Episode 12 Call the Council


Episode 12

Series following the work of Wigan's council officers. Officers protect the planet from a potentially dangerous chemical cocktail and use the law against a noisy neighbour.


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Transcript


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From grappling with our daily grind...

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Why have they suddenly decided

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to dump all this waste 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, how you?

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And being on hand in troubled times.

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I've got kids, we can't open the bedroom windows cos of the noise.

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It's affecting everything. Sleep, just day-to-day living, really.

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In this series, we follow frontline staff working for Wigan Council

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in Greater Manchester.

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I speak to the waste.

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I sort of say to it, like, come on, talk to me. Have you got it yet?

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Like council officers across the country,

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they're 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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-It's constant.

-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.

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When they...

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What was the enquiry today?

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..call the council.

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Coming up, council officers protect the planet

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from a potentially dangerous chemical cocktail.

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The chemical treatment they're using is toxic to the environment.

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We don't want to get it into the watercourses

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where it could kill fish or other aquatic life.

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Take steps to sort out a health-and-safety complaint at a garage.

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You really need some airport ladders.

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I'm trying to work out whether this is a complaint by Joe Public,

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or whether it's by the staff and it's a vendetta.

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And use the full force of the law

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against a noisy nuisance neighbour.

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There's a number of recordings

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between two o'clock in the morning and six o'clock in the morning,

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and we will now apply to the magistrates court for a warrant

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so that we can enter the property, with force, if necessary.

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KNOCKING

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Dealing with the concerns of residents

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is central to any council's operation.

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With a population of over 300,000,

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Wigan Council receives over half a million calls a year.

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It has a team of 5,000 ready to respond to its community.

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Barry Pilkington, Public Health. Can I help you, please?

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It's public protection officer Barry Pilkington's job

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to make his borough a cleaner and safer place to live.

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The things that keep me busy are complaints of defective drains

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allowing rats onto the surface.

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And then the problems that they can cause if they get into maybe shops,

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food premises, or domestic properties.

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Smoking chimneys, people making fires.

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People failing to pick up dog fouling.

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Welcome to Wigan contact centre.

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Sarah speaking, how can I help?

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Sometimes investigating a call to the council demands patience,

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persistence and perseverance.

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Today, Barry and fellow public protection officer Colin Evans

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are tackling a serial offender.

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A resident who refuses to clean up the dog foul in his back yard.

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There's a very strong ammonia odour. Very strong.

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It's not just a case of picking up the fouling and removing it.

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We need the area to be disinfected.

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We need to make sure that odours are kept to a minimum,

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and I don't think there's any effort being made at all here now.

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I mean, it's pretty strong, isn't it? It's pretty strong.

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Subjectively, I would say that is seven, eight out of ten.

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I mean, I'm stood a fair distance now.

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It's making me feel a bit sick, that.

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It's... I wouldn't like to live next door to it.

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And I'm afraid I would be ranting and raving.

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In fact, I'd probably bang on his door and give him some grief myself,

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if I lived next door to that. I just would not tolerate that.

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That is just disgusting.

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But Barry has come armed with a solution to this smelly situation.

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I have a letter in my possession here.

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I'm going to hand it to the gentleman concerned

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to try and gee him up. But I'll also be telling him

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that there's a possibility of legal action now.

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We are down the line where we are definitely considering legal action.

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It stinks, though, doesn't it?

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This isn't the first time Barry has been to this location.

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In fact, he's been here numerous times over the past 12 months.

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It started last year when a resident called the council

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regarding a back yard full of dog mess.

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We are in receipt of a complaint regarding dog fouling.

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A chappie in our borough,

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he's not picking up his dog fouling as and when necessary,

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resulting in an accumulation of dog fouling in his rear yard area.

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What Barry found on his first visit was shocking.

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I'm afraid the conditions in this rear yard are simply not acceptable.

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I just want to take some photographs.

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I would estimate that the fouling hasn't been picked up for...

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a number of weeks.

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With the photographic evidence captured,

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Barry tried to speak to the dog owner

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about the excessive level of fouling.

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With no response,

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Barry issued the dog owner with an official abatement notice,

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telling him to clean up the mess.

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On his second visit, Barry wanted to see

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if the resident had acted upon the council's notice.

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That is much more acceptable.

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There's a little bit of dog fouling at the top end of the yard.

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But, on the whole, I would say

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that 98% of the fouling has been picked up and removed.

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After another evening inspection,

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it looked like the residents had finally seen sense.

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It ended positively. That's what we're after.

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I will keep my eye on this.

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And, obviously, there are people around here

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who are affected by the dog fouling.

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I'm sure that if they've got problems,

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they will contact the council.

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And, if contacted, we will visit again.

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Now, a year later,

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Barry has returned because the problem has started again

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and a new call to the council has come in.

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Having seen the fresh evidence in the back yard,

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Barry is going to confront the dog's owner.

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But he's too busy to answer the door.

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He's having his meal.

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I've just heard the gentleman tell us that he's having his tea,

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it would appear. Shall we give it five minutes? And we'll call back.

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It looks like it's going to be a waiting game for Barry and Colin.

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Coming up, Barry's dogged in his approach to foul odours,

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and sets a deadline for this canine's owner.

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Hello there, sir.

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If we find out after 48 hours there's no improvement,

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we will be going to court.

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Councils across the country are responsible for regulating

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the health and safety of small businesses in their boroughs.

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This equates to just over half of the UK's workforce.

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With over 600,000 accidents at work each year,

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councils have an important role in reducing the number

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of injuries and illnesses within their communities.

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Part of environmental health officer Helen Richardson's job

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is business compliance.

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She makes sure that companies

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don't put their staff or the public in danger.

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PHONE RINGS

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Hello, business compliance, Helen speaking.

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An anonymous complainant has called the council about a local business.

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We received a complaint today about a garage

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where there are some health and safety concerns,

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including there being no supportive chain on the garage door.

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That there is no guard on the tyre-fitting machine.

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And there are some other issues. So, we're going to go down there

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and have a look today, see what's going on.

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All right, thanks very much, goodbye.

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They won't be expecting us today. It is an unannounced visit.

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We want to try and see how those people and businesses are operating

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without them knowing that we're coming.

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It can be quite nerve-racking, really,

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going down to these places where you've never been before.

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You might not know how they're going to react to you turning up.

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For her own health and safety,

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Helen has paired up with colleague Lynn Fish.

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Fortunately, they're met with a warm welcome by garage owner Alan Bott.

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Hello. My name's Helen Richardson.

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-Hello.

-Lynn Fish.

-How are you doing?

-From Wigan council.

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We've come down today to discuss a complaint that we've received

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regarding some health and safety issues, if that's all right?

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-No problem. Fire away.

-All right.

-We'll get them sorted.

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I can see out in the yard that the tyres are actually piled quite high.

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-Yeah.

-Would you be able to show us some of those...

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-Can we see the ladders?

-We'll have a look outside.

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Yeah, if you wish. Yeah.

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-Is this the highest they're stacked?

-This is the highest we stack them.

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And these would be the ladders that are used for the heights?

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They'd use them for those. If you want to go to shorter level,

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we've got the yellow ones behind us.

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So, these ladders, is that piece of wood attached to them?

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That one there, that's attached to it just in case it does slip, yes.

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-Right, OK.

-You really need some airport ladders.

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-Some what?

-Airport steps.

-The ones with...

-They're like...

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You need three points of contact when you're getting things down.

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-All right, OK. No problem.

-It's not safe.

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-If we have to do that, we'll do it.

-Is that all right?

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Leaning ladders have the potential to slip

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when heavy objects are being moved.

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Ladders with an extra set of feet, such as airport ladders,

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offer more stability and could stop this from happening.

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I understand it's a health-and-safety issue.

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-It is.

-No problem.

-Like Helen says...

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I am quite surprised, I mean regarding...

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I've not had any, um...

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..staff with any injury that I know about, regarding this.

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I've not had any staff which have left with any injuries like this.

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You know what I mean, etc, so I'm quite surprised.

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I'm trying to work out whether this is a complaint by Joe Public,

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an observation, or whether it's by the staff and it's a vendetta.

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I'm quite surprised on this,

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but you'd not be able to tell me that.

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-No.

-I understand you're just going to take it

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-on the merit you're asking me.

-Yeah.

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Coming up, Helen has more health-and-safety questions for Alan.

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There is a possibility that tyre could explode.

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-There is a possibility when I'm inflating that it can explode.

-Yeah.

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When we make a call to the council, we want the problem solved fast.

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But, for the council, there's not always a quick fix.

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And some of us are left feeling disgruntled.

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I think one of the problems these days in this world of IT

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is everybody quotes the website.

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Go to a website, go to a hotline,

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which can be very frustrating.

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You can be waiting ages on the phone.

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You go to a website, leave a message and you don't get a message back.

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I'm a chef, at the end of the day,

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and when someone asks me to do something, I do it straightaway.

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When we approach the council to do something,

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it takes three or four weeks, maybe longer.

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I believe, from my own experience,

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that my council is good.

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Whatever dealings I've had with them,

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they've always been good and resolved the situation.

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Public protection officers Barry Pilkington and Colin Evans

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are dealing with a serial offender who won't clear up his dog's mess.

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Barry's been forced to threaten the dog owner with legal action.

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It's pretty strong, isn't it? It's pretty strong.

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As far as I'm concerned, there is a statutory nuisance occurring now,

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as I am stood here.

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Barry and Colin have given the reticent resident

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time to finish his dinner.

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They're hoping this time he'll open the door so they can confront him.

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Hello, there, sir. What it is, we've had a complaint.

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I've been round the back. And, for me, that is a statutory nuisance.

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It absolutely reeks of urine and foul odours

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at the bottom of your yard.

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That is permeating to the properties either side of you

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and they're being affected by the conditions in your yard.

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There is a letter there, a self-explanatory letter,

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all about the fact that there is an abatement notice being served,

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and what actions you need to take

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to try and keep your yard free from odours.

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If we call here in 48 hours

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and we find that there are still odours from your rear yard,

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we will consider legal action.

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It's important that you understand that.

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You do understand that? All right, sir.

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I'll leave it with you. Any problems at all, you give us a ring.

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Thank you, bye, now.

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Me and my colleague have been doing this job for many, many years.

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Probably the best part of 60 years between the pair of us.

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I think I can honestly say to you,

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that's one of the worst I've ever smelt.

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It's horrendous, it's shocking.

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So, now, the letter that I've given him, in layman's terms,

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it'll give him 48 hours to have a think about it,

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to clean up and to disinfect.

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Not just clean up, to disinfect.

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To take steps to keep odours to a minimum.

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If we find out after 48 hours there's no improvement,

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we will be going to court.

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Coming up, Barry sticks his nose in again.

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Can he resolve this smelly situation?

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Councils have a responsibility

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to make sure local businesses are operating safely.

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Can you try and get that shut now then? Yeah?

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And, frequently, that means keeping a close eye on the local environment

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and monitoring pollution.

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We're keen to encourage business to come into the borough.

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But, equally, we wouldn't accept a company coming into the borough

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and causing excessive amounts of pollution

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and turn a blind eye on that

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just because it's economically favourable.

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We have to protect the environment.

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Public protection officer Steve Tesson-Fell

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has been called by a company

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that needs a permit to meet new environmental standards.

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The business treats timber with chemicals,

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some of them highly toxic. And Steve can only issue the permit

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if the company can demonstrate that it uses those chemicals safely.

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One of the things they do on-site here is take untreated wood

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and they treat it in order to enhance its service life.

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This has been treated, it has that slightly green tint to it.

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And in a household situation, you would generally find treated timber

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in fence panels, or wooden garden furniture, or decking.

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The timber is treated using a process known as Tanalisation.

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Planks are loaded inside a sealed container

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and preservative chemicals forced into the wood under high pressure.

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We're here today to have a look at how they treat it

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and to ensure that doesn't adversely impact on the environment.

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The treatment preserves the wood from fungal disease and weathering,

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giving our fences and decking a longer lifespan.

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But the preservatives used include copper carbonate,

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copper hydroxide and boric acid.

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Chemicals that are poisonous to humans and animals.

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The chemical treatment they're using is toxic to the environment.

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We don't want it entering or contaminating the ground.

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We don't want to get it into watercourses, where it could kill fish or other aquatic life.

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So, that's why the containment system is important.

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The way these dangerous chemicals

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are handled and contained within the building

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is the focus of Steve's inspection.

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Manager Roger knows his procedures have to be spot-on

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to get the permit he needs.

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Hopefully, all our processes are up-to-date

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and everybody's going to be content with the way we run the company.

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Steve will inspect the whole process from beginning to end

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before he can make a decision on this new permit.

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The first step is to seal the wood in the pressure container

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so that no chemicals can leak out.

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In terms of the treatment vessels,

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you've got interlocks in place

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so the door can't open whist it's operating.

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The door needs to be properly closed

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before the liquid treatment chemicals

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can get pumped into the pressure vessel.

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The pressure container can now be filled with the chemical cocktail

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that will preserve the wood.

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Coming up, Steve needs to be sure

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that Roger is dealing with all of the toxic waste safely.

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What I want to watch is what happens to the residual liquid

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that's going to drain off that timber. I want to make sure

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it's all contained within this treatment building.

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Councils deal with pollution in many forms.

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Wigan Council received over 500 noise complaints last year.

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Wigan Council, Paul Gallagher speaking.

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And today, enforcement officer Paul Gallagher is receiving one more.

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So, you're saying you've been affected by the noise

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in the early hours of the morning?

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And...

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During the day as well. And how long does this go on for?

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And it's a case he knows well.

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These complainants first called the council eight months ago

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because their neighbour was playing loud music at unsociable hours.

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Paul investigated and issued the neighbour with an abatement notice,

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instructing him to stop.

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But now the noise is back. If it's proven

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that the music is being played at an unacceptable level,

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Paul has the power to seize the sound system

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and start court proceedings.

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Paul's first priority in a case like this

0:17:580:18:01

is to record and accurately measure

0:18:010:18:03

the level and frequency of the nuisance.

0:18:030:18:05

The aim of the visit today is install noise-monitoring equipment

0:18:050:18:08

to gather evidence to see if there's a breach of the notice.

0:18:080:18:11

If there is a breach of the notice, we've got various options,

0:18:130:18:16

which include gathering evidence to go for prosecution,

0:18:160:18:20

or also we could even seize the equipment.

0:18:200:18:23

Paul previously dealt with noise from industry,

0:18:230:18:26

but now he's dealing with residential complaints.

0:18:260:18:29

Dealing with unsocial behaviour has been a massive learning curve

0:18:290:18:33

over the past 18 months.

0:18:330:18:35

My preconceptions of it were completely blown out the water.

0:18:350:18:38

Sometimes there may be an underlying problem,

0:18:380:18:43

such as mental health issues,

0:18:430:18:45

learning difficulties, substance misuse.

0:18:450:18:48

But, also, some people are just bad.

0:18:490:18:52

The man who called the council has already made his own recording

0:18:540:18:58

of his neighbour's nocturnal noises.

0:18:580:19:00

It was over here one night. Recorded this.

0:19:000:19:03

12:27pm,

0:19:060:19:07

this is the other side of the room from the side of the neighbours,

0:19:070:19:11

and it's... This is just on an iPhone lying in the bed.

0:19:110:19:15

LOUD MUSIC PLAYS

0:19:150:19:18

Keiran shares the bedroom with his wife and newborn baby.

0:19:180:19:22

It's not the haven of peace and quiet that they all need.

0:19:230:19:27

You go to bed at night, not knowing if you're going to be woke up.

0:19:310:19:35

So you go to work absolutely knackered.

0:19:350:19:37

The baby's in here with us,

0:19:370:19:39

it wakes the baby up.

0:19:390:19:41

So, we're all just limping along, really.

0:19:410:19:44

If this doesn't get solved,

0:19:440:19:46

we're going to have to sell up and move somewhere else.

0:19:460:19:49

Hopefully, Paul's intervention will mean that Keiran's family

0:19:500:19:54

won't have to consider the drastic step of finding a new home.

0:19:540:19:58

-All right?

-How you doing?

-Not so bad.

0:19:580:20:01

I believe things haven't been too good recently.

0:20:010:20:03

No, he's...at it again.

0:20:030:20:06

The night before last.

0:20:060:20:08

It literally sounds like we've got a stereo at the end of the bed,

0:20:090:20:12

just playing full whack all night.

0:20:120:20:14

Roughly what time is it occurring?

0:20:140:20:16

It alters. Between the hours of 12 and six in the morning.

0:20:160:20:19

Is it happening at the weekend, or during the week?

0:20:190:20:22

Normally when his benefits go in.

0:20:220:20:25

Your see the Iceland van pull up outside

0:20:250:20:27

and they bring all his White Lightning in, and then that's it.

0:20:270:20:31

It's hell for a few days.

0:20:310:20:32

The equipment will be left for seven days.

0:20:340:20:36

It will accurately measure the volume of noise,

0:20:360:20:39

giving the necessary evidence to prove that the neighbour

0:20:390:20:42

is breaking the conditions of the original abatement notice.

0:20:420:20:46

To get away from the noise, we slept downstairs on the sofa.

0:20:460:20:50

But you can still hear it as clear as day down here.

0:20:500:20:54

But...a lot of sleepless nights and tears.

0:20:540:20:56

Now the equipment is up and running, Paul shows Keiran how to use it.

0:20:590:21:03

When you're affected by the noise, just press the button.

0:21:030:21:06

It'll come on red. That shows it's recording.

0:21:060:21:09

That's measuring noise all the time, because it's plugged in.

0:21:090:21:14

But it will only record when you press the button.

0:21:140:21:16

So, you can have conversations in here

0:21:160:21:19

and it won't get picked up by the machine.

0:21:190:21:21

All right, see you next week.

0:21:260:21:27

It's a sad thing that we've got to have it in,

0:21:270:21:29

but it's one of them measures you've got to take

0:21:290:21:32

and hopefully it'll lead to some form of prosecution.

0:21:320:21:35

And then the noise will stop.

0:21:370:21:38

Coming up, will the recordings provide the evidence Paul needs

0:21:380:21:42

to be able to take action?

0:21:420:21:45

Environmental health officers Helen Richardson and Lynn Fish

0:21:520:21:55

are making a surprise inspection of a garage.

0:21:550:21:58

Anonymous complaints have been made

0:21:580:22:01

about the business's health and safety.

0:22:010:22:03

They've queried Alan on his ladders.

0:22:050:22:07

So, these ladders, is that piece of wood attached to them?

0:22:070:22:10

That one there, that's actually attached to it,

0:22:100:22:13

just in case it does slip, yes.

0:22:130:22:15

The next complaint to check

0:22:150:22:17

is whether a roller shutter will stay up without a safety chain.

0:22:170:22:21

-So, if you took that away...

-I need to release that up there,

0:22:210:22:23

move the catch, and it will come down.

0:22:230:22:25

So, if that was to come away, or fall, the door would come down.

0:22:250:22:28

In 15 years, it never has. But there's always a first time.

0:22:280:22:32

Alan doesn't believe there's anything wrong with the shutter.

0:22:320:22:36

-So it will hold without it?

-It will hold.

-That's what we we're asking.

0:22:390:22:43

-Yeah, of course.

-That's what I was asking you.

0:22:430:22:45

-We just don't want, obviously, if that...

-I understand.

0:22:450:22:48

I just put it there just in case.

0:22:480:22:50

The way you were saying it,

0:22:500:22:52

I thought it kind of fell when you took that off.

0:22:520:22:54

Alan shows the officers how he changes a tyre.

0:22:560:22:59

And then demonstrates his tyre-pressure tester.

0:23:010:23:04

Every tyre, by the way, has actually been checked

0:23:040:23:08

by this tyre-pressure machine here. OK?

0:23:080:23:11

What this does, it pretends to be a wheel.

0:23:110:23:14

OK? So, I can put all types of tyres in here by changing the chucks.

0:23:150:23:20

OK? And what we can do is we can pressure-test it

0:23:200:23:24

to see if there's any issues going on.

0:23:240:23:27

Helen's worried that the pressure machine's not safe.

0:23:270:23:30

-Would you not need a guard on that?

-No.

-Why?

0:23:310:23:34

As far as I know, the manufacturers don't do one.

0:23:340:23:37

Theoretically, if you're using part-worn tyres on that,

0:23:370:23:39

with pressure going round,

0:23:390:23:42

there is a possibility that tyre could explode.

0:23:420:23:45

-There is a possibility when they're in place, it can explode.

-Yeah.

0:23:450:23:49

The pressure on Alan is building.

0:23:490:23:51

I want you to show me machines that have actually got it.

0:23:510:23:54

-It's actually guidance from health and safety.

-Guidance?

0:23:540:23:57

-So, you can't show me any evidence of a machine that's got one.

-No.

0:23:570:24:00

No, please, show me one. I'll be impressed.

0:24:000:24:02

I will send you some information, though.

0:24:020:24:04

-So you can read about it and...

-No, bring it, I want to see it.

0:24:040:24:08

Helen then spots something else.

0:24:080:24:10

-Can I ask you about your tyres up here?

-Yeah.

0:24:100:24:12

How do you get them down?

0:24:120:24:14

Ladder, and only me does that.

0:24:140:24:17

I don't climb in that handle.

0:24:170:24:19

I get it out and I put it up there.

0:24:190:24:20

The reason for that is they're all scared of heights.

0:24:200:24:23

-Right.

-Joke.

0:24:230:24:24

I don't believe that.

0:24:240:24:27

I will have to carry on with this as I've got a customer waiting.

0:24:270:24:31

On with the job.

0:24:310:24:33

Helen and Lynn leave Alan to his business

0:24:350:24:37

and take stock of what they've seen.

0:24:370:24:39

He explained his tyre-fitting procedures

0:24:420:24:44

and the inflation procedures

0:24:440:24:46

and how he uses the pressure-gauge machine.

0:24:460:24:51

Probably got a few concerns that I'll need to address.

0:24:530:24:56

I'll go back and look at the guidance,

0:24:560:24:58

look at the legislation again. Then we'll be in contact with him.

0:24:580:25:01

Alan reflects on his call from the council.

0:25:010:25:04

Yeah, the ladies from the council...

0:25:040:25:06

Better bite me tongue! No, they did a good job.

0:25:060:25:09

They're there to do a good job, such as all of them.

0:25:090:25:11

Sometimes I feel, and the saying is, they're stealing a living.

0:25:110:25:15

But that can be done in all walks of life.

0:25:150:25:18

Well, he's going to get his ladders and he was very cooperative.

0:25:180:25:22

He said he'll get those within 48 hours

0:25:220:25:25

so that his staff can access the tyres.

0:25:250:25:28

Oh, I'll sort it out. Get my airport ladders, which she said.

0:25:280:25:31

That's not a problem. We'll sort the ladders out here.

0:25:310:25:34

There wasn't an issue with the roller shutter door,

0:25:340:25:37

which she thought there was. But, yeah, it all needs doing.

0:25:370:25:40

They're there to do something,

0:25:400:25:42

and it's for the safety of the staff and myself. Bring it on.

0:25:420:25:47

Ladders!

0:25:470:25:48

Coming up, will Alan be true to his word

0:25:480:25:50

and carry out the recommendations?

0:25:500:25:53

Barry Pilkington has been dealing with a long-running complaint -

0:26:010:26:04

a man who doesn't clear up his dog's mess from the back yard.

0:26:040:26:08

He thought he'd fixed it a year ago, but now it's started again.

0:26:080:26:12

Barry has given the resident a deadline to clean up

0:26:120:26:14

or else face legal action.

0:26:140:26:16

If we find out, after 48 hours, there's no improvement,

0:26:160:26:19

we will be going to court.

0:26:190:26:21

The 48-hour deadline has passed.

0:26:240:26:26

And Barry is back at the back yard to see if the resident is complying.

0:26:280:26:32

Basically, we are revisiting here today,

0:26:340:26:36

to have a little look in the rear yard area,

0:26:360:26:38

see if there's any further dog fouling,

0:26:380:26:40

see if there's a problem with odours.

0:26:400:26:43

If there is, then it will be a case of...

0:26:430:26:46

The matter will be referred to the council's legal section

0:26:460:26:49

with a view to possible prosecution.

0:26:490:26:51

After 30 years tackling odour complaints,

0:26:530:26:56

Barry's nose knows what to sniff for.

0:26:560:26:59

But on this occasion,

0:27:020:27:03

the rain could be dampening down the dodgy doggy aroma.

0:27:030:27:07

There's a slight amount of dog fouling.

0:27:080:27:11

And, again, a slight odour. But only a slight odour.

0:27:110:27:14

Certainly not enough to give rise to statutory nuisance.

0:27:140:27:17

So, at this moment in time, we will continue to monitor,

0:27:170:27:20

maybe a couple of times a week,

0:27:200:27:22

just to see if the person who's responsible for the dog

0:27:220:27:25

living at the property

0:27:250:27:26

keeps on top of things, keeps the yard clear of fouling,

0:27:260:27:30

and also odour.

0:27:300:27:32

Barry will return to check the resident keeps the mess

0:27:330:27:36

down to an acceptable level.

0:27:360:27:38

Coming up, Barry's frustrated

0:27:390:27:41

by the time it's taking to resolve this job.

0:27:410:27:44

We need to be looking at enforcement action,

0:27:440:27:47

and that is where we're up to with this particular complaint.

0:27:470:27:50

Public protection officer Steve Tesson-Fell

0:27:570:28:00

is inspecting a timber-treatment plant

0:28:000:28:02

to make sure the poisonous preservatives they use

0:28:020:28:05

are properly contained.

0:28:050:28:07

The business needs a new permit

0:28:070:28:09

to keep in line with a change in environmental legislation.

0:28:090:28:12

If the process isn't safe, Steve can refuse the permit.

0:28:120:28:16

The chemical treatments they're using is toxic to the environment.

0:28:160:28:19

So, we don't want it entering the ground, contaminating the ground.

0:28:190:28:22

We don't want it in watercourses,

0:28:220:28:23

where it could kill fish or other aquatic life.

0:28:230:28:25

After two hours, the wood has absorbed most of the chemical liquid

0:28:270:28:31

and is removed from the container.

0:28:310:28:33

What I want to watch is what happens to the residual liquid

0:28:330:28:38

that's going to drain off that timber. I want to make sure

0:28:380:28:40

it's all contained within this treatment building.

0:28:400:28:43

Liquid that hasn't been absorbed drains from the planks

0:28:430:28:46

as they're transported for storage.

0:28:460:28:49

Channels on the sloped floor are designed

0:28:490:28:51

to direct the flow of the liquid into a tank.

0:28:510:28:53

You can see from where it's going,

0:28:550:28:56

it's all heading back down towards the sump.

0:28:560:28:59

So, that's good. That's contained.

0:28:590:29:00

Although it looks quite messy and there's a lot of it there,

0:29:000:29:03

it will get... It will get contained in the sump and will get recycled.

0:29:030:29:07

But Steve spots forklift trucks

0:29:090:29:11

driving through the chemical spillage and going outside.

0:29:110:29:14

It's a potential risk.

0:29:140:29:16

Toxic waste could flow into the public drains.

0:29:160:29:19

He flags up an imminent rule change to manager Roger.

0:29:190:29:23

So, as part of the upgrading,

0:29:230:29:24

and I think in two years' time we'll require this from,

0:29:240:29:27

um...we're going to be looking at having clean and dirty forklifts.

0:29:270:29:32

So there'll be a dirty forklift operating in here,

0:29:320:29:34

and a clean one outside. It's so that residue like this

0:29:340:29:37

doesn't get tracked out onto the yard outside

0:29:370:29:39

where rain could wash it into drains.

0:29:390:29:41

Steve has spent two hours inspecting the timber-treatment process.

0:29:440:29:48

If he isn't happy with what he's seen,

0:29:480:29:50

he can deny the business its new permit, stopping it from operating.

0:29:500:29:54

I've had a look around today. I've seen the loading machine,

0:29:540:29:57

the unloading machine. I've seen chemical delivery, chemical storage.

0:29:570:30:01

The toxic chemicals appear to be recycled properly

0:30:030:30:07

and the high-pressure tank seems secure.

0:30:070:30:10

But there is a potential issue with the forklift trucks.

0:30:100:30:13

Has Roger done enough to get the permit his company needs?

0:30:140:30:18

Right, Roger, I'm quite happy with everything I've seen here today.

0:30:200:30:23

So, when I go back to the office, at some point this week,

0:30:230:30:25

-I'll issue the permit to you.

-That's fantastic. Thanks very much.

0:30:250:30:28

No problem at all.

0:30:280:30:30

Good news for the environment and Roger.

0:30:300:30:33

It shows that we're up to date with the legislation

0:30:340:30:36

and we're willing to take everything forward in the correct manners.

0:30:360:30:40

Roger now has 24 months to separate his dirty and clean forklifts.

0:30:410:30:46

Paul Gallagher has been called to help a young family who can't sleep

0:30:540:30:58

due to the loud music being played at all hours by their neighbour.

0:30:580:31:02

Paul's installed noise-monitoring equipment

0:31:020:31:05

to record and measure the nuisance.

0:31:050:31:07

If it's bad, he will start court proceedings

0:31:070:31:10

and seize the music system.

0:31:100:31:12

Back at the office, Paul is listening back

0:31:130:31:15

to the recordings made over the past seven days in the family's home.

0:31:150:31:19

Even through headphones, he can tell it's bad.

0:31:190:31:22

There's a number of recordings between two o'clock in the morning

0:31:230:31:27

and six o'clock in the morning. It's clearly audible.

0:31:270:31:29

You can hear the words.

0:31:290:31:31

Imagine by John Lennon, Sympathy For The Devil, by the Stones.

0:31:310:31:35

Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly.

0:31:350:31:37

It sounds like Paul has gathered some solid evidence.

0:31:400:31:43

In my opinion, these recordings indicate

0:31:470:31:49

that the notice we served last year is being breached

0:31:490:31:52

and we will now apply to the magistrates court for a warrant

0:31:520:31:55

so that we can enter the property, with force if necessary,

0:31:550:31:59

to remove the noise-making equipment.

0:31:590:32:01

A few weeks later, the court granted Paul the warrant he needed

0:32:030:32:07

to seize the noisy neighbour's sound equipment,

0:32:070:32:09

and today is the day of seizure.

0:32:090:32:12

In case the man is uncooperative,

0:32:120:32:14

Paul has enlisted the help of the police

0:32:140:32:16

and is taking them through his plan.

0:32:160:32:18

The aim of today's job is that we're going to enter the premises

0:32:180:32:23

to remove the noise-making equipment,

0:32:230:32:26

as per the warrant we got from the magistrates court.

0:32:260:32:29

We're also going to be serving papers on them

0:32:290:32:31

for an upcoming court appearance.

0:32:310:32:33

It's the first time we've done this for a long time,

0:32:330:32:36

so we're not really sure what response we're going to get.

0:32:360:32:38

It's unlikely that we're going to get a positive response.

0:32:380:32:41

So, we've planned and prepared this

0:32:410:32:43

so that we can manage that eventuality.

0:32:430:32:46

Briefing over, Paul and the officers make their way to the address.

0:32:460:32:50

This is only the third occasion in 20 years

0:32:510:32:54

the council has seized equipment to stop noise nuisance.

0:32:540:32:58

Doing so means this situation can't escalate

0:33:000:33:03

whilst they await a court date.

0:33:030:33:05

As far as the council's concerned,

0:33:070:33:09

we've given him every opportunity to solve his noise problem.

0:33:090:33:13

But now we're taking it in our own hands to solve that.

0:33:130:33:17

This job could turn tricky,

0:33:170:33:19

because we may have to use force to gain entry,

0:33:190:33:23

and it could turn violent.

0:33:230:33:25

Hopefully, the presence of the police will reduce that chance.

0:33:250:33:29

But until we actually arrive,

0:33:290:33:31

we don't know what the response is going to be.

0:33:310:33:33

As we're getting closer...my heart is beating a little bit faster.

0:33:330:33:38

Coming up, Paul and the police arrive

0:33:390:33:42

at the persistent noise-offender's address.

0:33:420:33:44

They don't know how they'll be received.

0:33:440:33:47

KNOCKING

0:33:470:33:49

After an anonymous complaint was made

0:33:580:34:01

about a garage's health and safety,

0:34:010:34:03

council officers Helen Richardson and Lynne Fish

0:34:030:34:06

carried out a surprise inspection.

0:34:060:34:08

They were concerned about a roller shutter,

0:34:090:34:12

a tyre-pressure machine

0:34:120:34:14

and the type of ladder used

0:34:140:34:16

to bring tyres down from the top of the stack.

0:34:160:34:19

A week has passed,

0:34:200:34:21

and Helen is returning to see if garage owner Alan Bott

0:34:210:34:24

has made the changes she's asked for.

0:34:240:34:27

-Ladders!

-Follow me, please.

0:34:270:34:29

-Right.

-Follow me.

0:34:290:34:31

The first thing they go to look at

0:34:310:34:33

are Alan's new airport-style ladders.

0:34:330:34:35

What I've done is actually put a chain on here,

0:34:370:34:39

because I'm not happy with being up the top of there

0:34:390:34:43

and having a tyre at waist height, maybe, being top-heavy.

0:34:430:34:47

-Right.

-We've also put a hard hat there. It's there to be used.

0:34:470:34:50

-Whether they use it...

-OK.

0:34:500:34:52

That's what I've got.

0:34:520:34:54

That's a definite tick.

0:34:540:34:56

We're happy with the ladders. Especially now he's got two pairs,

0:34:560:34:59

so he can use the other pair on the other aisle,

0:34:590:35:01

instead of having to manoeuvre them all the time

0:35:010:35:04

he's got one set for each aisle.

0:35:040:35:07

We'll just have a look at the back area as well.

0:35:070:35:09

Next, Helen offers Alan some advice on the roller shutter.

0:35:090:35:13

With the shutters then, you just need to check

0:35:130:35:15

whether they need a safety chain.

0:35:150:35:17

-I'll find out.

-Is that all right?

-I'll find that out.

0:35:170:35:20

But I'm half-tempted maybe to put a chain on it anyway.

0:35:200:35:24

-OK.

-Which would keep you sweet.

-Well, it would be better.

0:35:240:35:26

It would keep me happy as well. OK, will do.

0:35:260:35:29

And finally, she clarifies

0:35:290:35:31

how Alan and his staff use the tyre-pressure machine.

0:35:310:35:34

When you're using the tyre-inflation machines out there,

0:35:340:35:37

like you demonstrated to us,

0:35:370:35:39

can you... Can the employees inflate them from a distance?

0:35:390:35:43

-Yes.

-It's just, really,

0:35:430:35:45

if there was anything to happen and an inflating tyre did explode,

0:35:450:35:49

they wouldn't be stood in a position

0:35:490:35:51

-where they would get hit by anything, basically.

-No.

-OK.

0:35:510:35:54

Helen has seen improvements and given Alan further advice

0:35:560:36:00

to keep his business a safe place to work.

0:36:000:36:02

We won't come back to visit him now.

0:36:030:36:05

We've provided him with the guidance that we need to.

0:36:050:36:09

If we do receive further complaints,

0:36:090:36:11

then obviously there will be follow-up to that.

0:36:110:36:13

Sometimes when you're running a business,

0:36:140:36:16

things can get left behind a little bit.

0:36:160:36:19

He's aware that can't be at the detriment

0:36:190:36:21

to the health and safety of his employees.

0:36:210:36:23

At the end of the day, it's got to be done.

0:36:250:36:27

If it's done to our best ability and it keeps everybody happy

0:36:270:36:31

and it's all done for the safety of everybody else, let's do it.

0:36:310:36:36

Public protection officer Barry Pilkington

0:36:470:36:50

is battling with a back yard full of dog mess

0:36:500:36:53

that's causing a stink in the neighbourhood.

0:36:530:36:55

Barry's war on waste has been raging for over a year.

0:36:550:36:59

He's returned countless times

0:36:590:37:01

to remind the dog owner to clear his yard.

0:37:010:37:04

We can't keep going out there and having polite words with people.

0:37:040:37:08

You've got to draw a line and say we need to be looking at prosecution.

0:37:080:37:12

We need to be looking at enforcement action,

0:37:120:37:14

and that is where we're up to with this particular complaint.

0:37:140:37:17

I don't want to be doing it.

0:37:170:37:19

But if it has to be done, unfortunately, it is my job.

0:37:190:37:22

I have two Staffordshire bull terrier dogs.

0:37:240:37:26

I work full-time.

0:37:260:37:28

The fact of the matter is, if you have dogs,

0:37:290:37:31

you have to make sure that you take appropriate steps

0:37:310:37:35

and pick up the fouling and legally dispose of it as and when necessary.

0:37:350:37:39

There are no excuses.

0:37:390:37:40

People may say, it's dark when I come home from work.

0:37:400:37:43

I work long shifts. Buy a torch, get an outside light.

0:37:430:37:46

Deal with it.

0:37:460:37:47

Yet again, Barry is back to inspect and to see whether

0:37:490:37:52

his earlier threat of legal action has been heeded.

0:37:520:37:56

There is dog fouling there.

0:37:560:37:57

No odour, not a lot of flies.

0:37:570:38:00

There is no statutory nuisance.

0:38:000:38:02

It's a bit disappointing.

0:38:020:38:04

I'd have thought, if there'd been an abatement notice served on me,

0:38:040:38:08

I would have cleared up the fouling before I'd gone to work.

0:38:080:38:10

It would be a top priority for me to clean up.

0:38:100:38:12

Ultimately, I have to be the average man in the street.

0:38:120:38:16

I can't lean one way or the other.

0:38:160:38:18

The fact of the matter is, is there a nuisance?

0:38:180:38:21

Are conditions at this property

0:38:210:38:23

affecting the rights and enjoyment of other people

0:38:230:38:26

to enjoy their homes and get on with their lives?

0:38:260:38:29

I'm not totally happy about it, but there is no nuisance there.

0:38:310:38:34

We'll leave it be for now.

0:38:340:38:37

What I want is, not me coming out here two or three times a year,

0:38:370:38:41

but to take on board what I'm saying and pick it up.

0:38:410:38:45

Pick it up, remove and legally dispose.

0:38:450:38:47

And disinfect the yard down also.

0:38:470:38:49

For the last 12 months, Barry has been like a dog with a bone.

0:38:490:38:53

Returning time after time

0:38:530:38:55

to inspect a back yard that has been a blight to the community,

0:38:550:38:59

hoping that one day it would be free from dog mess and foul odours.

0:38:590:39:03

For now, there are no grounds for legal action.

0:39:030:39:06

But if this changes, a call to the council

0:39:060:39:09

will lead Barry back to the back yard he knows only too well.

0:39:090:39:13

I'm born and bred in Wigan. Wigan matters to me.

0:39:130:39:16

And when we get situations

0:39:160:39:17

where people are simply not taking on board what I'm saying,

0:39:170:39:20

it can be frustrating,

0:39:200:39:22

because it's my job to make people realise

0:39:220:39:24

what is expected as being a resident in our borough.

0:39:240:39:27

Enforcement officer Paul Gallagher is dealing with a noise complaint.

0:39:380:39:42

A young family's sleep is being disturbed

0:39:420:39:44

by their neighbour playing loud music

0:39:440:39:46

at all hours of the day and night.

0:39:460:39:48

If this doesn't get solved,

0:39:480:39:50

we're going to have to sell up and move somewhere else.

0:39:500:39:53

Paul installed noise-monitoring equipment

0:39:530:39:56

that showed that, despite an abatement notice,

0:39:560:39:58

the man continued to play his music at an unacceptable level.

0:39:580:40:02

There's a number of recordings

0:40:020:40:03

between two o'clock in the morning and six o'clock in the morning,

0:40:030:40:07

and we will now apply to the magistrates' court for a warrant

0:40:070:40:10

so that we can enter the property, with force if necessary,

0:40:100:40:13

to remove the noise-making equipment.

0:40:130:40:15

Today, Paul, with a police escort,

0:40:190:40:22

is going to seize the sound system

0:40:220:40:24

to stop the night-time noise nuisance.

0:40:240:40:26

KNOCKING

0:40:330:40:34

If this goes to plan, the months of sleepless nights could soon be over.

0:40:340:40:39

Any sign of life?

0:40:400:40:42

Hello.

0:40:470:40:48

Paul Gallagher, Wigan Council.

0:40:500:40:52

Can we come in?

0:40:520:40:54

Once in the house,

0:40:540:40:56

Paul exercises his authority as an enforcement officer

0:40:560:40:59

and formally cautions the noisy neighbour.

0:40:590:41:02

The man is cooperative, but is summoned to court

0:41:020:41:05

for breaching his noise abatement notice.

0:41:050:41:08

Paul can use what he finds in the house and the man's words

0:41:080:41:11

as evidence against the nuisance neighbour

0:41:110:41:14

when he brings his prosecution to court.

0:41:140:41:16

After a search of the property,

0:41:200:41:22

Paul confiscates the computer and loudspeakers

0:41:220:41:25

that he believes have been causing the racket.

0:41:250:41:28

Paul takes the confiscated computer

0:41:340:41:36

back to the council's secure lock-up.

0:41:360:41:38

It's been a long but successful day.

0:41:400:41:42

It's a massive relief when something goes as neatly as that.

0:41:450:41:49

It shows that all the planning was worth it.

0:41:490:41:52

Really chuffed.

0:41:520:41:54

Obviously, we don't know if he's going to plead guilty or not guilty.

0:41:540:41:57

We feel we've got quite a strong case

0:41:570:41:59

and we'll run with that case as far as we need to.

0:41:590:42:02

Three weeks later, Paul makes his way to Wigan Magistrates' Court

0:42:030:42:07

for the case to be heard.

0:42:070:42:08

It's the culmination of months of work

0:42:080:42:11

on a case that began over a year ago.

0:42:110:42:14

Today I'm here for the noise-complaint case.

0:42:140:42:16

It's going to be the first hearing. Don't know what's going to happen.

0:42:160:42:19

It's likely it could get adjourned, but, equally,

0:42:190:42:22

it could also be done and dusted today.

0:42:220:42:24

Going to go inside and find out what's happening.

0:42:240:42:27

Paul has submitted all his evidence

0:42:270:42:30

and now the result rests in the magistrates' hands.

0:42:300:42:34

The nuisance neighbour pleaded guilty

0:42:340:42:36

to four counts of failure to comply

0:42:360:42:39

with the original noise abatement notice.

0:42:390:42:41

He was fined £500 and given a four-year criminal behaviour order.

0:42:410:42:47

If he plays music loudly again, disturbing his neighbours,

0:42:470:42:50

he will breach the order and could end up in prison.

0:42:500:42:53

For the complainants,

0:42:550:42:56

it means that they know we've investigated the complaint

0:42:560:43:00

and we've taken decisive, formal action.

0:43:000:43:02

The seized noise equipment was returned to the offender,

0:43:030:43:06

but so far he has obeyed the conditions of the court order.

0:43:060:43:10

All is quiet, and neighbour Keiran is happy.

0:43:100:43:13

Since the court case, it's been a lot better for all of us.

0:43:130:43:17

The baby is sleeping through. The atmosphere has changed.

0:43:170:43:19

Everyone was waking up grumpy and tired,

0:43:190:43:22

whereas now we're all quite fresh and getting on a lot better.

0:43:220:43:26

So, all good.

0:43:260:43:28

Council officers in Wigan protect the planet from a potentially dangerous chemical cocktail and use the full force of the law against a noisy neighbour.


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