Episode 10 Call the Council


Episode 10

Wigan's council officers crack down on shopkeepers selling alcohol to children, deal with dangerous dumped waste and try to help tired residents in a flap about a cockerel.


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Transcript


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From grappling with our daily grind...

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Why have they suddenly decided to dump all this waste

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in other people's bins?

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..to unearthing the extraordinary...

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Wow, it's Wigan's gold mask.

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..battling those blighting the streets...

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That's not acceptable, really.

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..bringing the community together...

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-Hi there.

-Hi.

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..and being on hand in troubled times.

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I've got kids. We can't even open bedroom windows cos of the noise.

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So it's affecting everything - sleep...

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You now, just day-to-day living, really.

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In this series, we follow frontline staff

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working for Wigan Council in Greater Manchester...

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I speak to the waste. I sort of say to it, like, "Come on, talk to me.

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"How have you got here?"

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..like council officers across the country

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that are keeping us free from harm...

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You're looking at really serious injury or possibly death.

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..stepping in to try and solve our problems...

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I mean, it's constant.

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You'll be told today that we will be serving notice.

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..and responding to residents...

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Much appreciate what you're doing anyway.

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..when they...

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What was the inquiry today?

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..call the council.

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Coming up...

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..council officers crack down on shopkeepers selling alcohol

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to underage children...

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Hiya. Trading Standards.

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You've just sold to a young lady who's only 16 years old.

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..deal with dangerous dumped waste...

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They've no regard. No regard for anything

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if they're just going to dump hazardous waste like this.

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..and try to help tired residents in a flap about a cockerel

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disturbing the peace.

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There's a window, you know, so it'll be 12 till four

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when you get some silence.

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But that's about it.

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COCKEREL CROWS

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The UK's local councils are responsible

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for protecting us from harm.

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They ensure that local businesses obey the laws

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laid down by national government.

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Key to this are Trading Standards officers.

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20 miles west of Manchester,

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Wigan Council's Trading Standards team is led by Julie Middlehurst.

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I think a lot of people would be surprised at just

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how much we are responsible for.

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We enforce legislation around estate agents,

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we visit second-hand shops, we regulate car dealers.

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Basically, every business that trades,

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we have some control over.

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A big piece of the work that we do is about stopping our young people

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from accessing alcohol.

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As far as the community is concerned,

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young people drinking alcohol

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can often result in antisocial behaviour.

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And we've seen a reduction in our young people who are drinking.

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You know, but we will keep going.

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Shops selling alcohol to anyone under 18 are breaking the law.

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It's the job of Trading Standards officers nationwide

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to stamp out underage sales in their borough.

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More than 30 children a day

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are admitted to hospital in the UK

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with drink-related problems.

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And around one in seven 15- to 16-year-olds admit to being

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involved in an accident or injured

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as a result of drinking alcohol.

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Wigan's Trading Standards manager Terry Gregson is all too aware

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of the effects of mixing minors and alcohol.

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What we're doing is not just about enforcing the laws

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to stop youngsters getting alcohol - there's reasons behind it.

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One - youngsters get alcohol, it can cause antisocial behaviour.

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And also their own health.

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Because if they do drink regularly at that age,

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then it's going to do no good for their livers

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and what have you in the future.

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So it's about the local community being safer and quieter for

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the youngsters and residents of the place,

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and also the long-term health of the youngsters themselves.

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Following tip-offs from Wigan residents

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about a number of local shops selling alcohol to children,

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Terry has recruited a 16-year-old volunteer.

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Today, she'll be putting the shops' sales policies to the test

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under Terry's watchful eye.

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If they are selling, then we get a sale, then obviously,

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there will be a formal action taken after the event.

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The council has granted the shops their licence to sell alcohol,

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and Terry and the Trading Standards team have encouraged them

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to ask anyone they think is under 25 to prove their age.

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The officers are now going to walk with the volunteer toward

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the shop, and the volunteer will go in the shop and try to purchase.

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If she hasn't purchased, we can carry on to the next one.

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But if the shops fail to follow the rules

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and sell alcohol to Terry's underage test purchaser,

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the goods will be used as evidence in any possible prosecution.

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-No sale?

-Yeah, that's right.

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They asked for ID? Good.

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They did what they should do, they asked for ID.

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She hasn't got any, so they refused the sale.

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It's a good start, but Terry and the team have a long list of shops

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that have been complained about.

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They asked for ID again? Never mind. Right. OK.

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And Terry intends to put all of them to the test.

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Next one.

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It's hard to predict what goes on with these, really.

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There's a lot of factors involved.

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And, you know, sometimes we think

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we're never going to get sales and you get lots.

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Other days, you've get lots of complaints,

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like we have today, and so far none.

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If Terry and his team aren't sold any alcohol,

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they won't have any evidence to support

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the complaints they've received

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and won't be able to take any legal action against the shopkeepers.

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But just as it seems the calls to the council have been made in vain,

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there's a sale.

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Yes, we've got a sale.

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We have a sale.

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What is it?

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Smirnoff Ice. Right, OK.

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-So, who was it who sold it?

-A gentleman.

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-Was there only one person in?

-Yeah.

-Right, OK.

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All right, well, we'll go back and see now.

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Right, let's go back and tag it.

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The booze will be used as evidence.

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If there's a court case,

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the shopkeeper could lose his licence and face a £5,000 fine.

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Coming up, Terry and his team confront the shopkeeper

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who's broken the law.

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Hiya. Trading Standards.

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You've just sold to a young lady who's only 16 years old.

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As well as taking on unlawful traders,

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local councils are also called upon to keep noise in our neighbourhoods

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to an acceptable level.

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Keeping a lid on antisocial behaviour in Wigan is Pete Rutter.

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My job covers quite a large remit - noise complaints, barking dogs,

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music from neighbours' properties.

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We also get neighbour disputes in, neighbours not getting on,

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boundary issues, that kind of thing.

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Every year, councils in the UK receive more than 100,000 complaints

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about noise in residential areas.

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2,500 people are issued with formal warning notices.

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And officers like Pete will help to secure around 50 convictions

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if the noise still doesn't stop.

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This morning, Pete's on the trail of an unseen menace.

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It's been rousing residents in the suburban streets of Wigan

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at the crack of dawn.

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COCKEREL CROWS

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When they've called the council to complain,

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Pete has been taking their calls.

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We've had reports of a cockerel in a residential area.

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It's cock-a-doodling, mainly in the morning.

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But it's persistently, every morning, early hours,

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which you can imagine...

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So it's not going down well with the residents in the area.

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One tired resident wishing this bird would cock-a-doodle-don't

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is Graeme Higgins.

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-Well, it's...

-COCKEREL CROWS

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I mean, it's constant.

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And it's the early mornings that really are the sort of

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the biggest frustration.

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Because it will start really any time from 4.30 in the morning...

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and, you know, that's early by anybody's standards.

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Probably the latest we've heard it has been about 11, 11.30 at night

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and probably the earliest, I think probably about four, 4.30,

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So there's a window, you know, sort of between 12 till four

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when you get some silence, but that's about it.

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Cockerels have been part of the English countryside

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for centuries, but their notoriously noisy nature

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made them unpopular in more urban areas.

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Until now.

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Half a million UK households now keep chickens,

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almost ten times as many as there were

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at the beginning of the millennium.

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Where there's chickens, there's cockerels

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and where there's cockerels, there's complaints.

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One council has reported a fourfold increase in complaints

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about roosters since 2010.

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Wigan is the latest borough to fall foul of this growing trend.

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We get a lot of noise nuisance cases.

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The majority of them are the loud music, loud radio, dogs barking...

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In particular with dogs, there are interventions we can suggest,

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with regard to dog training.

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It's a little different with a cockerel.

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I'm not quite sure of any cockerel trainings we have in the borough.

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Whether it is canines are cockerels, Pete has to investigate.

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He's tried to talk to the cockerel's owner

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to ask him to remove it without success.

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As a result,

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he's asked the complainants to keep a diary of the disturbances.

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When you look at investigating noise nuisance, you look at three things,

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and that's severity, duration and frequency.

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So, in a nutshell, sort of how bad it is,

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how long it lasts for and how often it happens.

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We've received diary sheets to indicate

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the times that it's happening

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that suggested that it's happening at sort of 4am onwards,

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which obviously could be construed as a nuisance

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if it's happening persistently.

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Having collected the cockerel's

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sleep-deprived neighbours' noise diaries,

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they suggested that the disturbances were frequent enough

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to warrant installing sound-recording equipment

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in one of their houses.

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Well, I'm just connecting all the wires at the second.

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This is the microphone that will pick up all the recordings

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over a period of eight days.

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This will let us determine whether or not

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there's a statutory noise nuisance occurring.

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If Pete decides the noise can legally be labelled a nuisance,

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the cockerel's owner will be given three weeks

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to stop the rowdy rooster disturbing his neighbours.

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If he doesn't, he'll face a fine or even a conviction.

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So, all the gentleman needs to do

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when he hears the cockerel next door is push this button.

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It will light red, which will show that the recording has begun,

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and that will record for three minutes.

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Still to come...

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..will Pete's recordings mean this bird has to be re-homed?

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COCKEREL CROWS

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COCKEREL CROWS

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COCKEREL CROWS

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The work local authorities do

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is partly funded by the council tax we pay,

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so many of us have an opinion on whether they spend it wisely.

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I think that city councils should maybe look into plans of developing

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the transport a little bit more in the area.

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I ride a bicycle as well sometimes, and I think it would be nice to have

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a bit more selection of cycle routes.

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Better roads that need dealing with, that need tackling with,

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that have been that way for years and years.

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And when you're paying your council tax,

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you wonder why it's not been dealt with.

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I think the council could improve

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recycling, so for instance,

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we can't do plastic recycling,

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which I think all councils should do.

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So there are bits that are missing,

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but on the whole, they do try to do their best.

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The council department tasked with

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keeping our communities clean, tidy and safe

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is Environmental Services.

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When fly-tippers strike,

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environmental enforcement officers like Mark Farrimond's job

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is to find and possibly prosecute the culprits.

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After 37 years working for the council,

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Mark still loves nothing more than a rummage through rubbish.

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I like the investigation side of it.

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I get to a job and I sort of say to it, like, "Come on, talk to me.

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"How have you got here?"

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So, I'm sort of surveying the land,

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sort of looking for tyre tracks, anything that can sort of say,

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"Right, they've come from this direction."

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So, yeah, I really do like that, the investigation side of it.

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Yeah, it appeals to me a lot.

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I sort of speak to the waste to sort of...

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You know, as I'm going along, looking for clues and things.

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It might sound a bit sad, but that's just me.

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That's how I deal with it.

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There are more than three quarters

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of a million reports of fly-tipping

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in the UK every year.

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It costs local authorities

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over £45 million to clear up.

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But it's not just ordinary

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domestic waste that's dumped on our highways and byways.

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Today, Mark is responding to a call to the council

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about some fly-tipped waste that's potentially lethal.

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I've had a report to say that there's some asbestos

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been fly-tipped in some drums.

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And it's this plot of land here, at the side.

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There we are, see?

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Now banned in the UK, asbestos was first widely used

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during the rebuilding of Britain after World War II.

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If inhaled, it can cause lung cancer.

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And in the UK, more than 2,500 people a year

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die from asbestos-related diseases.

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It's vital Mark acts fast today.

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It's corrugated roofing asbestos.

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If, for instance, it was a dry atmosphere

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and maybe a bit of wind got up, then, yeah, the particles,

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you wouldn't want to be stood around it.

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But when it's damp like this in the atmosphere,

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it's probably better for us to be here,

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then it's not giving off dust.

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If we're not disturbing it, which we're not, then we're safe.

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Mark's been to this site before.

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Secluded and easy to access,

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it's a popular place for Mark's unscrupulous fly-tipping foe.

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They've no regard. No regard for anything

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if they're just going to dump hazardous waste like this.

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And it is in the middle of Wigan, not far from the town centre.

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It's got a lot of passing trade, passing people,

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there's schools nearby, there's shops nearby.

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Because it's so dangerous,

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asbestos has to be disposed of properly by a specialist.

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But this costs around £50 per square metre,

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so if profit margins are tight, it sometimes gets dumped.

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It's annoying.

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They've obviously done a job

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and then just disposed of it for nothing.

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That's the problem. You get opportunists who do cheap jobs

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and dispose of the hazardous waste cheaply.

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Now the cost of clearing this waste will fall to Wiganers.

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The problem with this fly-tip is it'll come down

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to Wigan Council tax rate payers, really.

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As in the disposal, the cost, it all goes on...

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That's basically what happens.

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You know, we get a budget to work with,

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and it'll come out of that budget.

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What we'll have to do in this respect is

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we'll have to get on to a private contractor

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and ask him to give us a price for getting it moved.

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As well as getting the dangerous waste moved,

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Mark needs to find out who dumped it.

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If caught, the offenders could receive a prison sentence

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of up to five years, a £50,000 fine and the bill for the clear-up.

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So Mark needs to find evidence that could result in a prosecution.

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Looking for any packaging that may be around.

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And he may have a lead.

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I'm looking at that label, and there's a possible link

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that we could use that as a possible line of inquiry.

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I may have to do some digging on the internet

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to see if there's anything like that around here

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with those labels on and things.

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But it does give us, you know, a positive line.

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Coming up, Mark's investigation goes global.

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The label that was on the drums is from Brazil.

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I'm hoping that it may lead us

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to perhaps somebody in the Northwest or very local to us.

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I like to leave no stone unturned.

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From fly-tipping to shopkeepers breaking the law,

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Terry Gregson of the Trading Standard's team

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has received complaints about shops

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selling alcohol to children under 18.

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They've hit the streets using a 16-year-old volunteer to put

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a series of shops to the test.

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And one failed.

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Yes, we've got a sale.

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We have a sale.

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Having bagged and tagged the booze,

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Terry and his Trading Standards colleague Ian Kelsall

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need to confront the shopkeeper who sold it.

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Hiya. Trading standards. Mr Gregson.

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That's my colleague, Mr Kelsall.

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You've just sold to a young lady who's only 16 years old.

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So we need to take a few details from you.

0:18:190:18:21

I did have a bit of a doubt.

0:18:210:18:23

When I first looked at her, she looked like 18 to me, or over.

0:18:230:18:26

Then after I served her, I had a bit of doubt about it then.

0:18:260:18:29

-But by the time I served it...

-Why did you not stop in between?

0:18:290:18:33

-I should've double checked, asked for her ID...

-Is that her?

0:18:330:18:36

Yeah, that was the girl.

0:18:360:18:38

But obviously, any doubt, you shouldn't sell, obviously.

0:18:380:18:41

When I looked at her first... When I looked at her...

0:18:410:18:43

As well as asking anyone suspected of being under 18

0:18:430:18:47

to prove their age,

0:18:470:18:48

the shopkeeper should be keeping up-to-date records

0:18:480:18:51

of any times he's refused to sell alcohol.

0:18:510:18:54

It's not a legal requirement, but it is proof of good practise.

0:18:540:18:58

Do you want to get the refusal book out for me?

0:18:580:19:01

OK, so the most recent one's on the top, is that right?

0:19:030:19:06

-Yeah.

-All right.

0:19:060:19:07

Your last refusal was...2010.

0:19:070:19:12

They haven't been used in the last five years, have they?

0:19:150:19:18

With no entries in his refusals book for the past five years,

0:19:180:19:22

Terry and Ian only have this trader's word

0:19:220:19:25

that he's following the rules.

0:19:250:19:26

-It might be an idea from now on to start using the book.

-Yeah.

-OK?

0:19:260:19:29

It can be difficult sometimes, but it helps.

0:19:290:19:32

It's no excuse, but I've been working long hours as well.

0:19:320:19:34

It's like, I've not got...

0:19:340:19:36

One of them staff girls that hasn't turned up today.

0:19:360:19:38

It's my excuse. I've been running out the back, stocking it up.

0:19:380:19:41

It's not... It shouldn't be... That's not the excuse.

0:19:410:19:44

-I had a doubt, but I had it too late.

-OK.

0:19:440:19:46

From now on, if you've got any doubts,

0:19:460:19:48

-don't make a sale.

-Ask for ID.

0:19:480:19:50

-If they haven't got ID, you don't sell it.

-They don't get served.

0:19:500:19:53

Terry and Ian now need to arrange a date for a formal interview

0:19:530:19:56

at the council with the shopkeeper and his wife

0:19:560:19:59

to discuss their sales practices.

0:19:590:20:01

I'll say what's going to happen next, OK?

0:20:010:20:04

This form here, I'll ask you to give that to your wife,

0:20:040:20:07

-cos she's the license holder.

-Yes, she'll be in next week.

0:20:070:20:10

I want yourself and your wife to come here,

0:20:100:20:14

ring the number on the bottom and arrange an interview.

0:20:140:20:18

And you'll come into the offices, OK?

0:20:180:20:20

And we'll interview your wife and yourself,

0:20:200:20:23

and you can explain to us what normally goes on in the shop

0:20:230:20:26

and the reasons behind why the sale took place.

0:20:260:20:29

All right? Where in the meantime,

0:20:290:20:30

-if you have any doubt, stop the sale.

-OK.

0:20:300:20:32

If they look under 25, ask for ID.

0:20:320:20:34

OK? And record it in your book when you refuse them.

0:20:340:20:38

It's a result for Terry and his team.

0:20:380:20:40

The upcoming interview will decide this trader's fate.

0:20:400:20:44

He isn't being as vigilant as he should be.

0:20:440:20:46

You know, he had suspicions and yet he still, you know, sold.

0:20:460:20:51

He knows what to do and he just didn't do it.

0:20:510:20:53

So, you know, he's been very silly.

0:20:530:20:55

So it's unfortunate, but, you know, now we've got to,

0:20:550:20:59

you know, interview him formally and see what action we're going to take.

0:20:590:21:03

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

0:21:130:21:18

..from the day our births are registered

0:21:190:21:21

to the day our loved ones bid us goodbye.

0:21:210:21:23

David Makinson's job at Wigan Council

0:21:260:21:28

is dealing with the dearly departed.

0:21:280:21:30

I didn't think I'd be a gravedigger.

0:21:300:21:33

Actually, I wanted to be a bus driver when I were a kid.

0:21:330:21:36

But it's a very important job.

0:21:360:21:39

You've got to treat every funeral as though it was one of your own,

0:21:390:21:43

and do it...do it right.

0:21:430:21:45

There are over 15,000 cemeteries in the UK

0:21:470:21:50

conducting up to 150,000 burials every year.

0:21:500:21:55

David has been digging graves in Wigan for 23 years.

0:21:550:21:58

Different cemeteries, different soil.

0:21:590:22:01

Here, there's a lot of sand here, as you can see.

0:22:010:22:04

Plenty of moles in this cemetery.

0:22:040:22:06

-They love it in here.

-HE CHUCKLES

0:22:060:22:08

It's ten in the morning,

0:22:100:22:12

and David's preparing a grave for a funeral tomorrow.

0:22:120:22:15

Wigan's Hindley Cemetery was founded in 1818,

0:22:170:22:21

when mechanical diggers were a distant pipedream.

0:22:210:22:24

Sometimes you have to make do to get them in.

0:22:240:22:26

It's why the plots are so narrow in the old ones,

0:22:260:22:28

cos they've only been dug with a spade, so...

0:22:280:22:31

But even modern machinery

0:22:340:22:35

and an expert eye are no match for Mother Nature.

0:22:350:22:38

And today's grave is in one of the wettest parts of the cemetery.

0:22:380:22:42

More...more clay here than soil.

0:22:420:22:45

Well, there's a lot of sludge here. It will be wet on here.

0:22:450:22:49

It's always went on here.

0:22:490:22:51

Look at Neil's feet, how sludgy it is.

0:22:520:22:57

The clock is ticking towards tomorrow's funeral,

0:22:570:23:00

but the grave is getting wetter by the minute.

0:23:000:23:02

..all the water there.

0:23:020:23:04

Plenty of bubbling. Can't you hear it? Bubbling?

0:23:060:23:09

David's got less than 24 hours to get this grave dry,

0:23:100:23:14

presentable and ready for tomorrow's funeral.

0:23:140:23:17

The pressure's on.

0:23:180:23:20

But at another council cemetery in Lower Ince,

0:23:230:23:26

home to the borough's only crematorium,

0:23:260:23:29

things are much more sedate.

0:23:290:23:30

Mark Birchall has been part of the council's

0:23:330:23:35

Bereavement Services team for almost 20 years.

0:23:350:23:39

He's helped hundreds of people say goodbye to their loved ones.

0:23:390:23:42

If you're being cremated and you're a Wiganer...

0:23:420:23:46

when you meet your maker, you've got to come my way, haven't you?

0:23:460:23:50

Around 70% of us now choose to be cremated rather than buried.

0:23:500:23:54

It's a process that fascinates people Mark meets.

0:23:540:23:58

When I go on holiday, and you can be sat at bars, stuff like that,

0:23:580:24:01

and you get chatting to people

0:24:010:24:02

and the usual things you do, isn't it?

0:24:020:24:04

"Oh, what do you do for a living?"

0:24:040:24:06

The minute they find out, everybody's intrigued, aren't they?

0:24:060:24:08

All the questions start.

0:24:080:24:10

"Do you cremate three or four people at once?"

0:24:100:24:13

"Do you get your own ashes back?"

0:24:130:24:15

People believe things and old wives' tales.

0:24:150:24:18

What I usually say to people, when my dad passed away,

0:24:180:24:21

he was cremated here. Now, if I wasn't going to get his ashes back,

0:24:210:24:25

I wouldn't have had him cremated here, would I?

0:24:250:24:27

You know what I mean? It seems to appease people a bit, that.

0:24:270:24:29

Sometimes I think I better to tell them

0:24:290:24:31

I'm a road sweeper or something like that, you know what I mean?

0:24:310:24:34

I'd probably get a bit less grief then, wouldn't I?

0:24:340:24:37

You know what I mean?

0:24:370:24:39

Mark's midway through his first cremation of the day.

0:24:390:24:43

But no two cremations take the same time.

0:24:430:24:45

It depends on the size of the person, doesn't it?

0:24:450:24:48

You know what I mean? Chris would be two hours.

0:24:480:24:50

-HE CHUCKLES

-I would've been two hours last year,

0:24:500:24:52

but now I've lost all my weight, I'm an hour-and-a-half man.

0:24:520:24:55

HE LAUGHS

0:24:550:24:56

By law, officers like Mark must cremate bodies on the same day

0:24:560:25:00

as the funeral service.

0:25:000:25:02

Today, he's running to schedule.

0:25:020:25:04

It is the end of cremation.

0:25:040:25:05

It was an hour and 50 minutes. Just waiting for safety checks.

0:25:050:25:10

Once that kicks in, it's safe for the raking down.

0:25:100:25:14

Mark manages an average of six cremations a day.

0:25:170:25:21

But the following morning,

0:25:210:25:23

gravediggers David and Neil are still struggling

0:25:230:25:25

to get one grave ready in time for the funeral later in the day.

0:25:250:25:29

There's a lot of water in there.

0:25:290:25:31

We'll definitely need the pump on that, Neil.

0:25:310:25:33

Right in.

0:25:440:25:46

With just an hour to go before the mourners arrive,

0:25:470:25:50

David's pumping water from the saturated grave.

0:25:500:25:53

But there's another unexpected hitch.

0:25:560:25:59

As David and Neil get the water under control,

0:25:590:26:03

today's funeral director calls to tell them

0:26:030:26:05

that rather than a standard-sized coffin,

0:26:050:26:09

the deceased will be buried in a much bigger casket.

0:26:090:26:12

The grave they've dug is too small.

0:26:120:26:14

We've got to dig it again and make it wider.

0:26:150:26:18

With it being a casket, it's the same width all the way down now,

0:26:180:26:22

where as before, when it were a coffin,

0:26:220:26:24

the widest part would've been here at the head

0:26:240:26:26

and then you could have it narrower at the feet.

0:26:260:26:28

With it being a casket, it's the same width there as it is here.

0:26:280:26:31

Coming up, David and Neil face a race against time

0:26:330:26:36

to provide a fitting farewell for a family's loved one.

0:26:360:26:40

We've got about three quarters of an hour now before the funeral comes.

0:26:400:26:44

Three weeks ago, Terry and the Trading Standards team

0:26:570:27:01

caught a shopkeeper selling alcohol to an underage volunteer.

0:27:010:27:04

Hiya, Trading Standards.

0:27:040:27:06

You've just sold to a young lady who's only 16 years old.

0:27:060:27:10

Now Terry is preparing to formally interview

0:27:120:27:14

the shopkeeper under caution.

0:27:140:27:16

This is a serious offense of selling alcohol to youngsters.

0:27:180:27:21

We've got to sort of try and establish from the interview

0:27:210:27:23

whether or not it has been a genuine mistake or whether there's

0:27:230:27:27

a bit of deliberate action here, or whether they don't care about it.

0:27:270:27:30

So we have some sort of quite serious questions we've asked them,

0:27:300:27:33

under caution, to see if we can suss and sort out

0:27:330:27:37

whether or not these are...

0:27:370:27:39

somebody's made a silly mistake, one-off,

0:27:390:27:41

or whether there's a pattern of behaviour here.

0:27:410:27:43

Obviously, once we've done the interview,

0:27:430:27:45

that will decide whether or not we prosecute, or not, in this case.

0:27:450:27:49

You know, a prosecution could affect him the rest of his life.

0:27:490:27:52

You know, that one-off, silly mistake,

0:27:520:27:55

they could lose their alcohol license.

0:27:550:27:57

In which case, that would possibly shut the shop down.

0:27:570:27:59

Whilst Terry has a long list of questions to ask,

0:28:060:28:09

for the shopkeeper,

0:28:090:28:10

the interview is his chance to put forward his side of the story.

0:28:100:28:13

Basically, he felt that the volunteer looked 18,

0:28:170:28:21

although he admitted himself he should have asked for ID.

0:28:210:28:25

He was 50-50 whether to do it, and he didn't, and he should have done.

0:28:250:28:28

And he's learnt from that.

0:28:280:28:30

So in this case, we decided that what we'll do,

0:28:300:28:33

we'll do what we call a simple caution,

0:28:330:28:35

which isn't a prosecution, which is a formal record of the offense

0:28:350:28:38

that has been committed by him, and that will be kept on record.

0:28:380:28:41

By doing the formal interview with him,

0:28:410:28:43

he now fully understands the seriousness of the case

0:28:430:28:46

and that he could've gone to court to we could have prosecuted him.

0:28:460:28:49

However, we feel it's more appropriate to do

0:28:490:28:51

the simple caution this time.

0:28:510:28:52

But he still realises it's a formal process.

0:28:520:28:55

And if he did sell again, then it would end up in court,

0:28:550:28:57

no doubt about it.

0:28:570:28:58

Across the borough, council officer Pete Rutter

0:29:150:29:19

is hot on the trail of a crowing cockerel

0:29:190:29:21

that's causing noise nuisance in the neighbourhood.

0:29:210:29:24

COCKEREL CROWS

0:29:260:29:29

It will start, really, any time from 4.30 in the morning

0:29:290:29:32

and, you know, that's early by anybody's standards.

0:29:320:29:37

Pete's installed sound equipment to record the rowdy rooster,

0:29:380:29:42

and if it's as bad as residents say,

0:29:420:29:44

he'll insist the owner re-homes it.

0:29:440:29:47

Over a period of eight days, this will let us determine

0:29:470:29:51

whether or not there's a statutory noise nuisance occurring.

0:29:510:29:54

Today, Pete's reviewing the recordings whilst residents

0:29:540:29:57

wait to see if their early-morning wake-up call can be stopped.

0:29:570:30:01

We've got roughly about 8 1/2 hours of three-minute recordings...

0:30:010:30:07

..to listen to. So we've been quite thorough.

0:30:090:30:12

It's a painstaking task,

0:30:120:30:14

but if he's going to help the complainants,

0:30:140:30:16

Pete needs to listen carefully.

0:30:160:30:18

COCKEREL CROWS

0:30:180:30:21

COCKEREL CROWS

0:30:230:30:26

COCKEREL CROWS

0:30:270:30:30

COCKEREL CROWS

0:30:310:30:33

Well, we're looking to establish severity, duration and frequency

0:30:380:30:41

when we listen to the recordings.

0:30:410:30:43

So it's essentially how often it's happening,

0:30:430:30:46

how long it lasts and how loud it is.

0:30:460:30:48

It's...it's quite persistent, we'll say, at the moment.

0:30:490:30:53

COCKEREL CROWS

0:30:530:30:56

It's quite a heavy residential area, where the cockerel is.

0:30:560:31:01

And this gentleman isn't the only complainant we've got.

0:31:010:31:04

COCKEREL CROWS

0:31:040:31:06

I personally wouldn't want one next door to me.

0:31:060:31:09

Because I like me bed, and I'm not a morning person.

0:31:090:31:12

And cockerels are, so we wouldn't mix, I'm afraid.

0:31:120:31:15

After listening to over five hours of the recordings,

0:31:190:31:22

Pete's heard enough.

0:31:220:31:25

Normally what I'd do is I'd listen to the entire

0:31:250:31:27

bulk of the recordings and then make a decision,

0:31:270:31:31

but with there being so many, I'm just conscious of time.

0:31:310:31:34

And what I've already listened to has made my mind up.

0:31:340:31:37

So I've had a chat with enforcement

0:31:370:31:39

and we'll be serving a Section 80 on him next week.

0:31:390:31:42

The Section 80 notice will give the owner three weeks

0:31:440:31:47

to re-home the rooster and bring an end to the racket.

0:31:470:31:51

Time to share the news with resident Graeme.

0:31:510:31:54

-Good evening, Peter from the Safety Environment team.

-Hi.

0:31:550:31:58

-Are you OK?

-Yeah. Do you want to come in?

0:31:580:31:59

-Yeah, thank you very much. Cheers.

-Straight through.

0:31:590:32:03

So we've actually had noise kits in the other complainant's house

0:32:030:32:05

to record the disturbances.

0:32:050:32:07

And what I have listened to,

0:32:070:32:09

I'm confident that this is statutory noise nuisance.

0:32:090:32:11

-COCKEREL CROWS

-Because it's that obvious.

0:32:110:32:13

-Because it's that obvious.

-There it is, right on cue.

0:32:130:32:16

Right on cue. No, of course.

0:32:160:32:17

Although he's heard it, Pete still hasn't seen the cockerel,

0:32:170:32:20

so he's keen to get closer to where it's being kept.

0:32:200:32:23

-He's got it at the bottom of the garden.

-Right.

0:32:230:32:25

So I think it's probably closer to us than it is to him.

0:32:250:32:29

-Yeah.

-So he may not necessarily see it as a noise issue.

-Yeah.

0:32:290:32:33

-But obviously, we... In this house, we sleep at the back.

-Right.

-So...

0:32:330:32:36

It's a nuisance to you.

0:32:360:32:38

From sort of like 4.30 the morning, it's off, you know.

0:32:380:32:40

Particularly this time of year. Cos obviously it reacts...

0:32:400:32:43

-It works off light, doesn't it? I think.

-Right.

0:32:430:32:45

You know more than I do about cockerels, I don't know.

0:32:450:32:48

I think people's idea of cockerels is you hear them in the morning.

0:32:480:32:51

-They're a wake-up call, aren't they?

-Yeah.

0:32:510:32:53

The problem... And that is certainly the case,

0:32:530:32:55

but it's a very early morning call and it just keeps going.

0:32:550:32:58

-Yeah.

-I mean it just keeps going. It doesn't stop.

0:32:580:33:01

The noise recordings that I've gathered suggest that as well.

0:33:010:33:04

-That it's ongoing throughout the day.

-Yeah, it is.

0:33:040:33:06

And that's, you know... Exactly.

0:33:060:33:08

-I've listened to the early stuff first of all.

-Right.

0:33:080:33:12

On a number of days. And then I've started to go through a day.

0:33:120:33:16

-The gentleman that has recorded it has been quite thorough.

-OK.

-So...

0:33:160:33:20

We weren't sure cos we were filling in the forms and, obviously,

0:33:200:33:23

-it was very repetitive.

-Yeah.

-Cos that's all it does.

0:33:230:33:26

-It doesn't do anything else.

-Yeah.

0:33:260:33:28

So we were filling it in, thinking, "Is this really...?"

0:33:280:33:31

Though the sheets may seem a little onerous to yourself at the time,

0:33:310:33:34

they're quite a powerful tool we can use in court if necessary.

0:33:340:33:37

Well, I hope it doesn't come to that. I hope it's just a sensible...

0:33:370:33:40

Well, as I say, what we'll do today is we'll knock on...

0:33:400:33:42

Cos I haven't met him face-to-face yet,

0:33:420:33:44

so I'll just have to see what his take is on it all.

0:33:440:33:46

But he'll be told today that we will be serving notice

0:33:460:33:49

in about seven days' time.

0:33:490:33:51

-OK.

-Yeah, thanks very much indeed.

0:33:510:33:53

-If you've got any further problems, just give me a call.

-Will do.

0:33:530:33:56

-Thank you very much.

-With residents reassured,

0:33:560:33:58

Pete now needs to deliver the news to the offender's owner.

0:33:580:34:01

It doesn't look like there's anybody home.

0:34:080:34:11

Informing the cockerel's owner could be easier said than done.

0:34:110:34:14

But if the cockerel isn't re-homed within the next three weeks,

0:34:140:34:18

Pete will have to start court proceedings.

0:34:180:34:21

It's really important that I need to speak to him now,

0:34:210:34:23

make him aware of the situation.

0:34:230:34:25

Environmental enforcement officer Mark Farrimond is investigating

0:34:370:34:41

a potentially dangerous case of fly-tipped asbestos.

0:34:410:34:45

If we're not disturbing it, which we're not, then we're safe.

0:34:450:34:47

But if, for instance, it was, you know, a dry atmosphere

0:34:470:34:52

and maybe a bit of wind got up,

0:34:520:34:55

then, yeah, the particles, you wouldn't want to be stood around it.

0:34:550:34:59

It's a technical one.

0:35:020:35:03

Mark got the dangerous waste removed within 24 hours.

0:35:030:35:08

And now he needs to track down the tipper via information

0:35:080:35:11

he's gleaned from the waste.

0:35:110:35:13

The label that was on the drums, and it's from Brazil.

0:35:130:35:17

So we'll start with that first.

0:35:170:35:19

I like to leave no stone unturned.

0:35:220:35:24

..they're in the office tomorrow or not, that's the problem.

0:35:240:35:26

The beaches of Brazil are a long way from the mean streets of Wigan.

0:35:260:35:30

There's no suggestion the Brazilian company originally owning the drums

0:35:320:35:36

had anything to do with the asbestos or fly-tipping.

0:35:360:35:40

The barrels were used to import foodstuffs,

0:35:400:35:43

and Mark contacted them in the hope that they could help find out

0:35:430:35:46

who did dump the waste.

0:35:460:35:48

Unfortunately, in my e-mail, I did say that I was looking

0:35:480:35:51

because there had been a deposit of waste,

0:35:510:35:53

but obviously it's got lost in translation.

0:35:530:35:56

And that... I'm under the impression they think I want to buy some.

0:35:560:36:00

It's one that's got away from us.

0:36:030:36:05

You know, we'll just have to grin and bear it and walk away from that.

0:36:050:36:09

Mark's inquiries will not lead to

0:36:100:36:12

one of the 2,000 successful prosecutions carried out

0:36:120:36:16

by local councils every year.

0:36:160:36:18

But his investigation has had one positive outcome.

0:36:200:36:24

Hidden from public view,

0:36:240:36:25

the site has been a popular hot spot for fly-tippers.

0:36:250:36:28

What was happening was, because there was nothing here at all,

0:36:280:36:31

which should've been a fence,

0:36:310:36:33

and that's obviously gone on over the years,

0:36:330:36:35

there was easy access to the land.

0:36:350:36:37

So, they would drive in on here with their vehicles

0:36:370:36:40

and then just tipping off.

0:36:400:36:42

With it not being overlooked by anything,

0:36:420:36:44

it's...you know, it's pretty hidden,

0:36:440:36:46

so it was just a free-for-all, basically.

0:36:460:36:50

But now, in a bid to put a stop to illegal dumping here

0:36:500:36:53

once and for all, the council is swinging into action.

0:36:530:36:56

We've put the blocks in. It's to prevent vehicle access.

0:36:560:37:00

We call it target hardening.

0:37:000:37:02

Just bring it back this way a little bit. That's all right.

0:37:070:37:10

Target hardened, it's a job well done.

0:37:120:37:15

But sadly, fighting fly-tippers will be an ongoing battle

0:37:150:37:18

for officers like Mark.

0:37:180:37:20

It annoys me personally, especially when you get hazardous waste dumped.

0:37:200:37:24

There's no need for it at all.

0:37:240:37:25

If people are doing jobs

0:37:260:37:28

and they're factoring in how much the budget is for doing the job,

0:37:280:37:31

well, factor in disposing of it correctly.

0:37:310:37:33

Some people are just on the make.

0:37:330:37:36

It's just one of the blights of being a fly-tipping investigator,

0:37:360:37:39

I suppose.

0:37:390:37:41

At Lower Ince Cemetery, cremation technician Mark

0:37:500:37:53

has just finished his second funeral of the day.

0:37:530:37:56

Well, John, see you again. Take care. Thanks a lot.

0:37:560:37:59

Once the mourners leave,

0:38:010:38:03

Mark's job is to make sure the deceased's cremated ashes

0:38:030:38:06

are returned to their loved ones without a hitch.

0:38:060:38:09

To do this, he uses a ticketing system.

0:38:090:38:11

So, the ticket stays with the ashes everywhere they go,

0:38:190:38:22

so, you know, you're only getting your own ashes back.

0:38:220:38:24

So that goes from there into this cremulator.

0:38:240:38:28

They get tipped in there, and the ticket then goes onto there.

0:38:280:38:31

The cremulator turns any large ashes into fine powder.

0:38:350:38:39

But not everything that comes out of it goes to the loved ones.

0:38:390:38:42

Obviously, the coffins are constructed

0:38:420:38:44

and everything is stapled, screwed together,

0:38:440:38:47

so we get them all out.

0:38:470:38:49

They end up in the cremulator and we fish them out.

0:38:490:38:52

What we do with them, we bury them in consecrated ground.

0:38:520:38:56

Just so it's like... You know, it's done properly.

0:38:580:39:01

Mark's got everything under control at Lower Ince Crematorium.

0:39:010:39:05

But over at Hindley Cemetery,

0:39:050:39:07

gravediggers David and Neil have been grappling

0:39:070:39:10

with a grave that's too small.

0:39:100:39:12

Well, that's better.

0:39:120:39:14

That's 2m.

0:39:200:39:21

Having widened the grave to accommodate the larger casket,

0:39:240:39:28

the pair have hit another problem.

0:39:280:39:30

With the funeral due to start in less than half an hour,

0:39:300:39:33

water has begun to seep back into the grave.

0:39:330:39:36

And David isn't happy.

0:39:360:39:38

Neil's gone to get some wood mulch.

0:39:380:39:40

We'll give it another scrape with the bucket

0:39:400:39:43

and then he'll put wood mulch on the bottom,

0:39:430:39:44

it soaks a bit of water up then.

0:39:440:39:46

Looks a bit better than it being like watery, sludgy.

0:39:460:39:49

With just minutes to spare, David is finally satisfied.

0:39:510:39:55

It looks a lot better now, doesn't it?

0:39:550:39:58

The funeral can go ahead as planned.

0:40:000:40:02

Another busy day draws to a close for Mark in Lower Ince crematorium

0:40:170:40:22

and David and Neil in Hindley Cemetery.

0:40:220:40:25

Once we've covered the coffin, we'll get the machine then.

0:40:250:40:28

Fill the rest of it in with the machine once we cover the coffin up.

0:40:280:40:31

And that's us.

0:40:410:40:42

From start to finish.

0:40:420:40:44

Across town, Officer Pete Rutter

0:40:550:40:58

has been hot on the trail of an antisocial cockerel

0:40:580:41:01

who's been rousing residents in the early hours.

0:41:010:41:04

COCKEREL CROWS

0:41:040:41:06

Probably the latest we've heard it has been about 11, 11.30 at night,

0:41:060:41:10

and probably the earliest, I think probably about four, 4.30.

0:41:100:41:13

So there's a window, you know, sort of between 12 till 4

0:41:130:41:17

when you get some silence.

0:41:170:41:19

But that's about it.

0:41:190:41:20

Pete installed noise recording equipment

0:41:210:41:24

and then delivered the cockerel's owner a legal notice

0:41:240:41:27

giving him three weeks to remove the noisy bird.

0:41:270:41:30

Now, just a few weeks later, quiet has returned to the neighbourhood,

0:41:330:41:38

much to resident Graeme's relief.

0:41:380:41:40

You might...you may notice it's a little bit quieter

0:41:400:41:44

than the last time you were here.

0:41:440:41:46

So, how long has it been quiet for you?

0:41:460:41:48

Well, I think over the last sort of week.

0:41:480:41:51

But it's just gone back to normal. I mean, it's, you know, it's...

0:41:510:41:54

It's nice to be able to wake up with the alarm in the morning

0:41:540:41:57

rather than getting woken by a cockerel,

0:41:570:41:58

cos there's a big difference between sort of 4.30 and 6.30.

0:41:580:42:02

Right. Yeah, absolutely.

0:42:020:42:03

So that's been probably the most noticeable change.

0:42:030:42:05

It just means we can use the garden again.

0:42:050:42:07

Cos it was getting to the point

0:42:070:42:09

where it was literally from first thing in the morning,

0:42:090:42:12

it was going on right throughout the day.

0:42:120:42:15

And it may sound quite nice, a cockerel,

0:42:150:42:18

the first couple times you hear it,

0:42:180:42:20

but when it's going off every nine, ten seconds...

0:42:200:42:22

Obviously, I'm just glad that you're happy.

0:42:220:42:25

My other complainant appears to be happy.

0:42:250:42:27

As far as we're concerned, everything seems quite quiet

0:42:270:42:30

and we're all happy. All right?

0:42:300:42:31

-Thanks very much.

-Thank you.

-Cheers.

0:42:310:42:33

-I'll show you out.

-Cheers. Thank you.

0:42:330:42:35

It's nice just to be able to help, you know, help somebody out with it,

0:42:350:42:38

who have an issue that's persistent enough and nuisance enough

0:42:380:42:42

that they have to call the council in the first place.

0:42:420:42:44

And to be able to sort of help them with that

0:42:440:42:46

and come to a satisfied outcome is really satisfying for me.

0:42:460:42:51

Pete's allusive bird now has a new home with other chickens

0:42:530:42:57

and cockerels on an allotment ten miles away,

0:42:570:43:00

where he can crow to his heart's content.

0:43:000:43:02

COCKEREL CROWS

0:43:020:43:05

Wigan's council officers crack down on shopkeepers selling alcohol to children, deal with dangerous dumped waste and try to help tired residents in a flap about a cockerel disturbing the peace.


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