Episode 13 Call the Council


Episode 13

Series following the work of Wigan's council officers. Officers assess the safety of adrenalin seekers at a motocross track.


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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 in other people's bins?

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..to an unearthing the extraordinary.

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Wow, it's Wiggin's gold mask.

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Battling those blighting the streets...

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-It's unacceptable, really.

-..bringing the community together...

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-Hi.

-How are you?

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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 because of the noise. It's affecting everything,

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sleep, you know, just day-to-day living, really.

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In this series we follow front-line staff working for Wigan Council

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-in Greater Manchester.

-I speak to the waste.

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I sort of say to it, "Come on, talk to me. What have you got here?"

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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...

-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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I much appreciate what you're doing anyway.

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-When they...

-What was the enquiry today?

-..call the council.

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Coming up...

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council officers join forces in a battle against rubbish and rodents.

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Action man. Getting stuck in now.

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Inspect the health of all creatures great and small

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-at an agricultural show.

-I love my job.

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Always wanted to be the voice for the animals.

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And assess the safety of adrenaline seekers at a motocross track.

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Our worry was that riders would collide into the stone wall.

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Wigan lies 20 miles west of Manchester.

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It's borough council is responsible for a community of over 300,000 people.

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Any problems, just give us a call back, OK?

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One of its biggest departments is environmental services,

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with an annual budget of over £20 million.

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Council officers in this department are tasked with emptying our bins,

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collecting recycling and keeping the streets clean.

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PHONE RINGS

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Council waste services, Alex speaking.

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If rubbish is unlawfully dumped, or allowed to accumulate,

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environmental enforcement officers like Alex Kay

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come down hard on those responsible.

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My job is helping the residents

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who unfortunately have to live in

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and around waste that gets dumped, often causing a nuisance.

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That's what I enjoy, I enjoy getting decent resolutions to problems.

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One Wigan resident who's riled about rubbish is Barbara Paige.

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She's called the council because her neighbour's yard is full of it.

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I have reported it several times to the council.

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It's got worse in the last two years.

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And this year's been terrible with people putting things in.

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Instead of having it removed, like they should do,

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or taking it to the tip themselves, they're just using this as a tip.

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It spoils the environment altogether.

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We generate over 28 million tonnes

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of domestic waste a year

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in the UK.

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Be it bin rounds or tips, most of it is cleared up by local councils.

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But not all of us take advantage of their services.

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If we flout the law and fly tip or dump our waste where we shouldn't,

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officers like Alex have legal powers to force us to clean up.

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The property Barbara complained about appears unoccupied.

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But its overflowing back yard is on Alex's radar.

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Apparently the house has been empty for a number of years

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and the back garden is also unsecure.

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It may not be the homeowner who is dumping the waste in the yard,

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but Alex has made several attempts to contact them without success.

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Making matters worse, residents have started seeing rats.

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You look in and thinking, "Ooh, could it be a rat?"

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I have an outside toilet, but I wouldn't go in there at night

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cos I'm like this, open door, looking.

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I'm imagining they're there when they are not there,

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you know what I mean?

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It's time for Alex to take more drastic action.

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I'm going today to issue a notice

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that requires them to remove all the waste within 28 days.

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Alex can threaten legal action against human wrongdoers,

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but rats have no respect for the law.

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If he's going to rid Barbara's neighbourhood of four-legged pests,

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he'll need reinforcements.

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Public protection officer Colin Evans

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has been rooting out rats for nearly 30 years.

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When I came into this job

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I was under no illusions of what was involved.

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None whatsoever.

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All I say is, "Bring it on."

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The dirtier, the better. If I get the solution, I am not bothered.

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When I first started in environmental services,

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I learned quite a lot off Colin.

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I did quite a lot of job shadowing with him.

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He taught me a lot about drainage and rats and rodents and stuff.

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We've kind of split, really, and we now look at...

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Rather than looking at everything

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we'll sort of have expertise in certain areas.

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If there is a rat to be found, Colin will find it.

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Today, Alex is teaming up again with Wigan's Pied Piper

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and together they are hoping to crack this complaint.

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This is it.

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Nice!

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Getting stuck in now.

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Action man!

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They've got the same haircut.

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The waste in the yard provides lots of places for rats to hide.

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Colin wants to flush them out and has a good idea where to start.

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All these terraced houses years ago,

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had an outside toilet and like a coal shed.

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A lot of them get knocked down

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and they sometimes don't cap the drains off.

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I'll just have a look now and see if I can see any signs of an open drain

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where rodents might be coming out of. So, we'll see what we can see.

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Nothing down there.

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With no sign of any historic plumbing, Colin's drawn a blank.

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Rats have between four and six litters a year.

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Producing eight to 12 offspring per litter.

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If left to breed unchecked,

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one pair could produce a colony of 2,000 rats a year.

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Colin needs to find where they are coming from

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before an infestation takes hold.

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And he might have found a clue.

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This could be interesting.

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We've got the surface here, the tarmac's sunk.

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There's quite a big hole under there.

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Public sewer's running straight down here.

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Straight above a public sewer, which is full of rats.

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It's quite feasible there is a fault on that.

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On closer inspection,

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Colin suspects the rats could be using the sewer as a route into

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the alley and back yards.

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Where that's collapsed like that,

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that does make me feel it's straight into the sewer, that.

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It looks like these rats are no match

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for a veteran vermin capturer like Colin.

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We've only been here 20 minutes,

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Colin seems to have located the source.

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I think that just comes from years of doing it, really.

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He knows exactly what to look for and, yeah, I'm impressed.

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To prove his instincts are right,

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Colin has some colourful chemical kit.

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Put some drain dye down this hole and I'm going to pour water down.

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If my theory is right...

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the pipe in here, the water in here, will turn green.

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See what happens.

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I'm optimistic.

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Yes, it is coming out already.

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No question at all, coming through there.

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That tells me the rats are coming up the side of the chamber,

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up where the wall is,

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and they found a weak spot and they have tunnelled out.

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Rats' teeth are a fearsome weapon.

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They can grow up to 5.5 inches a year and,

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when they get their teeth into something,

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there's very little that can stop them.

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A rat would chew through tarmac no problem whatsoever.

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It would chew through concrete and get to through tarmac quite easily.

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There's plenty of purchase on it.

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They're very industrious.

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They've nothing else to do apart from chew and chew and chew

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till they find a way to get to a food source.

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-Watch it.

-That's it.

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With the rats' run located, Colin's work is done.

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-Right, cheers, Colin.

-Cheers, Alex.

-See you later. Ta-ra, pal.

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It's now over to the council's highways team,

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who will fill the hole to stop the rats running out of the sewer

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and into the back yard.

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And for Alex,

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he still has the problem of getting the rubbish in the yard removed.

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But after weeks of trying,

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he hasn't been able to make contact with the homeowner.

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Local intelligence is telling us

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nobody has lived here from some time.

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I've left them numerous contact cards

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and I've wrote to them and I've had no reply.

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So this is... We're at the stage we're at now.

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Hence the reason why I'm sticking the notice on the door.

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Hopefully, somebody might know where they live,

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they might know a way of getting in touch

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and just highlight to them that there is a notice been served

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and then hopefully they'll get in touch with me.

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But if not, 28 days and we'll have a resolution anyway.

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If the rubbish isn't removed within 28 days, Alex will get it cleared,

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but the bill will be passed onto the property owner,

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along with a fine of £100 plus charges in default.

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We've done all we can, so it's just a waiting game now.

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Coming up... The highways team arrived to fix the hole,

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but disaster strikes.

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Sometimes the plans are wrong.

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We might have nicked a water or a drain.

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Council officers on the front line deal daily with a variety of often

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unpleasant duties.

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From rotting rubbish in bins...

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It's probably been there for weeks, if not months.

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..to dirty drains.

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A bit of toilet paper in there and possibly some wipes over there.

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But it's not all dirty work.

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On occasion, they do get given more glamorous assignments.

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Haigh Agricultural Show is a local event supported by Wigan Council.

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It's a fun-filled family day,

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featuring friends of the four-legged variety

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where farmers can compete for coveted prizes

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by parading their livestock.

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COW MOOS

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Which is where animal health officer Sue Keane McPartlin comes in.

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I think in all I've been 25 years an animal health officer.

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I love my job.

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Always wanted to be sort of the voice for the animals.

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COW MOOS

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Events like these attract various animals from all over the UK.

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Farmers hosting them require an animal gathering licence.

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The licence is enforced by the council.

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Sue is on site to check that

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the conditions of the licence are being met.

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One of the main reasons I'm here today is to ensure

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the welfare of these farmed animals

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and that disease is not going to be spread from farm to farm.

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If not properly managed, healthy animals could easily pick up

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infections from others carrying disease.

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Sometimes it's as simple as breathing the same air.

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Diseases like foot and mouth are a huge health risk -

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they spread quickly and are devastating to the farming industry.

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The outbreak in 2001 saw around ten million animals destroyed

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and is estimated to have cost

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the UK economy £8 billion.

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Although outbreaks like this are rare, they can happen anywhere,

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so Sue wants to take a closer look at the livestock.

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We're just going to have a look at the sheep now.

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When you're looking for a healthy animal,

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you are looking for something that's alert,

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that clearly is standing in a natural stance.

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It's going to have a nice bright eyes,

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it's going to be interested in what's going on around it.

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These look really well.

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They've all got nice, clean rear ends.

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So, a natural stance, bright eyes, and a nice, clean bottom...

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..show the sheep are healthy and happy and not a concern for Sue.

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But she still has other animals here to check.

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In the cow enclosure,

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they're making an extra effort to clean up in today's competition.

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Who have you brought today?

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That is Lancashire Rose.

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That's Belle.

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What's the little one?

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-Teddy Bear.

-That's Teddy Bear.

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Now Sue is on first name terms,

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she asks to take a closer look at the cow's transportation.

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-So you brought all four here this morning...

-Yeah.

-..in this? Yeah.

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Contaminated vehicles travelling large distances accelerate

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the spread of devastating diseases, like foot and mouth,

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so checks like this are extremely important.

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It's very clean. It's the standard I would expect it to be.

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You can actually see they do have drains here as well.

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-Two tanks of it underneath with water.

-Yeah.

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And that's the important thing because if they were open,

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the slurry would be going onto the grounds.

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-There is the possibility of spreading disease...

-Yeah.

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..across the country wherever you go.

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Sue has no beef with these cows or their owner.

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-Well, I wish you luck today.

-Thank you very much.

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But stopping the spread of disease

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is about more than how the animals got here,

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it's also about where they came from,

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so it's time for a visit to passport control.

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Good morning, ladies.

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Are you dealing with the cattle passports?

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-We're dealing with cattle passports.

-OK.

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Cattle in particular, they have passports.

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Anything to do with that animal is all recorded by the farmer,

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so you can see the traceability aspect of where it's been

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and eventually where it ends up.

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This may not be the Costa Del Sol,

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but Sue still needs to carry out some spot-checks.

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So, I just selected one of your animals.

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It is this female here.

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So can you show me where she is?

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Like a human passport, cows each have a unique identity number.

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The number is matched to a tag that is placed within the animal's ear.

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Yeah, that's your herd number, UK 186453.

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-Yes.

-She's the 158th calf we've had.

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This four-legged tourist has Sue's stamp of approval.

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But Sue has plenty more checks to carry out.

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Like cattle, show animals such as horses also require a passport if they are

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to travel.

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So, this is Firtree Royal Princess.

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-What do you call her at home?

-Princess.

-She's a princess.

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Even royalty isn't pardoned.

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So, the requirements, then, are to have your animal identified by a

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silhouette. With Princess, she is black all over,

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so she won't have any distinguishing marks.

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Princess may not have any distinctive marks,

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but she does have a chip on her shoulder.

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A passport could fall into the wrong hands,

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and horses could be given a false identity.

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But if they are micro-chipped,

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there's only one single microchip and you cannot duplicate the microchip

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in the horse.

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And there's Princess's chip.

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And it is registered. That's the coding for our country.

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With show ponies, sheep and cattle all present, healthy and accounted for,

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this show can go on.

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When I turn up to do a farm inspection, it is very official.

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So this is nice, you get that chance to be a bit more friendly and, you know,

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I enjoy this part of my job as well.

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COW MOOS

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From livestock licenses to health and safety.

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One of the council's core services is to make sure that businesses are

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complying with the most up-to-date health and safety standards.

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PHONE RINGS

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Business compliance, Varsha speaking, how can I help?

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Today, Varsha Patel is getting public protection manager Helen Whitaker up

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to speed on a business hosting an extreme sport,

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where safety is paramount.

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This motocross track, there has been a new operator that has taken over

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the track. There were some previous health and safety concerns,

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but he wants us to go down and speak to him about them in detail.

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Yeah.

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Motocross is a dangerous, high octane hobby.

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Even on this practice track,

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riders can reach speeds of 50mph and jump to incredible heights.

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So it's no surprise that 95% of motocross riders

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have been injured on tracks like this.

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Varsha has visited this track before,

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after residents had called the council with complaints.

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Hi, Paul.

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Hiya.

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But now new manager Paul Smith hopes to prove his health and safety

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measures meet the council's standards.

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Before they brave the track,

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Varsha and Helen want to check Paul's paperwork.

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Before any rider goes on that track in the morning, I'll come here and

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I'll check the track, make sure it's OK.

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What we do is we have a pre-practice checklist.

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Have you got an emergency incident plan, then?

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Yep. For major incidents,

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we've got every type in there.

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The paperwork is in good order.

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But for Varsha, being safe is also being seen.

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In terms of the emergency incident plan,

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you need to have it displayed so that customers can see it.

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So, I can see you have got your site plan there.

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-There is going to be a bigger site plan than that on there.

-That would be good.

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Riders bring their own bikes to the track.

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But it's Paul who has a legal responsibility to make sure the owners

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aren't posing a hazard.

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Not just to other riders, but also to themselves.

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And what checks do you do on the bike before...?

0:19:220:19:25

All the levers here, you see?

0:19:250:19:26

They've got balls on them. So what you do if they fall off, they sometimes snap.

0:19:260:19:29

If that ball had broken off, we wouldn't have allowed him back on it.

0:19:290:19:32

There's a good chance that if someone falls on that, it is likely to pierce the skin.

0:19:320:19:36

Separation of spectators from fast moving motorbikes is a key concern.

0:19:380:19:43

Right, so, this area here that you've got roped off,

0:19:430:19:46

that's where the public can stand behind that?

0:19:460:19:48

The public aren't allowed beyond the notices.

0:19:480:19:51

This is a spot where a bike may run into a fence,

0:19:510:19:53

-and we don't want it hitting anyone in the public.

-Yeah.

0:19:530:19:56

The only people Paul allows near the track are trained marshals, who

0:19:560:20:00

monitor every section and provide the first response in an emergency.

0:20:000:20:04

So the communication to your riders on site is by flags,

0:20:040:20:08

-from the marshals?

-By flags.

0:20:080:20:10

A yellow flag - caution, ride with care.

0:20:100:20:12

Red flag means stop, kill your engines.

0:20:120:20:14

OK.

0:20:150:20:17

Having checked he understands and implements his safety measures,

0:20:180:20:22

they turn their attention to the track itself.

0:20:220:20:24

On Varsha's previous visit,

0:20:270:20:28

she found a serious issue with a specific section,

0:20:280:20:32

and wants to see if her recommended improvements have been made.

0:20:320:20:35

The main thing previously was the embankment.

0:20:350:20:38

-Yeah.

-And our worry was that riders would collide into the stone wall.

0:20:380:20:43

Because, at the time, there was no fencing or anything in place.

0:20:430:20:48

But now, he's managed to put tyres at the bends,

0:20:480:20:52

which is the area where they're most likely to hit if they are going to

0:20:520:20:55

-hit there.

-It's a good start, but for Varsha and Helen,

0:20:550:20:59

it's not nearly enough.

0:20:590:21:01

A large area of the wall is still exposed and could pose a danger to

0:21:010:21:05

riders. The tyres need to stretch the full length of the wall

0:21:050:21:08

to make it safe.

0:21:080:21:11

-The tyres, they need to be there as soon as possible, don't they? Cos this is the other bend.

-Yeah.

0:21:110:21:15

Obviously, it's an ongoing project.

0:21:150:21:17

This is going to be done within the next week or two.

0:21:170:21:19

-Obviously, you can see here, we've decided to put chestnut pailing up.

-Yeah.

0:21:190:21:23

This is going to continue right to the corner here.

0:21:230:21:25

-Right.

-The white fence you can see, it's actually quite sharp.

0:21:250:21:30

All this is being removed.

0:21:300:21:32

Paul recognises that he needs to do more,

0:21:330:21:36

and Varsha and Helen need to see evidence of change fast.

0:21:360:21:40

So, you're going to get that done, then? You can send us some photos.

0:21:400:21:44

They've agreed an action plan and will be back in 14 days expecting

0:21:440:21:48

results.

0:21:480:21:49

They brought up issues. We've tried to address them. We've not got everything perfect first

0:21:510:21:55

time. We're working with the council to get everything in place and

0:21:550:21:58

make it a safe environment for everybody.

0:21:580:22:00

Coming up: Will Paul manage to make enough changes to prevent serious

0:22:010:22:06

accidents on the track?

0:22:060:22:08

Young lives are riding on it.

0:22:080:22:10

The worst-case scenario,

0:22:100:22:12

you're looking at really serious injury or possible death.

0:22:120:22:15

There are 433 councils in the UK,

0:22:240:22:27

and they've all got one thing in common - cutbacks.

0:22:270:22:31

Since 2010,

0:22:330:22:34

Government austerity measures have seen local authority budgets cut by an

0:22:340:22:38

estimated £18 billion,

0:22:380:22:42

affecting vital services such as health and social care.

0:22:420:22:45

Times are tough, but not everyone is happy with how councils are coping.

0:22:470:22:51

Just because there's cuts doesn't mean to say they shouldn't be

0:22:520:22:55

operating efficiently, although nobody wants cuts, obviously.

0:22:550:22:58

I'm not happy with the council at all.

0:22:580:23:00

I think, to be fair, because of the way it's gone, the way it's run,

0:23:000:23:03

they're spending millions of pounds on buildings when they could be

0:23:030:23:06

spending on other things, helping people out.

0:23:060:23:09

I think the councils are having a really difficult time at the moment

0:23:090:23:12

because of the levels of cuts they are facing,

0:23:120:23:14

which means it's really hard for them to provide the basic services and

0:23:140:23:17

still provide all the social care services that are essential.

0:23:170:23:20

The health and happiness of residents is a primary concern for councils,

0:23:220:23:26

and one way Wigan Council are finding solutions to cuts to social care is

0:23:260:23:31

by joining forces with the emergency services.

0:23:310:23:34

Martin Coyne and Stephen Phillips are part of the

0:23:350:23:38

Community Risk Intervention Team, otherwise known as CRIT,

0:23:380:23:43

a new scheme run by the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service,

0:23:430:23:47

and supported by Wigan Council.

0:23:470:23:49

Together as a partnership, we thought,

0:23:490:23:52

how can we access these people earlier on

0:23:520:23:55

before they reach emergency services?

0:23:550:23:58

And that's the idea of the CRIT,

0:23:580:24:00

that we've got people going out into the person's home environment,

0:24:000:24:04

and hopefully doing some preventative work with them and hopefully stop

0:24:040:24:09

them from coming into local authority adult social care later on.

0:24:090:24:14

The team's work is twofold.

0:24:160:24:18

They reduce the pressure on the emergency services by being first

0:24:180:24:22

responders to low priority emergency calls,

0:24:220:24:25

and help the council by providing a range of preventative support.

0:24:250:24:30

All you can see here is our fire prevention stuff.

0:24:300:24:34

We fit smoke alarms, we hand out bedsheets that are fire retardant.

0:24:340:24:38

This is our trauma bag.

0:24:400:24:42

We respond to medical emergencies.

0:24:420:24:44

It could be anything from slips, trips and falls to cardiac arrests.

0:24:440:24:48

Every year, the ambulance service responds to

0:24:500:24:52

700,000 calls from older

0:24:520:24:54

people who have fallen and need help fast.

0:24:540:24:58

This is 10% of the total calls made to the service.

0:24:580:25:02

One man who's been forced to make regular calls for help is 84-year-old

0:25:050:25:09

Robert Sharples.

0:25:090:25:11

You have fallen once or twice.

0:25:110:25:15

Once in the middle of the night,

0:25:150:25:17

and in the doorway in there.

0:25:170:25:21

-Once in the hall.

-After another recent call to emergency services,

0:25:210:25:25

Stephen and Neil are en route to install a handy device to help keep him

0:25:250:25:29

-on his feet.

-Hello.

0:25:290:25:31

I gather you asked for a handrail somewhere.

0:25:310:25:34

It's here that's important.

0:25:340:25:36

-Yeah.

-On that side?

0:25:360:25:38

We'll let you choose exactly where and what height.

0:25:380:25:42

I had to send for a crew to lift me up the other week.

0:25:420:25:47

Is that why you got referred?

0:25:470:25:48

-From the chair to my Zimmer.

-Right, I see.

0:25:480:25:51

-Was that the ambulance...

-I was here all afternoon, I couldn't lift myself up.

-Ah.

0:25:510:25:55

A simple thing of just putting a grab rail,

0:25:570:26:01

it suddenly improves people's quality of life

0:26:010:26:04

and enables them to do things that, without them, they were really

0:26:040:26:09

struggling to do. It's not a big thing, but it is satisfying, really,

0:26:090:26:12

knowing that you can just do a little bit that makes somebody's life that

0:26:120:26:17

bit better for them.

0:26:170:26:18

With a new handrail fitted, Robert is steady on his feet

0:26:200:26:23

and feeling good.

0:26:230:26:26

That's better, isn't it?

0:26:260:26:28

-That's easier.

-That's good.

0:26:280:26:30

-Much easier.

-Job done.

0:26:300:26:32

This may seem like a small job,

0:26:320:26:34

but it will reduce the chance of people like Robert making an emergency call.

0:26:340:26:39

That's a godsend to us because I spend most of my time in my back room.

0:26:390:26:44

It's my little den.

0:26:440:26:46

HE LAUGHS

0:26:460:26:47

Even Mrs Sharples is impressed.

0:26:470:26:50

Oh, it's lovely! It looks posh.

0:26:500:26:53

SHE LAUGHS

0:26:530:26:54

With a hand rail fitted,

0:26:550:26:57

two more residents can feel more secure in their homes.

0:26:570:27:01

Stephen and Martin are now free to assist with rapid response calls for

0:27:010:27:05

the rest of their shift.

0:27:050:27:06

Environmental enforcement officer Alex Kay has been tackling a double

0:27:170:27:22

whammy of rubbish and rats in a back yard.

0:27:220:27:24

He called in colleague and veteran vermin expect Colin Evans to root out

0:27:260:27:31

where the rats were coming from.

0:27:310:27:32

A rat would chew through tarmac no problem whatsoever.

0:27:320:27:35

They found a weak spot and they've tunnelled out.

0:27:350:27:38

Rat runs found, Alex focused on removing the rodents' hiding place.

0:27:380:27:43

He gave the homeowner 28 days to clear the yard

0:27:430:27:47

or face the bill and a fine.

0:27:470:27:49

We've done all we can by the letter of the law,

0:27:490:27:52

so it's just a waiting game now.

0:27:520:27:54

Three weeks later, the rubbish hasn't been removed.

0:27:570:28:00

Some jobs are pretty straightforward, you know,

0:28:020:28:04

you turn up and there's a problem, there's waste accumulation.

0:28:040:28:07

We speak to the homeowners and we're able to get the waste cleared.

0:28:070:28:10

Other jobs are not so straightforward, like this one.

0:28:100:28:13

It's frustrating for Alex.

0:28:130:28:15

Legally, 28 days have to pass before the council can step in

0:28:150:28:19

and clear the rubbish.

0:28:190:28:21

But the rats' route to refuse is about to become roadblocked.

0:28:230:28:27

Their access to the alley is through a weak spot in the drain wall,

0:28:270:28:31

so Gary Williams and Wayne Gough from the council's highways team are here

0:28:310:28:35

to take action.

0:28:350:28:36

We're just trying to investigate to see what's, erm,

0:28:380:28:42

making the collapse. If it's anything serious.

0:28:420:28:45

So we'll go from there.

0:28:450:28:48

The drain is damaged.

0:28:480:28:50

And Gary and Wayne need to dig deeper to assess it.

0:28:500:28:53

But they've barely started when disaster strikes.

0:28:560:28:59

I think the water main is going across...

0:29:020:29:06

The connection is going across their hole.

0:29:060:29:08

That might have something to do with it.

0:29:080:29:10

There are more than 210,000 miles of

0:29:100:29:13

underground water pipes in the UK.

0:29:130:29:16

Enough to go around the world eight times.

0:29:160:29:19

The maze of water works are mapped, but if the plans aren't precise,

0:29:190:29:23

then a pipe can easily be damaged by nearby digging.

0:29:230:29:26

Sometimes the plans are wrong and they're slightly off.

0:29:260:29:31

You might have nicked a water or a drain.

0:29:310:29:33

-Either one of them.

-Because of the leak,

0:29:330:29:36

Gary and Wayne have no choice but to call in the local water company.

0:29:360:29:40

In the meantime, they battle to bring the burst pipe under control.

0:29:470:29:51

It doesn't seem like it's flowing as hard as it was.

0:29:560:29:59

We still have to make this safe

0:29:590:30:01

and make sure it's all secure for the public.

0:30:010:30:04

The homes still have a water supply, and the risk of flooding has passed.

0:30:060:30:11

But there's no end in sight for the beleaguered residents of this street.

0:30:110:30:15

Coming up:

0:30:190:30:20

Colin steps back into the breach.

0:30:200:30:23

Obviously they've not sent a team back yet.

0:30:230:30:26

Which I'll be chasing them up for, and giving them a bit of earache.

0:30:260:30:30

Animal health officer Sue Keane McPartlin is out on her rounds.

0:30:400:30:44

But this time she doesn't quite have the fun of the fair.

0:30:440:30:47

Today, she's inspecting a local dog boarding kennels licensed

0:30:490:30:52

by Wigan Council. To operate,

0:30:520:30:56

the owners must be complying with all licence conditions.

0:30:560:30:59

And the best way to check this - turn up unannounced.

0:30:590:31:03

The reason I carry out unannounced visits is because

0:31:040:31:08

I'm able to see the

0:31:080:31:10

kennels, how they're working in a day-to-day situation.

0:31:100:31:13

Nothing's been prepared for me.

0:31:130:31:14

I'm going to see, basically, the kennel today as it is, warts and all.

0:31:140:31:18

If anything's going on that shouldn't be going on, I'll find it today.

0:31:180:31:22

DOG BARKS

0:31:220:31:24

All boarding kennels in the UK must

0:31:250:31:27

be licensed by their local council.

0:31:270:31:30

In Wigan, there are nearly 30 licence holders.

0:31:300:31:34

They must prove that they have adequate facilities to cater to the

0:31:340:31:37

animals' daily needs, and keep them healthy and safe.

0:31:370:31:41

They could have their licence revoked, face a fine of up to £500 and,

0:31:410:31:47

in extreme cases, even prison if the licence conditions aren't being met.

0:31:470:31:51

Hello, good morning. Mr Higginbottom?

0:31:530:31:54

Hi, it's Sue, I'm the animal health inspector from Wigan Council.

0:31:540:31:58

-Yeah.

-I've just come to do an interim inspection in relation to your

0:31:580:32:03

-boarding establishment licence for dogs.

-That's fine, yeah.

-It's fine.

0:32:030:32:06

-Can we start going through?

-Yeah, of course you can.

0:32:060:32:09

The first signs are good.

0:32:110:32:13

I can see there that you have got the licence displayed.

0:32:140:32:17

And what about your records of your clients?

0:32:170:32:21

All the records are kept on computer. Then any booking forms are done daily.

0:32:210:32:24

And have you printed this off from your system?

0:32:240:32:26

Yeah. So I'll have when the vaccinations are due from the vets,

0:32:260:32:29

and all the records from the home and how long they're staying.

0:32:290:32:33

-OK. And this is one of the vaccination cards that you will actually take in?

-Yeah.

0:32:330:32:38

It's vital that all dogs entering boarding kennels have up-to-date

0:32:400:32:44

vaccinations.

0:32:440:32:45

If they haven't, diseases like canine parvovirus

0:32:450:32:49

and distemper can spread from dog to dog easily.

0:32:490:32:52

And with potentially devastating results.

0:32:520:32:55

This particular dog, leptospirosis, parvovirus and distemper -

0:32:550:32:58

it's been vaccinated against those diseases.

0:32:580:33:01

-Excellent.

-The kennels seem to have strict standards when it comes to an

0:33:010:33:05

animal's medical history.

0:33:050:33:07

They only accept vaccinated animals.

0:33:070:33:09

You know, you know that your dog is not going to be put at risk by coming into

0:33:090:33:14

contact on the same premises with an unvaccinated animal.

0:33:140:33:18

The paperwork may be in order,

0:33:180:33:20

but will Sue be happy when she inspects the kennels?

0:33:200:33:23

I'll be looking for things like mixing dogs that are not from the same home.

0:33:240:33:29

You can understand there's quite a high disease risk there.

0:33:290:33:32

I'll be looking that the kennels are

0:33:320:33:36

cleansed and disinfected properly.

0:33:360:33:38

I need to see nice, happy, healthy dogs.

0:33:380:33:41

-How many kennels do you have?

-We've got 24 kennels.

0:33:420:33:45

24 kennels.

0:33:450:33:47

And each kennel, some can hold one dog, some hold two,

0:33:470:33:50

and some can hold three. I never mix any dogs from separate families.

0:33:500:33:54

OK, excellent. That's good, that's what we recommend as well.

0:33:540:33:59

I think the average family now has

0:33:590:34:00

-two dogs, don't they?

-I've got five!

-Oh, right.

0:34:000:34:04

That's a big family, yeah.

0:34:040:34:05

With five dogs of his own to look after, as well as all his other guests,

0:34:070:34:11

Mr Higginbotham has a big job on his hands.

0:34:110:34:14

Will his hygiene levels live up to Sue's expectations?

0:34:140:34:18

They've all got water available,

0:34:180:34:21

the tiling area to the wall and above is capable of being cleansed and

0:34:210:34:26

disinfected. The floor is good as well,

0:34:260:34:29

you can see it's got a nice fall away into this gutter here.

0:34:290:34:34

Which actually runs down into a grid.

0:34:340:34:37

So there's no urine or anything

0:34:370:34:41

passing through into another dog's

0:34:410:34:44

kennel. So that's excellent, that's really good.

0:34:440:34:47

They're practically ensuite.

0:34:470:34:51

I'm really pleased with these kennels.

0:34:510:34:53

The kennels are ticking all the right boxes,

0:34:550:34:57

and so far are not only satisfying the terms of the license,

0:34:570:35:01

but are also going the extra mile with an outdoor area.

0:35:010:35:05

I'm just looking at the dog that's out at the moment.

0:35:050:35:08

He's got a lovely shiny coat, he looks happy, his tail is wagging.

0:35:080:35:13

But I must say, this is above what is required,

0:35:130:35:16

so it's quite clear that the owner of this premise

0:35:160:35:20

takes looking after the dogs really seriously.

0:35:200:35:23

But Sue still has one more question to ask.

0:35:240:35:29

I've been noticing your fire extinguishers around the place.

0:35:290:35:33

It's good. Do you have a fire plan?

0:35:330:35:36

Not on paper, but we know if there is a problem or there is a fire

0:35:370:35:41

-to evacuate them all and take them all over in the far...

-OK.

0:35:410:35:46

The licence requires that a written fire plan be in place.

0:35:460:35:50

In case of an emergency, the evacuation procedure

0:35:500:35:53

and meeting points need to be crystal clear to ensure

0:35:530:35:57

the staff know the routine to get the animals out quickly and safely.

0:35:570:36:01

-You're capable of having 40 dogs here as well, aren't you?

-Yeah.

0:36:010:36:04

So you really need a written plan in place

0:36:040:36:06

-that everybody is familiar with.

-Yeah.

-Maybe one in each block,

0:36:060:36:10

so it says in case of fire where you are all to go,

0:36:100:36:15

-just in case the dogs need to be...

-Yeah. I'll get one sorted out..

-OK.

0:36:150:36:19

It's a concern. But based on the attention to detail she's seen

0:36:200:36:24

everywhere else, Sue shows her bark is worse than her bite.

0:36:240:36:28

You know, unannounced visit, you didn't know I was coming,

0:36:280:36:31

but you've been able to show me everything.

0:36:310:36:33

You had your records handy, and I'm very pleased.

0:36:330:36:36

-Good.

-It's a good kennel.

-Glad to hear, thanks.

-Thank you very much.

0:36:360:36:40

Sue returned less than a week later

0:36:400:36:43

and the fire evacuation procedure had been clearly displayed.

0:36:430:36:47

There we go.

0:36:480:36:49

I understand the reason the spot checks are done,

0:36:490:36:52

cos you've got to make sure

0:36:520:36:54

the dogs' and animals' welfare is coming first.

0:36:540:36:57

It is right that this kennels is licensed. I would personally say,

0:36:570:37:01

don't leave your animal anywhere that is not a licensed premise.

0:37:010:37:06

Environmental health inspector Varsha Patel

0:37:180:37:21

and public protection manager Helen Whitaker have been tasked

0:37:210:37:25

with checking safety standards at a local motocross track.

0:37:250:37:29

Following their first inspection, Varsha had serious concerns

0:37:290:37:32

about an exposed brick wall that posed a big risk to the riders.

0:37:320:37:37

Our worry was that riders would collide into the stone wall.

0:37:370:37:42

Manager Paul had partial barriers in place.

0:37:420:37:45

Obviously it's an ongoing project.

0:37:450:37:47

-This is going to be done in the next week or two.

-But it wasn't enough.

0:37:470:37:51

The tyres need to be there as soon as possible, don't they?

0:37:510:37:53

Cos this is the other bend.

0:37:530:37:55

It's been two weeks since the initial inspection.

0:37:580:38:01

And they're back to see if Paul has made headway with the wall.

0:38:010:38:05

-Hi, Paul, hi, Matt.

-Hi. Are you well?

-Nice to see you.

-Hello.

0:38:050:38:11

The wall runs along one entire side of the track.

0:38:130:38:16

It's a big job, but has Paul provided the right

0:38:160:38:19

protection in this short amount of time?

0:38:190:38:22

As you can see we've removed the white fencing, the plastic stuff.

0:38:240:38:28

-You put the green netting on there now to replace that.

-Yeah.

0:38:280:38:31

We've extended the chestnut paling,

0:38:310:38:34

and if you look behind you can see

0:38:340:38:36

we covered the wall you were concerned about with tyres

0:38:360:38:38

and we dressed it to make it look a bit more presentable

0:38:380:38:41

-with the green netting.

-So that goes along the embankment then.

0:38:410:38:44

You can see about three quarters down there's a gap of about

0:38:440:38:47

25 yards that we need to fill.

0:38:470:38:49

-The tyres have been dropped off at that line.

-OK.

0:38:490:38:51

Paul has made excellent progress, but the wall needs to be

0:38:530:38:56

completely covered before Varsha and Helen can sign it off as 100% safe.

0:38:560:39:02

It is a dangerous sport.

0:39:020:39:04

The worst case scenario would be somebody coming around here at speed

0:39:040:39:07

and going straight into a stone embankment.

0:39:070:39:10

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

0:39:100:39:13

That would be the worst case scenario, which is absolutely

0:39:130:39:17

neither what he wants not what we want, nor anybody coming here.

0:39:170:39:20

Nobody wants that.

0:39:200:39:21

So it's really important that you have this sort of thing in place.

0:39:210:39:25

It's time for Varsha and Helen to deliver their final verdict.

0:39:250:39:28

It's a lot better than it was, isn't it?

0:39:300:39:32

There are some improvements that you still need to make.

0:39:320:39:35

So if you can inform us when you've done those, maybe send us

0:39:350:39:38

-some photos and then take it from there.

-Yeah, OK.

0:39:380:39:42

-Fine.

-We'll call it a day. Thank you very much.

-Nice to see you again.

0:39:420:39:46

With motor sport, you can't eliminate all the risks.

0:39:490:39:52

There are risks to riders.

0:39:520:39:54

But we can make sure as regulators that we can make the track and

0:39:540:39:59

the procedures and the management of the track as safe as possible.

0:39:590:40:03

Over four weeks ago, council officers Alex Kay and Colin Evans

0:40:150:40:18

responded to a call from local resident Barbara Paige

0:40:180:40:22

about a rubbish-filled yard that had attracted rats.

0:40:220:40:25

Instead of having it removed like they should do

0:40:260:40:29

or taking it to the tip themselves, they're just using this as a tip.

0:40:290:40:33

Colin managed to sniff out the rats' route,

0:40:330:40:36

but it hasn't all been plain sailing.

0:40:360:40:38

Alex has also had issues in locating the house owner

0:40:410:40:44

to get the rubbish cleared.

0:40:440:40:46

Hopefully they'll get in touch with me, but if not,

0:40:460:40:48

in 28 days we'll have a resolution anyway.

0:40:480:40:51

28 days later, with no response,

0:40:530:40:56

Alex had no choice but to take action.

0:40:560:40:59

He's tasked a council team with completely clearing the yard,

0:41:000:41:04

and he's back to check their work.

0:41:040:41:06

Marvellous. Completely clear, all the waste's gone.

0:41:110:41:15

Yeah, I'm happy with that. It's a good job.

0:41:150:41:18

When councils are forced to take action in situations like this,

0:41:180:41:21

they make sure owners foot the bill sooner or later.

0:41:210:41:25

If we get no response from the person that owns the property

0:41:250:41:28

and we don't get any payment,

0:41:280:41:30

Wigan Council will put a charge on the property via the Land Registry,

0:41:300:41:33

which means that once the property is sold,

0:41:330:41:35

Wigan Council will get its money back first before

0:41:350:41:38

the remainder of the balance will go to the person who owns the property.

0:41:380:41:41

Getting a bill is never nice,

0:41:430:41:45

but one resident who's happy with the outcome is house-proud Barbara.

0:41:450:41:50

I'm pleased they've done it, very pleased.

0:41:500:41:53

You felt itchy and creepy if you went near it, it were that bad.

0:41:530:41:56

And you think, God, how've I ended up living near that?

0:41:580:42:01

Alex's work is done.

0:42:040:42:06

But Colin's half of the job still has a gaping hole in it.

0:42:080:42:12

So what's happened here?

0:42:140:42:16

They've done a repair on this water pipe,

0:42:160:42:18

but obviously they've not sent a team back yet.

0:42:180:42:22

But once that's filled in, we're done, aren't we?

0:42:220:42:24

Get that filled now, Tarmacked up, job's a good'un. Sorted.

0:42:240:42:29

I'll be chasing them up, giving them a bit of earache.

0:42:290:42:32

Yeah, no probs. Cheers, pal.

0:42:320:42:35

Colin heads back to the council

0:42:350:42:37

to give the utilities company a polite hurry-up.

0:42:370:42:41

Three weeks later, and the hole still hadn't been filled in.

0:42:410:42:45

It's been a busy shift for Wigan's council officers.

0:42:560:42:59

They've got revved up over a risky motocross track...

0:43:000:43:03

The tyres need to be there as soon as possible, don't they?

0:43:030:43:06

Checked livestock licences and made sure pets are properly cared for...

0:43:060:43:10

-I wish you luck today.

-Thank you very much.

-See how the job goes.

0:43:100:43:14

And made a vermin problem vanish.

0:43:140:43:17

Have a look. Nice and clear.

0:43:170:43:20

-No sign of any rats.

-Wonderful.

0:43:200:43:22

All this when residents called the council.

0:43:220:43:25

Council officers in Wigan battle against rubbish and rodents in a backyard, inspect the health of all creatures great and small at an agricultural show and assess the safety of adrenalin seekers at a motocross track.


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