps have got a purpose in life, to be honest.

0:22:190:22:22

Brian says wasps sting you. Having said that, I've only been stung

0:22:240:22:29

a couple of times in life, two or three times in my life.

0:22:290:22:32

But my favourite insects are spiders. They get rid of flies and if I see

0:22:320:22:38

them in the house, I just leave them. Yeah.

0:22:380:22:40

I think spiders are a good thing.

0:22:400:22:42

I mean, I like bumblebees as well. Yeah.

0:22:420:22:45

Look at them now, they're all coming in. They're not happy.

0:22:480:22:51

When that happens, you know you've got the nest, the area,

0:22:530:22:56

because they're all piling back now trying to save the queen.

0:22:560:23:00

With the nest dusted, Brian's work is done.

0:23:010:23:04

All that's needed now is a signature.

0:23:040:23:06

Tell you what, you've got to take long strides here, haven't you?

0:23:060:23:10

We'll just nip in and do the paperwork, my love.

0:23:130:23:15

I'd like to think people appreciate me.

0:23:150:23:17

I like to think that people, after I've done a job,

0:23:170:23:20

it's like when you... It's a funny scenario, cos when you do a job,

0:23:200:23:23

you always turn round and say, "Thanks very much,

0:23:230:23:26

"I'll see you again."

0:23:260:23:27

And nine times out of ten you hear in the background,

0:23:270:23:29

"I bloody hope not, I hope I won't see you again!"

0:23:290:23:32

-I'm delighted with your service.

-Thank you very much.

0:23:320:23:35

-Thank you, my love.

-Another happy customer.

0:23:360:23:39

Brian leaves the powder to do its job.

0:23:390:23:42

It's gone up inside the ridge tiles. Where the nest is.

0:23:420:23:47

They'll be flapping the dust round, in theory, doing our job.

0:23:470:23:50

Doing our job.

0:23:500:23:51

Hopefully that will be gone by Monday. I've left my card

0:23:530:23:56

with the lady and told her to give me a bell back if it isn't.

0:23:560:23:59

But it should be gone by Monday.

0:23:590:24:01

It's a good day today, but not for wasps.

0:24:010:24:04

So I can got out to meet my lady friends for a bit of lunch.

0:24:040:24:08

Mmm-hmm.

0:24:080:24:10

That's why I love my job. It works well.

0:24:100:24:13

Public service is in the DNA of almost every council officer

0:24:240:24:28

and with the tax-paying public firmly in his thoughts,

0:24:280:24:31

environmental protection officer Phil Rogers is busy

0:24:310:24:34

in the council noise lab.

0:24:340:24:36

He's received the recordings taken at the home of the Ross family,

0:24:360:24:40

who say they are distressed and disturbed by the noise

0:24:400:24:43

coming from their neighbour's extractor fan.

0:24:430:24:45

And then we'll pop that into the USB reader.

0:24:450:24:48

Phil needs to listen to everything they've recorded over a week

0:24:480:24:51

and find out if there is any evidence to support

0:24:510:24:54

the family's complaint.

0:24:540:24:55

We've said to them, record when it's a nuisance to you,

0:24:550:24:58

so we can experience what you're listening to,

0:24:580:25:00

what you're having to put up with.

0:25:000:25:01

I can hear people walking on the carpet.

0:25:010:25:04

-Did she say what she was recording?

-Yeah, the fan.

0:25:040:25:07

On every occasion.

0:25:070:25:08

So we're supposed to be listening to fan noise right now.

0:25:080:25:11

Yeah. I'll turn it up and see if I can hear anything.

0:25:110:25:15

LOW BUZZING

0:25:150:25:16

Can you hear that faint buzz?

0:25:160:25:18

Any noise that could legally be labelled a nuisance

0:25:210:25:24

would be easy to hear.

0:25:240:25:25

I think I can hear a slight tone, but it's distant. It's not...

0:25:280:25:34

in the proximity of that room.

0:25:340:25:36

That will be traffic noise, this little spike here.

0:25:380:25:42

And you can hear the clock ticking, that's all I can hear. Clock ticking.

0:25:420:25:46

Again, it's clock ticking. 30 is the noise created in the bedroom

0:25:490:25:54

at night.

0:25:540:25:55

When people are asleep. And that's quieter than that.

0:25:550:26:00

CHILD SHRIEKING

0:26:000:26:03

They do shriek a lot, the kids, don't they?

0:26:070:26:09

Taking...

0:26:100:26:12

CHILD CONTINUES SHRIEKING

0:26:120:26:14

So, we haven't heard anything in relation to a fan.

0:26:140:26:17

There's absolutely nothing to record there. Nothing.

0:26:190:26:22

With little noise on the recordings, Phil hasn't got sufficient

0:26:220:26:26

evidence to tackle the neighbours yet. But, like council officers

0:26:260:26:30

across the land, his strong sense of duty to the distressed family

0:26:300:26:33

means his investigation will continue.

0:26:330:26:36

And away from the office,

0:26:360:26:38

this local hero's same sense of duty extends to serving his country.

0:26:380:26:43

Being in the reserve army has always been quite a large part of my life.

0:26:430:26:47

I commit a lot of my time and effort to training

0:26:470:26:51

and I've served with operations a couple of times.

0:26:510:26:54

It makes me really proud. I'm a proud, loyal British citizen

0:26:540:26:57

and I get a lot from it.

0:26:570:26:58

That's an operational service medal for Iraq, that's one for Afghanistan.

0:26:580:27:02

And this is the army reserve long service medal.

0:27:020:27:06

It's Remembrance Sunday.

0:27:100:27:11

An important day for the Armed Services and Phil.

0:27:130:27:16

There are core individual requirements for soldiers today.

0:27:160:27:20

Selfless commitment and integrity and loyalty.

0:27:210:27:24

So I tend to think those are the kind of things that lend me

0:27:240:27:28

to being a good enforcement officer

0:27:280:27:29

as well as a good soldier, if you will.

0:27:290:27:32

CORNET PLAYS

0:27:340:27:38

SERGEANT ISSUES ORDER

0:28:060:28:08

Respects paid, friends and comrades remembered,

0:28:100:28:13

it's time for Phil to dismiss his unit.

0:28:130:28:16

Squad, attention!

0:28:160:28:19

To your duties, fall out!

0:28:190:28:21

Would I be able to do that in the council first thing Monday morning?

0:28:210:28:25

I'll give it a try. I don't think I'd get much response, though.

0:28:250:28:29

Be interesting, though.

0:28:290:28:31

Back at the Council HQ, Staff Sergeant Phil may have

0:28:410:28:44

swapped army khakis for council civvies

0:28:440:28:46

but he's still working hard for the community he serves.

0:28:460:28:50

Having reviewed a week's worth of recordings from the Rosses

0:28:500:28:53

and found no evidence of a noisy fan or any other wrongdoing,

0:28:530:28:57

he's invited Mr Ross and his daughter Natalie to listen

0:28:570:29:01

to them for themselves.

0:29:010:29:02

Take a seat, please, Mr Ross, Ms Ross.

0:29:020:29:04

The Rosses say they've had problems with their neighbours for 14 years.

0:29:040:29:08

For today's meeting about their current complaint,

0:29:080:29:11

Phil is joined by his manager, Gary Mongan.

0:29:110:29:14

What I intend to do today is, we'll go through all

0:29:140:29:18

the recordings you made, and you can pick out the bits

0:29:180:29:21

that you think are the bits that are offensive to you,

0:29:210:29:25

that are causing you an issue. If we can identify the first one.

0:29:250:29:29

SILENCE

0:29:290:29:30

We can probably make it a bit louder, see if we can identify something,

0:29:320:29:36

-anything, that's...

-Yeah, you can.

-STATIC

0:29:360:29:38

That's really, really loud.

0:29:380:29:40

That's... That's the humming. That's not as loud as you actually

0:29:400:29:43

are hearing it, because there's a screeching noise with it.

0:29:430:29:46

You can hear it from our bathroom.

0:29:460:29:48

You're sitting listening to some of the evidence sometimes

0:29:480:29:51

that they've recorded and they say when it's really bad,

0:29:510:29:54

and we can't hear anything.

0:29:540:29:56

The levels that it's picking up are extremely low. Really low.

0:29:560:30:00

And you can sort of... You can hear your clock ticking.

0:30:000:30:03

Obviously, we can hear some of the noises coming from next door.

0:30:050:30:09

The kids shrieking and babies crying and stuff.

0:30:090:30:12

We can hear the clock ticking again.

0:30:120:30:14

CHILD SCREAMS

0:30:140:30:16

And a child shrieking next door.

0:30:160:30:17

We're conscious that we can't hear...

0:30:200:30:24

Can you hear the fan? I can't.

0:30:240:30:26

-Not at the moment, no.

-It's very disappointing.

0:30:260:30:29

Even though it's not audible on there,

0:30:290:30:31

there's definitely a humming noise.

0:30:310:30:33

You can hear it, especially at night.

0:30:330:30:36

-Gives you headaches.

-It does, it gives you headaches.

0:30:360:30:38

You know when they're in the bathroom.

0:30:380:30:40

Besides the noise coming from them,

0:30:400:30:42

you actually know when they put it on.

0:30:420:30:44

Right, and that's when they go to the bathroom?

0:30:440:30:46

-You think it's attached to the light?

-It is, it's a timer.

0:30:460:30:49

Because, what happens is, as soon as they turn the light on,

0:30:490:30:51

obviously, it comes on.

0:30:510:30:53

When they turn the light off, it goes on for a couple of minutes.

0:30:530:30:57

Like, at night-time, I dread going upstairs,

0:30:570:30:59

walking into my room, cos I can hear it.

0:30:590:31:01

I can just hear it going off.

0:31:010:31:03

To be quite honest with you, we dread coming home.

0:31:030:31:05

It's not a home, it is a house.

0:31:050:31:07

We have an obligation in law to investigate these things,

0:31:070:31:10

even though we know a lot of the time that there will be no successful

0:31:100:31:14

outcome and that what we are doing, in effect, is a waste of our time.

0:31:140:31:18

But we have to do it. It's part and parcel of the job.

0:31:180:31:22

The thing that I've got to consider now is what do we do

0:31:220:31:24

with regards to this fan. You're saying that it is still an issue.

0:31:240:31:27

It is an issue. It's definitely an issue.

0:31:270:31:30

But we can't ascertain through our recordings that there's a nuisance.

0:31:300:31:35

I'll discuss it with Gary and we'll discuss it with anyone we

0:31:350:31:37

need to discuss it with and we'll come to some form of way forward.

0:31:370:31:40

-That's fine.

-If there's something more we can do,

0:31:400:31:43

-then we'll do what we can.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:31:430:31:46

-Is that fair enough? And I'll be in touch.

-Yeah, that's fine.

0:31:460:31:51

Having given the Rosses another chance to state their case,

0:31:520:31:55

Phil and Gary must find a way to juggle the council's limited

0:31:550:31:58

resources and bring the matter to a speedy close.

0:31:580:32:01

While Phil's dealing with an issue affecting just one family,

0:32:130:32:16

Bev's been working with a restaurant whose poor hygiene could

0:32:160:32:19

affect hundreds of people.

0:32:190:32:21

-Good evening.

-How are you? All right?

-How are you doing?

0:32:210:32:24

Local residents called the council to the

0:32:240:32:26

alleyway behind the Indian restaurant.

0:32:260:32:28

Bev spotted a rat in its messy yard.

0:32:280:32:31

Oh, just seen one there.

0:32:310:32:33

Brian found rat faeces in its storeroom.

0:32:330:32:35

I can see rat droppings in here.

0:32:350:32:37

And what looked like rat runs in its kitchen.

0:32:370:32:40

The restaurant has had 48 hours to clean up its act

0:32:400:32:43

and, today, Bev's back.

0:32:430:32:45

If her instructions haven't been carried out,

0:32:450:32:48

she'll shut the restaurant down.

0:32:480:32:50

More or less all the holes have been blocked.

0:32:500:32:52

Great.

0:32:520:32:54

That's been blocked, that's... More or less everything.

0:32:540:32:56

In the floor, there was other holes.

0:32:560:32:59

This is absolutely much, much better.

0:32:590:33:02

There may have been an improvement outside,

0:33:020:33:05

but Bev needs to see if the problems inside have also been tackled.

0:33:050:33:09

-Is there any open food in there at the moment? Is it all away?

-All away.

0:33:100:33:14

All away? That's great, that's fine.

0:33:140:33:16

Hi, are you all right?

0:33:160:33:18

Good evening, chefs.

0:33:180:33:19

OK, so the hole...

0:33:190:33:21

That's all been blocked.

0:33:210:33:22

-It's solid concreted.

-Much better, yes.

0:33:240:33:28

The rat runs have been sealed.

0:33:280:33:30

But ever-vigilant Bev spots another potential problem.

0:33:300:33:33

What are we doing with this chicken? Is this going back in the fridge?

0:33:330:33:36

-Yeah.

-Go on, then.

0:33:360:33:38

Pop that in the fridge for me.

0:33:380:33:40

Thanks, chefs.

0:33:400:33:42

Chicken aside, it's clear that the owners

0:33:420:33:44

have worked hard to clean up their act.

0:33:440:33:46

To be fair, most businesses that we kind of work with are keen to

0:33:460:33:50

put things right once they've realised there's an error.

0:33:500:33:55

You know, and sometimes it may mean more than one visit,

0:33:550:33:58

sometimes it might mean a letter,

0:33:580:33:59

sometimes it might mean that we need to serve an improvement notice.

0:33:590:34:03

But sometimes, you know, we pretty much get things

0:34:030:34:06

'where we need them to be.'

0:34:060:34:08

I am well impressed.

0:34:080:34:09

With the work that you've done so far, I can already see

0:34:090:34:12

a massive improvement in the cleaning in there.

0:34:120:34:14

There's a bit more to go, OK.

0:34:140:34:16

We're not going to say that we're there yet.

0:34:160:34:18

But, a huge improvement.

0:34:180:34:19

Satisfied that customers will be safe...

0:34:210:34:24

Well done for the work out there guys. It is much, much better.

0:34:240:34:28

..Bev allows the restaurant to reopen.

0:34:280:34:31

Across the country,

0:34:410:34:43

there are thousands of local council officers going the extra mile

0:34:430:34:46

on our behalf and, tonight,

0:34:460:34:48

as night falls on Tameside, Phil Rodgers is working late.

0:34:480:34:53

After 14 years and more than 20 complaints,

0:34:530:34:56

he's trying to resolve the Rosses' latest issue once and for all.

0:34:560:35:00

When we've got a trouble capturing the evidence on tape,

0:35:000:35:04

which, in this case, we have, then we like to go and visit in person

0:35:040:35:07

and experience the noise that they are listening to.

0:35:070:35:11

The Rosses' neighbours dispute every claim that's been made against

0:35:110:35:14

them, but tonight, Phil is paying the Ross family another visit.

0:35:140:35:18

Hello, again.

0:35:180:35:19

In order to determine whether any noise from next door can be

0:35:190:35:23

legally labelled a nuisance, Phil needs to hear it for himself.

0:35:230:35:27

It's just this fan we're trying to resolve, isn't it?

0:35:270:35:29

And has there been any change in the tone of it, the use of it,

0:35:290:35:33

the frequency of it?

0:35:330:35:35

-No, it's still the same, ain't it?

-Yeah.

0:35:350:35:38

CLOCK TICKS

0:35:430:35:45

Ten minutes in, and the fan is yet to be heard.

0:35:480:35:51

That's on. That's just started.

0:35:550:35:58

You see, I'm not hearing that.

0:36:060:36:08

In the silence, I can hear the clocks ticking.

0:36:080:36:10

See, unless it gets louder than that, that is never,

0:36:120:36:14

ever going to be a stat nuisance.

0:36:140:36:16

It's just not loud enough.

0:36:160:36:18

-That kind of amplitude, that level.

-No, yeah, yeah.

0:36:180:36:21

That is never going to be a statutory noise nuisance,

0:36:210:36:23

as far as we're concerned.

0:36:230:36:25

And despite the fact that we will tell and tell and tell people -

0:36:250:36:28

we tell them in writing over and over and over again -

0:36:280:36:30

they still complain to us about the same things.

0:36:300:36:33

The difficulty I've got now is, that I've tried to get it recorded,

0:36:330:36:37

and I've tried to come and witness it

0:36:370:36:39

-and I can't get it to the degree that you say it's upsetting you at.

-No.

0:36:390:36:44

If they were banging on the wall with a saucepan every night,

0:36:440:36:47

particularly to annoy you, then that's something I can do about.

0:36:470:36:50

If they had the music on full blast all the time,

0:36:500:36:52

I can do something about.

0:36:520:36:54

But, if I can't get evidence that that's batting out,

0:36:540:36:57

then I'm never going to be able to do anything.

0:36:570:36:59

I can't witness it, and we think, don't we, that the

0:36:590:37:02

likelihood is that it will never be loud enough, even maybe

0:37:020:37:06

when it's even screeching, and it seems really bad to you.

0:37:060:37:09

That it might not be of a level loud enough for me to take any action.

0:37:090:37:14

It is not the result any of the family was hoping for.

0:37:140:37:17

That's it, the book's closed.

0:37:170:37:21

Council won't help us, nobody will help us.

0:37:210:37:23

It's just a living nightmare. We can't sell the house.

0:37:230:37:25

I just don't know what we're going to do.

0:37:250:37:27

I understand your disappointment.

0:37:270:37:29

But if there was something I could do, I would do.

0:37:290:37:31

We know that, we know that.

0:37:310:37:33

Thank you for coming, but, you know...

0:37:340:37:37

'We've pretty much tied it up. There's nothing we can do.

0:37:370:37:40

'And even at its loudest, allegedly, when I'm not here,'

0:37:400:37:44

it's never going to be loud enough

0:37:440:37:45

for the council to be able to enforce anything.

0:37:450:37:47

We'll probably draw a line under the whole investigation

0:37:470:37:51

at this particular point in time.

0:37:510:37:53

And I will write and confirm that with Mr Ross tomorrow.

0:37:530:37:56

With no evidence of any noise nuisance this time,

0:37:560:37:59

the Rosses' case is closed.

0:37:590:38:02

There's never, ever going to be a successful resolution to it,

0:38:020:38:06

unless one of them moves.

0:38:060:38:07

Britain's council officers

0:38:190:38:21

are dedicated to protecting us from unseen danger.

0:38:210:38:24

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

0:38:240:38:27

inspected by the local authority

0:38:270:38:29

and given a hygiene rating from zero, the lowest, to five, the best.

0:38:290:38:34

Tonight, Bev Hursthouse is back at the Indian restaurant that

0:38:340:38:38

recently shut down after rats were discovered in its yard.

0:38:380:38:42

The food hygiene rating score that this business currently

0:38:420:38:45

carries is a three, which is classed as satisfactory.

0:38:450:38:48

The business owners are quite keen to sort of improve that

0:38:480:38:51

and hopefully get a four or a five.

0:38:510:38:54

But ratings can go down, as well as up.

0:38:540:38:58

Hello, are you all right?

0:38:580:39:00

Having removed the rats, cleaned up and reopened,

0:39:000:39:04

manager Farouk needs to prove that his restaurant

0:39:040:39:06

and its staff have made big changes to the way they operate.

0:39:060:39:10

How's it going?

0:39:100:39:11

Wow, you've done some work in here now, haven't you?

0:39:110:39:14

-How's things?

-Yeah, good, good.

0:39:140:39:17

But Bev's not here to see cosmetic changes.

0:39:170:39:21

What I'm going to do today, I'm going to have a look around.

0:39:210:39:23

I'm just going to go in there, and check some temperatures,

0:39:230:39:26

have a look at your fridges and your freezers.

0:39:260:39:29

She needs to check that the restaurant's paperwork

0:39:290:39:32

is in order and carry out a thorough inspection of its kitchens.

0:39:320:39:36

Is this table kind of a permanent fixture here?

0:39:370:39:41

It could just be seen as a little bit of an obstruction.

0:39:410:39:43

-Is this just your plate warmer?

-Plate warmer.

0:39:430:39:46

Are you still using this to keep takeaways warm?

0:39:460:39:48

Does that still go in there to keep warm as well?

0:39:480:39:51

So when is all your raw meat prepped then?

0:39:510:39:53

-Is that all kind of done at one time?

-Yeah, it is all...

0:39:530:39:55

When it comes, we do it straightaway.

0:39:550:39:58

What I've noticed is you're

0:39:580:39:59

carrying quite minimum stock now, aren't you?

0:39:590:40:01

-There's not a lot of... Yeah, so you are shopping more frequently.

-Day by day.

0:40:010:40:04

Cos you haven't got the space to accommodate that really, have you?

0:40:040:40:08

That's fine. But what we need to sort of get reassurance from you

0:40:080:40:11

is that we're not sort of cleaning to make it that when we come...

0:40:110:40:15

No, no, we'll try to keep it like that anyway.

0:40:150:40:17

Not try. Not try.

0:40:170:40:19

-It has to be.

-It has to be.

0:40:190:40:21

Examination over, Farouk faces an anxious wait to see

0:40:230:40:27

if his restaurant gets the rating he so desperately wants.

0:40:270:40:30

It's hard, hard work, but slowly we just finish it now.

0:40:320:40:36

It is good now. We need at least five.

0:40:360:40:39

Based on today, and what I've seen today

0:40:410:40:44

and the chat that we've had and the work you've done

0:40:440:40:46

and the money that you've spent

0:40:460:40:48

and obviously you've put in all this new equipment

0:40:480:40:50

and cleaning procedures...

0:40:500:40:51

Your rating currently, at the moment,

0:40:510:40:54

was a three, wasn't it?

0:40:540:40:55

Which I know you were disappointed with.

0:40:550:40:57

OK, I'm rating it today as a five. OK?

0:40:570:41:00

You've worked really, really hard to get that.

0:41:000:41:02

At least we try to make you happy. That's important.

0:41:020:41:05

-And we will try and keep it clean.

-Not try.

0:41:050:41:07

You keep on using that word "try".

0:41:070:41:09

-OK.

-Let's have the word "try" out. You do need to do it.

-Yeah.

0:41:090:41:12

There's no ifs or buts,

0:41:120:41:14

we do need to keep it safe. Yeah?

0:41:140:41:16

-So a five. Are you happy with that?

-You can't go above that.

0:41:160:41:19

You can't go above five.

0:41:190:41:21

-No, five is OK.

-OK?

0:41:210:41:23

-Thank you, bye-bye.

-Thank you.

0:41:230:41:25

The restaurant has come a long way.

0:41:250:41:27

Thanks to Bev, the rats are gone, the kitchens are clean

0:41:270:41:30

and the customers are safe.

0:41:300:41:33

They've cleaned up their act.

0:41:330:41:34

I'm confident now that they kind of keep it like that.

0:41:340:41:37

You know, the issue with the yard is sorted,

0:41:370:41:39

kitchens have introduced new equipment in there.

0:41:390:41:42

The cleaning, they've got cleaning materials available,

0:41:420:41:45

which wasn't available last time.

0:41:450:41:46

I'm sort of... I can go home and sleep at night,

0:41:460:41:48

knowing that there's no rats coming into this restaurant.

0:41:480:41:51

So, yeah, I'm happy.

0:41:510:41:53

It's a successful conclusion for the restaurant, the council

0:41:530:41:56

and, most importantly, Tameside's residents.

0:41:560:41:59

It's been another productive day for the country's local council heroes.

0:42:020:42:07

-I'm delighted with your service.

-Thank you very much.

0:42:070:42:10

They've helped a great-grandmother rid her roof of wasps.

0:42:100:42:13

It's a good day today, but not for wasps.

0:42:130:42:17

They've listened to their residents...

0:42:170:42:20

-It's just really, really loud and we just can't sleep.

-OK.

0:42:200:42:23

We'll put this in. We'll record for a full week.

0:42:230:42:26

..and cleared rats from restaurant back-yards.

0:42:260:42:29

From Environmental Health!

0:42:290:42:30

-Oh, just seen one there.

-Just seen one there?

0:42:300:42:33

But, most importantly, they've worked tirelessly to

0:42:330:42:36

help their residents when they called the council.

0:42:360:42:39

I can't say how many lives I've saved.

0:42:390:42:41

You know, I'm not a superhero, I wouldn't imagine.

0:42:410:42:44

But, if I've done enough to say, "That didn't happen

0:42:440:42:47

"because of work that we're doing", then that's enough for me.

0:42:470:42:50

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.


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