Episode 1 Call the Council


Episode 1

Series following council officers. Wigan Council's emergency team swing into action when a fire breaks out in a block of flats. Volunteers help the council clear a cemetery.


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Transcript


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From rubbish and recycling...

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to potholes and pavements...

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-Another street down, another street to go.

-..educating our children...

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-Fantastic.

-..and caring for the elderly...

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It does make a difference

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when you see what can be achieved.

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..we rely on our local councils to provide a huge range of services.

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You may kiss the bride.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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In this series, we follow front-line staff

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working for Wigan Council in Greater Manchester.

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-BANGING

-Oh! Sorry.

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Like council offices across the country,

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-they're protecting us from hidden dangers...

-Oh, dear.

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..stepping in when there's an emergency...

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POLICE SIREN

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You never know what you're turning up to.

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..and responding to residents...

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..when they... PHONE RINGS

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..call the council.

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Coming up on today's programme...

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The council's emergency team

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swing into action as a massive fire breaks out at a block of flats.

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They're very lucky to get out alive and unhurt, aren't they?

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Officers help neighbours who are living next door to an eyesore

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garden full of rubbish.

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You've got to feel sorry for the people living next door,

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haven't you, the state this property is in?

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And solving a grave problem.

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Somebody has actually climbed in there to put flowers on the grave.

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A council-run cemetery is given a face-lift.

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I'm going to get dirty, believe it or not.

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Wigan lies 20 miles west of Manchester.

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It's home to over 300,000 people.

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The council is the beating heart of the community.

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And what was the inquiry regarding, do you know?

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It's responsible for running everyday services that

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keep our towns and cities ticking over as normal.

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OK, thanks for calling the council.

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But every so often, it has to deal with the unexpected.

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In the early hours of the 14th of June, a massive fire broke

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out at a privately owned block of flats in the centre of Wigan.

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Around 200 residents had to leave their block of flats, as more

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than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze.

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I was duty officer for that weekend

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and I got a call at approximately 7.30 in the morning, saying

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there was a major fire in Wigan and people were being evacuated,

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and that we'd be needed to support the fire brigade and the police.

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200 people fled their homes as the fire took hold.

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The fire was so serious,

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Wigan Council's emergency plan was activated.

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24 hours after the start of the blaze, key council staff,

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like housing officer Michelle Price and her colleague Jennifer Martlew,

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are on their way to the scene.

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Obviously, this is the building that's had the huge fire.

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You can see there, the roof.

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It looks in a bad way, so people have had to be evacuated from there.

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And you can smell it as well.

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No-one is allowed back in the building,

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and some apartments may have been completely destroyed by the fire.

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They're very lucky to get out alive and unhurt, aren't they?

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Not a nice time, is it, for people, definitely?

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It's been a traumatic experience for all of the residents.

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Wendy Jones was asleep when the fire broke out.

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Went to bed about 11 o'clock.

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And then was woken to banging on the door, shouting, "Fire,"

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and then you could hear the fire alarm going off.

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Didn't realise that it was serious until they knocked again,

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and as soon as I opened the patio door, you could smell the smoke.

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Yeah, it was... It was for real.

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The council is now helping Wendy and the 200 other evacuated residents,

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feeding them and finding them somewhere to stay.

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The first thing we did was open the rest centre adjacent to the

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fire, so people had somewhere to go, had food.

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We also gave frequent updates on the incident to people.

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It was emotional, and the big thing, really, was that everybody was

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different. There was so many people, all with different problems and issues,

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and trying to cope with that and satisfy people was very difficult.

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Residents evacuated their homes 24 hours ago

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in only the clothes they were wearing.

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Many are desperate to go back in and rescue more of their belongings.

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So, if you can go through by room, and then we'll sort of... Is that all right?

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Housing officer Michelle is helping residents to make

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a list of their key possessions.

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Firemen will then bring out anything they can.

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OK, what kind of teddy?

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It is kind of busy, it is kind of hectic,

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but it's helping people, so...

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Anything else, any other sentimental items?

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-Photographs...

-We've lost everything.

-Have you? You've been told that your...

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It's been a difficult day for everyone working at the scene.

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And for council housing staff, there are still huge challenges ahead.

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Emotionally, the mood is... I suppose it is kind of up and down, really.

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Some people have been quite upset that they've lost their flats

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and their belongings.

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Not a nice time for some people, but everyone is sort of bearing up OK,

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being quite strong and focusing on what they can do, really.

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It all starts again in the morning, I think, really, and see where people are at then.

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Coming up...

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I have got a key, but there's no door.

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Can the council rehouse residents and help them

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rebuild shattered lives?

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There's nothing left, they've been devastated,

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they can't salvage anything.

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So I've lost everything.

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One of our councils' key day-to-day jobs is dealing with rubbish.

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Most of us have something to say about it.

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For my £100 of council tax a month, I'd like to see my

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council address the issue of litter in some of the suburbs of the city.

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As a private homeowner, my bins get emptied every week

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and they don't leave a mess in the street any more,

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so that's really good from the council.

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I'd like to understand my bin rota, because I clearly don't.

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But I'm fine where I live, it is quite a rural area.

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I think I get value for money,

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I don't have many problems at all, but I'm fortunate.

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Rubbish dumped in back yards and gardens

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is an ongoing problem for councils across the country.

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Local authorities now have powers to prosecute householders

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if the rubbish isn't cleared up.

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In Wigan, cases of illegally dumped rubbish are dealt

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with by environmental enforcement officers like Mark Farrimond.

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The garden is full of all sorts of stuff.

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He's not been putting his bins out,

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and he's been storing black-bag waste, I think, in the rooms.

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Today Mark has been called out to an empty property

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on the outskirts of town.

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The back yard of the house is piled high with rubbish

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and neighbours have rung in to complain about the mess.

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There is a lot of waste in the property.

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I do believe that the people living in the property before

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wasn't putting the bins out.

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They were storing rubbish in rooms in the property

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and it's now all ended up in the back garden.

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This is the second time Mark has been called out to this property.

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He's already warned the landlord there may be squatters inside

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but so far nothing seems to have been done.

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There's a hole in the back door, which is still unsecure.

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I've reported that to them.

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Mark's concerned that the rotting rubbish will create more

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problems for people living nearby.

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It looks like the contents of the house,

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some of the contents have been put out into the back garden.

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Once the weather gets warmer, there is going to

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be odours coming from that which is going to be flies, insects.

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Obviously, the residents won't be able to enjoy the

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warm weather outside, because they are going to be affected with this.

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It needs sorting out, really.

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Householders who regularly dump rubbish in the garden can be

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found guilty of a criminal offence and fined up to £2,500.

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That might not be the case here but Mark needs to contact

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the landlord to find out what's going on.

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I'm hoping they'll have done it by the end of this next week.

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If they don't do that, then we will threaten to do work in default,

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and that will mean that we will get a contractor in to remove

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the waste and then bill them for the waste.

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Coming up...

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Mark returns to the house.

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There's glass all over the floor here.

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Anybody could cut themselves on that.

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Could the situation be about to take a turn for the worse?

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Local councils are involved in many of the key moments of our lives...

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from the day our births are registered...

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to the day our loved ones bid us goodbye.

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Andy Bond's job at Wigan Council is about dealing with the dead

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and the relatives they leave behind.

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As Bereavement Services Manager, I am responsible for the small team

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who deliver the funerals

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of about 70% of the registered deaths in the borough

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on an annual basis

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and ultimately to oversee that the service

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we deliver is done with dignity and respect.

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Another important part of Andy's job is managing

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and maintaining the borough's nine cemeteries.

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We have hundreds of visitors every day to the cemeteries

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and we've got to make sure they feel they're in a well-presented

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place and they feel safe and welcomed.

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Lower Ince is Wigan's oldest cemetery.

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Over the years, parts of it have become badly overgrown.

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It's the least visited areas that are affected.

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But local resident Brenda Rigby is prepared to struggle through

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the undergrowth to get to her grandma's grave.

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Last time she visited, she tripped on the weeds.

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There are weeds and nettles.

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Mothering Sunday, I nearly did myself a mischief.

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I'm upset because I think about my grandma

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and I would like it to be normal, just so you can walk down,

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because I remember with my mum,

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I used to come and it was walkway,

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you could see, and so nice.

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It's a shame.

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A shame but, obviously, money is money, isn't it?

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It's surprising, once you get into it, you can see the headstones.

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Restoring this old cemetery is a huge challenge

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for Andy and his team.

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Because money has been restricted over the years, the older,

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historical parts of the cemeteries are just let to grow,

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so you get trees establishing, rhododendrons growing over

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and the historical headstones have become inaccessible.

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Now, thanks to some extra help from a local church,

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this historic cemetery is getting a face-lift.

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-So we're better starting on this side, really.

-This edge.

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And go that way.

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Today, Graham Gifford from the Church of Jesus Christ

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of Latter-Day Saints is meeting Andy and his colleague Mark Birchall.

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Every year, the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints, Mormons,

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do a day of service.

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The people in this area, the members of the church in this area

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are going to come to Wigan this year.

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So it's the cemetery's turn to get that day of service.

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Just watch your footing.

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At the weekend, the church volunteers will spend a day here,

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mowing, pruning and weeding.

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-In relation to headstones that are down?

-Leave them.

-You've got to.

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Some of the headstones are broken but the council staff can

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only move or repair them with relatives' permission.

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When people move house, they tell the gas board,

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electricity board, water, telephone. They don't tell us.

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So we always struggle to make contact with family members to say

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there is an issue or there is something you might be able to do.

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Brenda Rigby's grandma is buried in an area which needs

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the most serious pruning.

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So this is the area I'm a bit more concerned about.

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Fortunately, it's one of the places where the volunteers

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will be working on clean-up day.

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-There's some fabulous graves down there.

-Yeah.

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It would be good to uncover them again

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-and just make it available for the public.

-Just open it up.

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It's a massive area, isn't it?

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It can only be improved. It can definitely be improved.

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It's now fingers crossed for fine weather

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and a big turnout at the weekend.

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They are all volunteers. They can't be forced to come.

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It's up to them to decide on the day

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but I've a sneaky feeling this might be a good one.

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Brilliant.

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Coming up...

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The volunteers prepare to do battle in the undergrowth.

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I don't think Wigan Council believe that we could achieve this.

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And a council officer goes head-to-head with

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a slab of concrete.

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It keeps me in trim, doesn't it?

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I'm not getting any younger.

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A massive fire has ripped through a six-storey

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block of flats in Wigan town centre.

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The council's emergency plan has been activated

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and staff are working alongside the emergency services to help

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the 200 residents, who have had to be evacuated.

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Emergency fire helpline, Lee speaking.

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Just a bed.

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The council has set up a special hotline.

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What they're doing tonight, they're going out to look

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at the fourth floor, which is the most heavily damaged.

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They are looking at possibly demolishing the whole fourth floor.

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The residents initially were shocked and it was coping with that shock.

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We had requests such as, "I've lost my mobile-phone charger,"

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and things which you wouldn't have thought was important to people,

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but it was initially to them.

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But as the incident went on,

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they then started to ask where should they go,

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what should they do.

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We will be able to give them answers to that.

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48 hours after the blaze started,

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fire crews are still damping down.

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Many evacuated residents have spent a second night in local hotels.

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At the rest centre,

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council staff are serving up breakfast to the homeless.

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It's a case of rallying together and making sure that we give support

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to our residents, which really, really is high-priority

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and that's basically... Our day job was stopped and it's hands to the

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pump and make sure that we are looking after our local community.

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Firemen are assessing the damage as residents wait

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anxiously to find out when they can return to their flats.

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Wendy Green was out of town when the fire broke out.

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I didn't find out about it until my brother rang me on the morning

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and said, "Your flats are on fire, get back."

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It didn't look too bad at the time.

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It was the back of the building that was on fire

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and I thought I might be OK...

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..I might be able to salvage some stuff.

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But then they came back later on in the afternoon

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and the front of the building had gone as well.

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Wendy rents a flat in the most damaged part of the building.

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My apartment's on the top floor, it's over the top two floors.

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It's a duplex apartment.

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Where you can see the badly damaged bit at the top,

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I'm sort of second one in.

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Then the green bit that's exposed at the top,

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that would be my balcony and living area

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and kitchen behind that.

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I can see, just looking at it from here, how badly damaged it is.

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I've lost everything.

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Everything's gone. I've got nothing.

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I'm wearing donated clothes.

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Thank you.

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No, it's been a big shock.

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Furniture, pots and pans, bedding, things like that can all be

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replaced but it's the sentimental stuff that can't be.

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I had a box brought up to me by my son only last week

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with Mother's Day cards in and photographs of the kids,

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my parents' wedding album.

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They're no longer here, that's all I had of those, that's gone.

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Erm, I lost my nan a few years ago

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and I had a box with her belongings in.

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That's gone.

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I've got memories but that's it.

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Everything else has gone.

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It's becoming clear that at least 50 flats

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are fire damaged beyond repair, including Wendy's.

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Council staff are on hand to give advice about emergency housing.

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I've got a key but there's no door.

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No door on it, OK.

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Could you give the key to us just in case, if that's OK?

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Yeah, that's the front door.

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There are difficult times ahead but Wendy

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and her neighbours are grateful for the support

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they're still receiving from the council team.

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You don't realise how kind people can be until

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something like this happens. Everybody's mucking in together,

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everybody's helping each other and it's amazing.

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You find out who your friends are.

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-INTERVIEWER: It brings out the best in people?

-It does, yeah.

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The fire service is pulling down the top storey of the block,

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which includes Wendy's flat.

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Tonight she'll stay with friends but the long-term future is uncertain.

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I'm sort of in limbo at the moment.

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My priority now is to find somewhere else to live.

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Coming up...

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Wendy searches for a new home.

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-Nice to see you again.

-Take a seat.

-Thank you.

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And can the council help other Wharfside residents

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rebuild their lives?

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I don't really want to be here.

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It's...

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It just brings that night back.

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The council has had calls about rubbish in the back

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yard of an empty house.

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There's going to be odours coming from that, which is going to

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be flies, insects, so it needs sorting out, really.

0:21:110:21:15

Neighbours are fed up with the mess and now squatters may have moved in.

0:21:150:21:20

There's a hole in the back door, which is still unsecure.

0:21:200:21:24

Environmental Enforcement Officer Mark Farrimond

0:21:290:21:32

is in charge of the case.

0:21:320:21:34

Today he's going back to the house to check

0:21:370:21:39

if the waste has been taken away yet.

0:21:390:21:41

I've contacted the people who own it now and I'm going back to see

0:21:430:21:47

if they've cleared the yard out, which I've asked them to do.

0:21:470:21:50

So we'll have a look to see what maintenance has taken place.

0:21:500:21:54

I gave them a deadline of a week to get it done.

0:21:540:21:57

I'm hoping that it's been sorted out.

0:21:570:22:00

Looking at that, nothing's being done,

0:22:050:22:07

because I can still see the mattresses in the back garden.

0:22:070:22:11

Disappointment for Mark.

0:22:140:22:16

The back yard looks even worse than before.

0:22:190:22:22

The only thing that's changed is the back door.

0:22:240:22:27

The hole that was in the back door has been sealed up from the inside.

0:22:270:22:31

So I'm not sure who has done that, obviously,

0:22:310:22:34

but I need now to get in touch with the owners of this property and

0:22:340:22:39

find out now what is their timescale,

0:22:390:22:42

because it's gone on too long.

0:22:420:22:45

Looking at this, you know, the state of it, the rubbish that's here,

0:22:450:22:48

and the hot weather we've just recently had,

0:22:480:22:50

I don't think they're looking after the residents that live here

0:22:500:22:54

and the neighbours that live next door to it.

0:22:540:22:56

It's time to check out the front of the house.

0:22:580:23:01

Looking at this, looking at this,

0:23:020:23:04

the front window's recently been smashed.

0:23:040:23:06

The condition of the property has deteriorated even further.

0:23:070:23:11

It needs boarding up and made safe.

0:23:110:23:15

That's a hazard to any children, even.

0:23:150:23:18

There's glass all over the floor here.

0:23:180:23:20

Anybody could cut themselves on that.

0:23:200:23:22

There are all-too-obvious signs that someone's been inside the house.

0:23:240:23:27

The house is absolutely full of rubbish.

0:23:290:23:32

The waste in here is going to be affecting other residents

0:23:320:23:35

and it's annoying, looking at it. It's in a right state.

0:23:350:23:38

In fact, I can actually see one of my letters there.

0:23:380:23:44

So they have been receiving letters,

0:23:440:23:46

because it shows they've been opening them.

0:23:460:23:49

That door is hardly secure.

0:23:530:23:55

No-one is answering the door.

0:23:550:23:57

It's time for Mark to think about his next move.

0:24:010:24:04

You've got to feel sorry for the people living next door,

0:24:060:24:09

haven't you, the state this property is in?

0:24:090:24:11

It's part of a row of terraced houses

0:24:110:24:13

so it's paramount it gets sorted out as soon as possible.

0:24:130:24:18

It needs really something done today.

0:24:190:24:22

So that's what I will be pushing for.

0:24:220:24:24

Mark's heading back to the office to make some urgent calls.

0:24:240:24:28

With the rubbish mounting up and broken glass on the pavement,

0:24:280:24:31

he wants action as soon as possible.

0:24:310:24:34

I'm ringing from Wigan Council Waste Services.

0:24:340:24:38

It's Mark Farrimond.

0:24:380:24:40

I'm ringing from Waste Services at Wigan Council.

0:24:400:24:43

Mark's now managed to get hold of the company

0:24:430:24:45

that manage the property.

0:24:450:24:48

It's time for some tough talking.

0:24:480:24:50

I'll be honest with you now, right? This has dragged on too long.

0:24:500:24:53

The property is in a real bad state and this is a serious matter now.

0:24:530:24:57

I'm concerned now that we need to get this glass cleaned up,

0:24:580:25:01

at least to get something made safe with that.

0:25:010:25:03

OK, thank you. Bye. Bye.

0:25:060:25:09

Coming up...

0:25:180:25:20

Can Mark get the rubbish problem sorted at the house?

0:25:200:25:23

Or will he have to take the case further?

0:25:230:25:26

If the waste has not been removed, I'll have to serve notice.

0:25:260:25:29

The super depot is the HQ of Wigan Council's Environmental Services.

0:25:390:25:44

Hundreds of officers leave here every day to empty the bins,

0:25:440:25:47

clean the streets and carry out essential repairs.

0:25:470:25:52

Today, Drainage Investigation Operative Tommy Robinson

0:25:520:25:56

is preparing for a heavyweight job

0:25:560:25:58

that will put his strength to the test.

0:25:580:26:01

You'll see the muscles kick in.

0:26:010:26:03

Council tenant Baback Armoun has a big problem.

0:26:100:26:13

A massive raised slab of concrete in his back garden.

0:26:200:26:24

The slab sits on top of a raised drain.

0:26:250:26:28

Baback's children like playing on it

0:26:280:26:31

and he's worried they could get hurt.

0:26:310:26:34

The reason I called the council was that top was a little bit high.

0:26:340:26:38

My children usually play on it and sometimes they fall down from it.

0:26:380:26:42

Besides that, it's not nice-looking.

0:26:420:26:45

Tommy knows it's a job that will test his physical

0:26:460:26:49

prowess to the limit.

0:26:490:26:50

Mostly the jobs are really about using your brain.

0:26:520:26:56

This afternoon, this job's more about using brawn.

0:26:560:27:00

Tommy's going straight to the back yard

0:27:040:27:06

to find out what needs to be done.

0:27:060:27:08

This is the main drain.

0:27:080:27:10

If the main gets blocked up, this is one of the manholes they'll

0:27:100:27:14

come to, to clear it, basically.

0:27:140:27:18

The kids have been playing on here.

0:27:180:27:20

As long as we get this down to a minimum height, where

0:27:200:27:22

they can actually walk on it without falling off,

0:27:220:27:25

then my job's done.

0:27:250:27:27

Anyroad, I'll get cracking.

0:27:270:27:29

Literally.

0:27:290:27:31

Tommy has to bring the slab down to ground level.

0:27:320:27:36

Shifting a huge slab of concrete is going to be a massive challenge.

0:27:360:27:40

First, there are four layers of brickwork to demolish

0:27:430:27:45

and remove from the site.

0:27:450:27:49

It keeps me trim, doesn't it? I'm not getting any younger.

0:27:490:27:52

Like I've always said, there's eight hours in a day, fulfil it.

0:27:520:27:55

Do your job, and you'll always have a job.

0:27:550:27:59

Time for a tea break and a chat with Baback about work in progress.

0:28:010:28:05

So once I've got that back course off coming round...

0:28:060:28:08

Will it be level, Tommy?

0:28:080:28:11

Level with this ground?

0:28:110:28:14

Like that.

0:28:140:28:16

Perfect, thank you.

0:28:180:28:19

Cos you've made me a brew. You didn't give me any biscuits,

0:28:190:28:22

but you made me a brew.

0:28:220:28:24

Baback's taken the hint.

0:28:250:28:27

-There you are, Tommy.

-Biscuits.

-Biscuits.

0:28:270:28:30

Biscuits are what's needed to build Tommy's strength...

0:28:300:28:34

The smell of it.

0:28:340:28:36

..despite the overpowering stench from the open drain.

0:28:360:28:40

Nothing puts me off biscuits and food.

0:28:400:28:42

Not even a...

0:28:430:28:45

touch of the old, er...

0:28:450:28:47

..raw sauce.

0:28:500:28:52

The final bricks have been removed.

0:28:550:28:57

It's the moment of truth.

0:28:570:29:00

Can Tommy shift the concrete slab?

0:29:010:29:03

He's done it.

0:29:100:29:11

He can now prepare the opening to the drain at ground level.

0:29:110:29:15

The concrete slab goes back down

0:29:160:29:18

and Tommy cements in a new manhole cover.

0:29:180:29:22

How nice does that look?

0:29:270:29:29

He's pulled it off.

0:29:320:29:33

The slab has been re-laid.

0:29:330:29:35

Tommy heads for home and a well-earned rest.

0:29:370:29:41

Baback's children can now play safely in the garden.

0:29:420:29:45

It's a lot safer for the kids.

0:29:450:29:47

I'm happy with it.

0:29:470:29:50

Another satisfied customer.

0:29:500:29:52

An historic cemetery in Wigan has become so overgrown,

0:30:040:30:07

many of the older graves are almost impossible to get to.

0:30:070:30:10

No, it's a shame.

0:30:130:30:14

A shame, but, obviously, money is money, isn't it?

0:30:140:30:18

But a group of church volunteers are joining forces

0:30:180:30:22

with the council to give it a face-lift.

0:30:220:30:24

There's some fabulous graves down there.

0:30:240:30:27

It's the day of the big clean-up.

0:30:290:30:31

This is my elite A-team, this.

0:30:320:30:36

You know, this is the equivalent of the local SAS unit.

0:30:360:30:40

Graham Gifford from the Mormon church is fighting with

0:30:420:30:45

a gazebo in the cemetery grounds.

0:30:450:30:47

You just keep hold, Alan. Keep hold, David.

0:30:470:30:50

His prayers for good weather, and lots of volunteers,

0:30:550:30:59

appear to have been answered.

0:30:590:31:00

The car park is filling up.

0:31:000:31:03

This is the area we're doing.

0:31:040:31:08

These here.

0:31:080:31:09

They've got a tough day ahead.

0:31:090:31:11

This overgrown cemetery needs some heavy-duty pruning.

0:31:110:31:15

You can see, there is graves in there.

0:31:150:31:18

Somebody's actually climbed in there to put flowers on a grave.

0:31:200:31:25

Somebody's left flowers in that area.

0:31:250:31:28

That makes it even more important

0:31:280:31:30

that we clear this area,

0:31:300:31:33

so that people can come quietly and visit ancestors.

0:31:330:31:37

Time to get down to business.

0:31:400:31:42

The volunteers hack their way into the undergrowth.

0:31:420:31:46

It is kind of difficult to know where to start.

0:31:460:31:49

I feel like it's so exciting, you know, and the sunshine is so good.

0:31:520:31:57

I just enjoy it. And to help others, that's really good.

0:31:570:32:01

It's going good, we've been cutting down so much trees, as you can see.

0:32:010:32:04

It's coming along really, really well, actually.

0:32:040:32:07

Mid-morning, and Bereavement Services Manager Andy Bond has arrived,

0:32:100:32:14

dressed to impress.

0:32:140:32:16

When we get volunteers in, we don't want them

0:32:180:32:21

coming to do our work, we want to work with them, alongside them.

0:32:210:32:24

Obviously, my normal attire is shirt and tie, sat at my desk.

0:32:240:32:27

I'd look a bit silly today.

0:32:270:32:29

So we've raided the stores and I'm going to get dirty,

0:32:290:32:31

believe it or not.

0:32:310:32:33

I'll get stick for this, for the forthcoming few months.

0:32:330:32:36

But it's worth it.

0:32:360:32:38

Graham and the team are well ahead.

0:32:420:32:45

They've already cleared the first section.

0:32:450:32:47

The old gravestones are gradually emerging back into the light.

0:32:480:32:52

We're almost finished in this area.

0:32:520:32:54

If you remember, we would now be stood at the edge of where the trees were.

0:32:540:32:59

I went and parted some branches for you to see these flowers

0:32:590:33:03

that were on that grave.

0:33:030:33:04

Just look how far back they've gone from here.

0:33:040:33:07

Just look at all these old graves.

0:33:070:33:08

I knew this was going to be a good project.

0:33:080:33:11

I knew this was going to be a project worth doing.

0:33:110:33:14

The volunteers are doing an incredible job,

0:33:140:33:17

helping to save the council and Wigan taxpayers

0:33:170:33:20

a tidy sum of money.

0:33:200:33:22

There has been studies done where

0:33:220:33:25

volunteer time is valued at £10 an hour.

0:33:250:33:27

So if you look at the 150 people here

0:33:270:33:29

and they do five hours apiece, that's quite a chunk of money.

0:33:290:33:33

That's happening in our cemeteries that we couldn't facilitate

0:33:330:33:36

on the resource we have available.

0:33:360:33:38

We've got the heavy-lifting gang in now. Come on, let's go for it.

0:33:390:33:43

By the afternoon, the volunteers have reached the most overgrown

0:33:430:33:47

area of the cemetery.

0:33:470:33:49

Don't these lads know how to clear shrubbery!

0:33:490:33:52

Don't they just!

0:33:520:33:53

It's great to be able to provide a service like this.

0:33:560:33:59

So...

0:33:590:34:00

I'm really, really pleased with the progress we've made, as well.

0:34:000:34:04

I don't think Wigan Council believe that we could achieve this.

0:34:040:34:08

So...

0:34:080:34:09

It's good news.

0:34:090:34:11

It is.

0:34:110:34:13

Everybody's happy and smiling and chopping wood and bringing it over.

0:34:170:34:20

We are uncovering some really,

0:34:200:34:21

really big, historical Victorian headstones.

0:34:210:34:25

Fundamentally, the job's a good 'un.

0:34:250:34:28

At the end of the day, the team have done 750 hours of work between them,

0:34:320:34:38

transforming this historic cemetery for the people of Wigan.

0:34:380:34:41

They've worked hard, they've uncovered loads.

0:34:430:34:46

-It's a stepping stone for us, we can continue to do stuff.

-Yeah.

0:34:460:34:49

Come on, let's go and wave them off. Let's go home.

0:34:490:34:52

Thanks to the volunteers, Brenda Rigby,

0:34:560:34:59

whose grandma's grave was hidden deep in the undergrowth,

0:34:590:35:02

is now able to make her way there safely to pay her respects.

0:35:020:35:06

I'm pleased. Absolutely pleased,

0:35:090:35:12

because some of these I've not even seen myself after all these years.

0:35:120:35:16

I am glad. I am glad.

0:35:160:35:18

Complaints have come in to the council about broken glass

0:35:330:35:37

and piles of rubbish outside an empty house.

0:35:370:35:40

You've got to feel sorry for the people living next door,

0:35:400:35:43

haven't you, the state this property's in?

0:35:430:35:45

The Waste Services Department has told the landlord

0:35:450:35:48

to get it cleaned up.

0:35:480:35:49

This has dragged on too long and this is a serious matter now.

0:35:490:35:52

It's a drizzly, wet morning in Wigan.

0:35:550:35:57

And Mark Farrimond's first job of the day

0:35:590:36:02

is a return visit to the house.

0:36:020:36:04

This rain, this fine mist,

0:36:040:36:07

some of the locals call it Billings rain.

0:36:070:36:09

I'm not sure why that is and it's not hammering rain,

0:36:090:36:13

but you still get wet through without really realising it.

0:36:130:36:17

Yeah, it's a bit grim up north today in Wigan.

0:36:180:36:20

It looks like something has happened, because I can see there is

0:36:240:36:27

a gate on the back of the property which I've never seen before.

0:36:270:36:30

And they've made some sort of attempts to secure it as best

0:36:300:36:35

they can for the time being.

0:36:350:36:37

There is a couple of mattresses there, a bed base.

0:36:370:36:40

They were in the garden, so whether they're going to be taken

0:36:400:36:43

away by somebody else, I don't know.

0:36:430:36:45

The outside of the house has been sorted out

0:36:460:36:49

but what about the back yard?

0:36:490:36:51

The back yard has been cleared up.

0:36:540:36:56

You can actually see the soil

0:36:560:36:58

and bits of shrubbery that were in the garden.

0:36:580:37:01

Erm, it's been completely cleared.

0:37:010:37:03

So that's a really good result.

0:37:030:37:06

There's even a polite note for Mark on top of a rubbish bag.

0:37:060:37:11

"Back in morning."

0:37:110:37:13

So they're obviously going to come back for this

0:37:130:37:16

and the other residue left, the mattresses, the bed and bed base.

0:37:160:37:20

At least they're being responsible.

0:37:210:37:23

It's time to check out the front of the house.

0:37:250:37:28

The last time I came, the front window was all smashed in.

0:37:280:37:32

There was a big hole here.

0:37:320:37:34

There were shards of glass like sharks' fins, basically,

0:37:340:37:38

sticking out, which was a danger, and some glass on the floor.

0:37:380:37:41

At least they were health and safety conscious

0:37:410:37:44

and carried out our wishes.

0:37:440:37:46

What about the inside of the house?

0:37:470:37:48

I can see into the property through there

0:37:500:37:53

and it's absolutely clear, there is no waste in there whatsoever.

0:37:530:37:57

The whole job's been done, which is very important.

0:37:570:38:00

That's that, really, now.

0:38:000:38:02

It looks like Mark's repeated calls for action have finally

0:38:060:38:09

paid off and the council's job is now done.

0:38:090:38:13

They've obviously listened to what we've said and acted on it.

0:38:130:38:16

It may have taken a little bit longer than we wanted,

0:38:160:38:18

but we've got the end result and that's what matters.

0:38:180:38:21

I'm sure the residents will be pleased now,

0:38:210:38:23

because it was in a horrendous state.

0:38:230:38:26

Yeah, I think it's a win-win all round for everybody, really.

0:38:260:38:29

Neighbours called the council

0:38:340:38:36

and, thanks to Mark, the house is ready for someone new to move in.

0:38:360:38:39

Fire has destroyed homes at a block of flats in Wigan town centre.

0:38:510:38:56

Many of the residents have lost absolutely everything in the blaze.

0:38:580:39:03

Furniture, pots and pans, bedding and things like that

0:39:030:39:06

can all be replaced, but it's the sentimental stuff that can't be.

0:39:060:39:10

We've got memories, but that's it. Everything else has gone.

0:39:100:39:14

Today, a week after the blaze broke out,

0:39:190:39:22

work is under way on fire-damaged homes.

0:39:220:39:25

A third of the 120 flats have been saved, but it'll be months,

0:39:270:39:32

even a year, before the rest are repaired or rebuilt.

0:39:320:39:35

Lisa Caffery, a council house lettings officer, is on site,

0:39:370:39:41

helping people who need new homes.

0:39:410:39:45

A lot of people have lost all their belongings, you know,

0:39:450:39:47

they feel that they have to start afresh and, obviously,

0:39:470:39:51

as Wigan Council, we're there to help in every way possible.

0:39:510:39:55

I believe we've helped 10-15 residents, but that's still ongoing.

0:39:550:40:01

One of those residents is Wendy Jones.

0:40:050:40:08

Today, she's come back to salvage a few belongings

0:40:080:40:11

from her fire-damaged flat.

0:40:110:40:14

It's been badly damaged by water from the fire hoses.

0:40:140:40:19

She's keen to start a new life in a new home.

0:40:190:40:21

I feel relieved that I'm getting my stuff out now,

0:40:220:40:25

but I don't really want to be here.

0:40:250:40:29

It just brings that night back.

0:40:290:40:32

Across town, Wendy Green is also looking forward to a new start.

0:40:370:40:42

A week ago, she looked on as her fire-damaged flat was demolished.

0:40:440:40:48

She lost almost everything she'd ever owned in the fire.

0:40:490:40:54

-Hello! Hiya, nice to see you again.

-How are you doing?

-Thank you.

0:40:540:40:58

Today, Wendy is picking up the keys to a new privately rented flat.

0:40:580:41:02

Thank you very much for your help, all of you ladies,

0:41:020:41:05

-you've been amazing again.

-No problem at all.

0:41:050:41:08

-You've done a great job.

-Best of luck in there.

0:41:080:41:10

Thank you, I hope I get a bit longer in this one.

0:41:100:41:12

LAUGHTER

0:41:120:41:13

See you, bye-bye. Bye.

0:41:130:41:15

'I'm feeling more positive today - a new start, new keys, a new place.'

0:41:150:41:19

I'm feeling more human again now. It was a bit rough last week.

0:41:190:41:24

Ah!

0:41:300:41:31

Home, sweet home! Another one.

0:41:330:41:37

Start again.

0:41:400:41:41

-Right, Wendy, here's your flat. Do you want to come through?

-Thank you.

0:41:430:41:47

Wendy Jones is also moving into a new flat today.

0:41:470:41:50

She's being rehomed by the council in the town centre.

0:41:500:41:54

-Smaller bedroom.

-Smaller bedroom.

0:41:540:41:56

This'll feel like home a little bit, won't it?

0:41:560:42:00

I feel a lot better now that I know I've got all my things

0:42:000:42:05

out of the old apartment and I can now start

0:42:050:42:09

to get everything in order and start to settle in my new home.

0:42:090:42:14

-Thanks very much, Wendy, nice to meet you. Bye-bye!

-Bye!

0:42:140:42:18

It could take a long time for the residents of Wharfside

0:42:200:42:24

to recover from the trauma of what happened,

0:42:240:42:27

but, thanks to the council,

0:42:270:42:28

they've taken the first steps in the right direction.

0:42:280:42:31

A few more weeks and it'll be like I've always been here.

0:42:330:42:36

Like their colleagues nationwide, council officers have been

0:42:450:42:48

dealing with the everyday and the unexpected...

0:42:480:42:52

..talking tough to get a local eyesore cleaned up...

0:42:540:42:58

I'll be honest with you now, right? This has dragged on too long.

0:42:580:43:01

It's got in a really bad state.

0:43:010:43:03

..working with volunteers to transform a local cemetery...

0:43:030:43:07

They're enjoying what they're doing

0:43:070:43:09

and the ultimate benefit is our cemetery looks much better.

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..and helping the homeless make a new start after a devastating fire.

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I've got my new home. And anything, I know they're just a phone call away.

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They've worked hard to help their residents

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when they called the council.

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The series that follows frontline officers of Wigan Council is back.

In this episode, the council's emergency team swings into action when a fire breaks out in a block of flats. Officers help neighbours living next door to a garden full of rubbish and volunteers help the council clear a historic cemetery.


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