Episode 15 Call the Council


Episode 15

Series following the work of Wigan's council officers. Officers battle to bring new business into the borough and to provide safe foster homes for young people.


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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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It's not acceptable, really.

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..bringing the community together...

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How are you doing? Hi.

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..and being on hand in troubled times.

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

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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.

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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.

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"How 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...

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I mean, it's constant.

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You will 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 doing, anyway.

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..when they...

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PHONE RINGS What was the enquiry today?

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..call the council.

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Coming up in today's programme...

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One mess leads to another.

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That will let rats escape from the drainage system.

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Council officers try to find new foster homes

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for Wigan's children in need...

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You can see that we've got very little space for teenagers.

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The council's chief exec faces tough talking from local residents...

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It is gridlocked right to the motorway.

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..and a scary new business looks to make Wigan its home.

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Can we have a look around? Yeah.

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This way. You go first.

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I just keep expecting something to jump out at me.

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Local authorities across the country

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have a responsibility for the economic, social

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and environmental wellbeing of their area.

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Back yards are a constant problem for councils.

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They can become an eyesore, the source of smells,

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or even the home of disease-carrying vermin.

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Local authorities have a variety of specialist teams

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to tackle back yard nuisance in all its forms,

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and the power to prosecute residents,

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whether they are council tenants or not.

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Barry Pilkington from Wigan Council. Oh, yeah.

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If you've got a dirty yard in Wigan,

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it's likely that public protection officer Barry Pilkington

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will come knocking.

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If there is a problem, then it is my job

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to bring the problem to a satisfactory resolution.

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Now, that may be by education -

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and we hope to educate.

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If I can make you realise the error of your ways,

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that's always going to be the best outcome.

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Today, Barry's gone out to visit one of the borough's dog owners.

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I'm here for a complaint of the occupier of this property.

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He's failing to pick up the dog fouling

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when required.

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It appears that they're not in.

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Basically, I just want to have a chat with him first of all.

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See what's going on. You know, how serious is it?

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It may just be a bit of a conversation.

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Somebody might have been poorly, or whatever -

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get to the bottom of what's going on, really.

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It's just investigation at this point.

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With no reply from the owner,

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Barry leaves his calling card and goes on the hunt.

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If anyone can sniff out the foul failings of a pet owner, he can.

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Nothing will stand in his way.

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That's not too bad. Not too bad.

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It seems like a bit of a wasted journey -

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but, just as Barry lets one resident off the hook,

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another may well have just got caught.

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Come for one thing, and we find another.

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If you look at this, there's bins here full of rubbish.

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Soft furnishings, that's my main priority,

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and also that soil vent pipe.

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That will let rats escape from the drainage system.

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We need to get that looked into.

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This surprise discovery

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could be one of over

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three quarters of a million cases

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of illegally dumped rubbish

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that councils have to deal with every year...

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but officer Barry won't be dealing with this one.

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Ultimately, it's about working smarter, not harder.

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If I'm on site here, I don't want to ignore anything,

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because whilst I'm here,

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I can bring it to the attention of other sections -

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like the rubbish, like the soil vent pipe.

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It's obviously a vacant property, this.

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Looks as though somebody's, er...

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..moved out of the property and just left it in the state that it's in.

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So, now, unfortunately, it will be up to the council

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to contact the person who owns it

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to clean up the yard and to fix that soil vent pipe.

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As this is the case of waste accumulation,

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it needs to be passed on to the environmental enforcement team.

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I'm ringing from Wigan Council waste services.

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Mark Farrimond.

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Barry believes that the shocking state of the yard

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is down to the neglect of the owner -

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but their fate is no longer in his hands.

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

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The property is in a real bad state.

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Coming up, Mark Farrimond takes over...

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It's not good. Yeah, there's a lot of stuff here, isn't there?

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..and the search for the culprit widens.

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I think some of it's perhaps been dumped in the property, as well.

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Councils across the country have a responsibility

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to help those residents who are most in need.

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Hi! Hello.

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From the eldest...

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A bit of fresh air helps, it makes you feel a bit better.

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..to the very youngest.

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Ta, love.

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Two children, 0-2...

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..and it's saying she's a priority,

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so, she's no children in placement, has she?

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Senior social worker Kath Clark and the fostering team at Wigan Council

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dedicate themselves to ensuring children

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who can't live with their own birth families have the kind of caring,

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stable and loving homes all children need...

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..and this already challenging task is getting tougher.

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The number of children that's come into care

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has risen steadily over the years.

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Our first priority is to try and return children back to families,

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but if that's not possible

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and they can't be adopted for whatever reason,

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then the next best, really, is family life with a foster carer.

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There are more than 63,000 children

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living with foster families

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across the UK -

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but the nation urgently needs more.

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At least another 8,000 families

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are needed

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to look after all of the children

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currently in care.

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And then I do think it's worth getting in touch

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and looking at what's in place and where the gaps are.

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Trying to secure a foster home for every child in need is tough.

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But, for Kath and the team,

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there's one group that are proving almost impossible to place.

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Teenagers.

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People think that, "Oh, I'd never touch teenagers

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"because they're going to be off the wall,

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"they going to wreck my house,"

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but those are myths.

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The majority of teenagers do settle down well, they do well at school.

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They just appreciate coming into a stable family life

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and getting away from, perhaps, the difficulties they had at home.

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The majority of young people are not off the rails.

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We just hear about the ones that are.

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Today, Kath and the rest of the team are holding their annual meeting

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for existing carers in the borough.

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The people here already foster or have fostered.

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It's a great chance to tackle the shortage of spaces

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for teenagers head on.

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With all the research that's been done,

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our existing foster carers are the best resource -

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immensely valuable to us -

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and if we can actually

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dispel some of the myths about teenagers,

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look at what support they need,

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and some of those say, "Yes, we will look at teenagers,"

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I think that's going to be a good recruitment.

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Inside, the room is full of people

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who could potentially take on teenagers.

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Kath needs to make the most of this opportunity.

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I'm really pleased with how many foster carers have turned up.

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There must be over 100 people in the room.

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So, that's superb. That's really good.

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Kath's enlisted the help of someone

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who has successfully fostered teenagers.

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Carl.

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He's happy to address the challenges that they present,

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and pass on his experiences.

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..the confrontations.

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There are talks of, sort of, threats and shouting.

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This can happen.

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One young person we looked after

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refused to come home until they could have chips,

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hair straighteners and fizzy drinks.

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I find foster carers are all passionate people.

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We all have a lot to say.

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It's that enthusiasm, I feel,

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that makes a foster carer do what they do.

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There are challenges

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and you have to hit them with enthusiasm and head on.

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..Kath outlines the scale of the shortfall in the borough.

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So, it isn't saying you're not doing a fantastic job,

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because we know you are,

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but, looking at that, you can see that we've got very little space -

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nobody on there is for teenagers.

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Time for Kath to open the floor for some tough talking.

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What's your barriers to taking teenagers?

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One of the barriers for people taking on teenagers

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is they do display a lot of challenging behaviours -

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but, then, when they are challenging,

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it's, what is the support out there?

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They might have had a lot of placements,

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suffered a lot of trauma, things like that.

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We need everybody on board with us to support us in that way.

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Some of today's carers have had difficult experiences

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with the fostering system -

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but the council does have training and support available,

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and when it comes to fostering teenagers,

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others have fond memories to recount.

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He was a 17-year-old boy, said he was a teenager from hell,

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and that was my first placement.

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The outcome was he came, he was a gentleman.

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Please think about teenagers.

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I think they get lost in the system, I think they get forgotten.

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Please, please think about teenagers,

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because I think it's been, like you said,

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one of the best things I've ever done in my life,

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and I'd do it again and again and again.

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Heart-warming recollections like these are music to Kath's ears.

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I think, for me, the people who speak the best

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are those that's got the teenagers, those that spoke up

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saying what it was like having them.

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Kath's winning some hearts and minds.

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Perhaps the teens aren't so troublesome after all...

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It's just accepting that

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they're just kids.

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Just kids who want a start in life.

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The thing that my children say to me is,

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"We just want normality."

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They just want it to be normal.

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As the event draws to a close, all Kath can do is wait.

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Will some of those present consider taking on teens?

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I think it's been a really good day. It's been brilliant.

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Got a really good turnout, lots of good suggestions,

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lots of people interested in teenagers.

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Three months later and Kath has some good news.

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Since the meeting that we had,

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we've actually had quite a bit of success.

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We've placed three teenagers with foster carers

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who were at the meeting

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and we've got another three sets of foster carers who've come forward

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and said that they would like to take a teenager as well.

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So, we're really, really pleased with that. It's been great.

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It is good news for Kath and her team,

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but their search continues across the borough.

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If anyone is interested, we're just putting their names in this book.

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Right.

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They have a long way to go to find enough foster carers

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who are willing and able to help.

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For a resident who needs help in their borough,

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often the first port of call is the council.

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Welcome to Wigan contact centre. Sarah speaking.

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Wigan Council's call centre receives over a million calls a year.

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Most of the time, they know how they can help -

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but some requests leave them lost for words.

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You think you have heard it all,

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and then you get days when you think, "No, I haven't!"

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Anything could come through.

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Last week I had one guy ring up and he said,

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I want to take my mum to the tip. Do I need a permit for her?

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I thought, "Well, not really.

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"It depends what you want to do with her!"

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I'll tell you what's funny.

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When they ring and they're on the toilet

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or in the bath and you can hear them.

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That's... You know!

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And then they flush the toilet, or you can hear them in the bath.

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That's a bit, er, awkward.

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I had an older lady ringing.

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"I'm ringing to see what time he's coming out to see me."

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And I'm saying, "Who?"

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"Who are you expecting?"

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"The doctor!"

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A lady rung a bit ago.

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There was like a beanbag and the balls had gone all over her garden.

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She didn't know who'd done it, what had happened,

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and she wanted us to go and clear up all these tiny beanbag balls.

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And...she couldn't understand why we wouldn't go and do that.

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We did have one old lady once, she'd lost her false teeth.

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And I think her first port of call was to call the council.

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You think, like, as much as I understand your problem,

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there's nothing I can do about your false teeth for you!

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Following a routine house-call,

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officer Barry Pilkington stumbled across a back yard

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that had gone beyond an eyesore

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and could be putting the health of neighbours at risk.

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Soft furnishings, that's my main priority -

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and, also, that soil vent pipe,

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that will let rats escape from the drainage system.

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We need to get that looked into.

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He's passed the baton

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to the council's environmental enforcement team,

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and now Mark Farrimond is hot on the case.

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A colleague of mine, Barry Pilkington,

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he's passed this job over to me.

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I'm just going to nip round the back,

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have a look in the back garden and the how bad it is with the waste.

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As the property was empty,

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Barry thought that the occupiers threw their rubbish

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in the back yard before leaving...

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..but with no locked gate to the yard,

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it's been open access for anyone to dump their rubbish.

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So, who is really to blame?

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With fines of up to ?50,000

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and a criminal record for those found guilty of back yard dumping,

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he has to be sure of the facts.

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Looking at it, it's not good.

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Yeah, there's a lot of stuff here, isn't there?

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Erm, some of it, perhaps, has come out of the property.

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I think some of it has perhaps been dumped in the property, as well.

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Mark checks every inch of the yard in his search for evidence...

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..and on second viewing it looks like the homeowner

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might not be entirely at fault after all.

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Erm... There's a lot of bricks and other debris over in that corner.

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Which doesn't really marry up with what's here.

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We've got concrete posts that's been sawn with a grinder,

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and other...quite a bit of rubble.

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Which is mainly outside building work, really, rather than inside.

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It'll be a case of finding out who's the owner of the property

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and getting in touch with them, really.

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Maybe they don't... They're not aware of the state the place is in.

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Probably go to council tax,

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see if they've got any details on the owner of the property.

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There's not much more else we can do at this present time.

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But it's in a state, there's no doubt about that, and it's...

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It's not pleasant for the actual residents living next door to it.

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This has turned from unsightly waste to a potential fly tipping case.

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Still to come...Mark is faced with a barrier to his investigation.

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I wouldn't like to think how many tonnage of waste was in there.

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Builders' rubble, concrete...

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A horror theme company could breathe new life into Wigan...

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This building has got a feeling to it.

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I wouldn't want to be walking through here at night on my own.

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..and the council's chief exec faces tough talking from local residents.

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It is gridlocked right to the motorway.

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With cuts in government funding to councils across the UK,

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local authorities are keener than ever

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to encourage new businesses into their area,

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bringing jobs and financial benefits to everyone.

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Steve from Wigan Council.

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'Hello, Steve. How are you?'

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Steve Burns is a development project manager for Wigan Council.

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His job is to attract new businesses to the borough

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and help existing companies grow.

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It's really important that we bring in new businesses.

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It's about creating new jobs,

0:18:550:18:58

it's about all those spin-off benefits,

0:18:580:19:01

it's about upskilling local people,

0:19:010:19:04

so, I think attracting business generates all of those things.

0:19:040:19:09

Bye-bye.

0:19:090:19:10

It also has financial benefits for the local authority.

0:19:180:19:22

It means added income from business rates.

0:19:250:19:28

Higher employment means more council tax,

0:19:280:19:30

and it has a snowball effect,

0:19:300:19:32

stimulating more commerce, creating even more jobs.

0:19:320:19:36

Today, Steve and development project officer Karen Guest

0:19:390:19:42

are meeting two entrepreneurs

0:19:420:19:44

who want to bring an exciting and unusual business to Wigan.

0:19:440:19:48

We're going to meet a company that have got in touch with us

0:19:480:19:52

with a new concept.

0:19:520:19:54

A theme on the horror attraction.

0:19:540:19:58

So, you can imagine us, to get an enquiry through like that,

0:19:580:20:01

it starts to make you think what kind of thing they'll be doing -

0:20:010:20:05

but they came in, spoke to us, and really sold the concept to us.

0:20:050:20:10

I think, from a Wigan perspective,

0:20:100:20:13

bringing in visitors,

0:20:130:20:15

it's going to create jobs.

0:20:150:20:16

It's going to be fantastic.

0:20:160:20:18

The issue we've got is that they really want to start moving quickly.

0:20:180:20:23

So, part of what our role is to do is to facilitate that,

0:20:230:20:26

make things work quicker.

0:20:260:20:29

I think we are probably in competition

0:20:290:20:31

with neighbouring authorities,

0:20:310:20:33

so we really have got to start working pretty quickly

0:20:330:20:36

to find them some space,

0:20:360:20:37

and hopefully some of the properties we're going to show them today

0:20:370:20:41

will suit what they need to do

0:20:410:20:42

and hopefully we can get the ball rolling.

0:20:420:20:47

As the company specialises in scare attractions,

0:20:470:20:50

corporate events and theatre,

0:20:500:20:52

they're looking for a unique and quirky location.

0:20:520:20:55

So, this is the older property.

0:21:060:21:11

It gives you that presence straightaway in Wigan.

0:21:110:21:14

I think it's worth having a look.

0:21:140:21:17

With a temporary venue already up and running in Manchester,

0:21:170:21:21

they're considering Wigan as a permanent home

0:21:210:21:26

It's an ugly building.

0:21:260:21:27

It's absolutely horrible, Steve.

0:21:270:21:29

The worst one that you've brought us to.

0:21:290:21:32

It's in a right old state. We like ugly buildings.

0:21:320:21:34

I thought you'd like the... It is, exactly!

0:21:340:21:36

..potential. Potential. I did say potential! That's estate agent talk.

0:21:360:21:39

I did say potential.

0:21:390:21:41

But it can be used.

0:21:410:21:43

This would be something that we could move quick...

0:21:430:21:47

Yes. ..and fast on.

0:21:470:21:48

It would... You know, we'd overlook how...

0:21:480:21:52

Yeah. ..grotty and disgusting it is!

0:21:520:21:59

The council have access to the records

0:21:590:22:06

By contacting Steve,

0:22:060:22:18

The council have sent them details of over 200 properties,

0:22:180:22:22

and they've viewed around 50 in the local area.

0:22:220:22:25

Today, they are visiting another four and with options running out,

0:22:250:22:31

Fantastic, thank you.

0:22:310:22:33

It's a Victorian canalside warehouse -

0:22:350:22:38

but, more recently, it was home to a museum

0:22:380:22:41

dedicated to the history of Wigan Pier.

0:22:410:22:44

Light-wise,...

0:22:440:22:46

It's a really cool space.

0:22:460:22:47

It is a cool space, isn't it?

0:22:470:22:49

It appears to have struck a chord.

0:22:510:22:53

You couldn't build it, could you?

0:22:530:22:54

No, it would cost us a fortune.

0:22:540:22:56

You don't get buildings like this any more, do you?

0:22:560:22:58

No, you don't. So, what's the story?

0:22:580:23:00

This was the former The Way We Were Museum. OK.

0:23:000:23:05

Which closed around about 5-6 years ago. OK.

0:23:050:23:10

It's like...the Globe Theatre.

0:23:100:23:13

It is, isn't it?

0:23:130:23:15

But could it be a suitable home for a theatre of the undead?

0:23:270:23:30

Steve has a supernatural story up his sleeve, which may help swing it.

0:23:340:23:39

There's a football, and also a potato.

0:23:440:23:47

Every time we came in, it would be in a different place.

0:23:470:23:50

Wow.

0:23:500:23:52

This place at night is going to give that whole

0:23:530:23:56

"Well, it must be haunted" feel. Yeah. And does half of our job...

0:23:560:24:00

Does it for you. ..for us.

0:24:000:24:02

We'd have to think about how we

0:24:020:24:04

enhance what's... Yeah. ..what's here.

0:24:040:24:07

And that's what brings challenges,

0:24:070:24:09

as well as opportunities, doesn't it? Yes, absolutely.

0:24:090:24:13

The building itself is in a conservation area.

0:24:130:24:15

So, any changes to the building would need...

0:24:150:24:19

but, again, these are things we...

0:24:190:24:21

These are the conversations we can start to have. Yeah.

0:24:210:24:24

This building has got a feeling to it.

0:24:260:24:29

I wouldn't want to be walking through here at night

0:24:290:24:33

on my own in the dark,

0:24:330:24:34

which... That's exactly the sort of building we're looking for.

0:24:340:24:38

The entrepreneurs have seen all of the properties on offer today,

0:24:420:24:45

but if their business has any chance of operating in Wigan,

0:24:450:24:49

they'll need to find a suitable location - and soon.

0:24:490:24:53

Thank you very much for your time. Thanks for your time.

0:24:530:24:55

We're under some pressure to move quick.

0:24:550:24:57

They're keen to come into Wigan.

0:24:570:24:59

As I've said, we're really keen to see them -

0:24:590:25:01

but I think we're getting to a point now

0:25:010:25:03

where we are literally running out of time.

0:25:030:25:06

I'm aware they've looked at a couple of properties

0:25:060:25:09

in neighbouring authorities, so, like I said,

0:25:090:25:11

we've really got to push some of these today

0:25:110:25:14

and, hopefully, let's make it happen.

0:25:140:25:15

Coming up, Steve has some grave news for the entrepreneurs.

0:25:250:25:29

Getting you into Wigan quickly,

0:25:290:25:32

it just doesn't fit with your timescales at the moment.

0:25:320:25:36

But a creepy encounter could save this deal from an untimely death.

0:25:360:25:41

You'll have to hold my hand! THEY LAUGH

0:25:410:25:43

I just keep expecting something to jump out at me.

0:25:440:25:47

Mark Farrimond has been dealing with a case of back yard dumping

0:25:560:25:59

that had spiralled out of control.

0:25:590:26:02

It's not good!

0:26:020:26:03

Yeah, there's a lot of stuff here, isn't there?

0:26:030:26:06

Household waste, suspected to be from the owner,

0:26:060:26:08

may have been added to by illegal fly tipping -

0:26:080:26:12

which was all perfect cover for rats with an easy escape route

0:26:120:26:15

from an open soil pipe.

0:26:150:26:17

Since then, Mark's been doing some detective work -

0:26:190:26:22

but it hasn't made the case any less complicated.

0:26:220:26:25

I've done a land registry search.

0:26:280:26:30

I've ended up finding out

0:26:300:26:31

that it's somebody in Monaco that owns the property.

0:26:310:26:35

They've advised me that they have done all the work that was needed.

0:26:350:26:39

So we'll go out and check it and see if that's all right with us.

0:26:390:26:43

Mark can't take a phone call from 800 miles away

0:26:450:26:48

as proof that the work's been done,

0:26:480:26:50

so he heads out to revisit the offending property.

0:26:500:26:53

On arrival, he's faced with one obvious change.

0:26:580:27:02

We asked for a gate to be put on to prevent further fly tipping

0:27:040:27:08

and they've boarded up the... where the gate was.

0:27:080:27:12

They've put a substantial piece of wood on there

0:27:120:27:16

to stop it being torn off, and anybody gaining access to the yard.

0:27:160:27:21

I'm just looking through this small gap.

0:27:210:27:24

The board may be a good deterrent for fly tippers,

0:27:240:27:26

but is it simply masking the rubbish that was already there?

0:27:260:27:30

There's only one way to find out,

0:27:300:27:33

and Mark has just the technical equipment for the job.

0:27:330:27:36

But what can he see from his lofty position?

0:27:420:27:45

Yeah, all the work's been carried out

0:27:480:27:50

and the soil stack's been repaired.

0:27:500:27:51

It's been carried out to a good standard.

0:27:510:27:54

I'll take some photographs for my own peace of mind...

0:27:540:27:56

..so that I know the work's been done.

0:27:580:28:00

They've done a very good job.

0:28:030:28:05

I wouldn't like to think how many tonnage of waste was in there,

0:28:050:28:08

because there was a lot of rubble, builder's rubble, concrete

0:28:080:28:12

and an assortment of waste.

0:28:120:28:14

Yes, they've done a very good job and there's nothing else remaining.

0:28:140:28:17

I did think we'd end up serving notice on the property

0:28:190:28:21

because with them living in Monaco, I thought the letter may take...

0:28:210:28:25

Well, it may never get there -

0:28:250:28:28

but, obviously, it has done,

0:28:280:28:29

so that's a good result for us.

0:28:290:28:31

Yeah, I did think it would drag on, but it hasn't,

0:28:310:28:33

so we've had a resounding success with this job

0:28:330:28:36

moreover than what we would if they lived in the borough.

0:28:360:28:40

So, that's good.

0:28:400:28:41

Well pleased.

0:28:410:28:42

Mark may never clean up every back yard in Wigan,

0:28:470:28:50

but at least it's a small step in the right direction.

0:28:500:28:53

Wigan Borough is home to over 300,000 residents,

0:29:070:29:11

but as a large proportion of the council's funding

0:29:110:29:14

comes from council tax,

0:29:140:29:15

views on what Wiganers get for their money varies a lot.

0:29:150:29:19

What it does... Nothing!

0:29:190:29:21

It's supposed to look after the community,

0:29:230:29:26

but I don't think it is.

0:29:260:29:28

In my case, no,

0:29:280:29:30

Wigan Council isn't good value for money

0:29:300:29:32

because they've made so many cutbacks to the care services

0:29:320:29:35

and to other services that relate to disabled people.

0:29:350:29:39

They're very on the ball, the council.

0:29:390:29:41

They fine a lot of people for throwing cigarettes on the floor -

0:29:410:29:44

it's very controversial.

0:29:440:29:46

Not being smokers, we quite agree with it!

0:29:460:29:49

The Wigan councillors say they won't fund any money

0:29:490:29:53

for any homeless accommodation.

0:29:530:29:56

Like, they had Railway Road, but won't take no more people in.

0:29:560:30:00

There are certain roads that are particularly poor

0:30:000:30:02

with all the potholes, et cetera.

0:30:020:30:04

It would be wise to try and deal with certain complaints about those,

0:30:040:30:09

instead of paying out on claims -

0:30:090:30:11

which, I can only assume, that's what the council is doing.

0:30:110:30:13

Councils are being hit by huge cuts.

0:30:230:30:27

Workers are stretched and services are under pressure.

0:30:270:30:30

Recent austerity measures

0:30:310:30:33

mean every local authority in the UK

0:30:330:30:35

has been hit with a 40% cut in funding

0:30:350:30:37

from central government.

0:30:370:30:39

Having been forced to make savings of ?10 billion

0:30:400:30:43

in the three years from 2011-12,

0:30:430:30:47

local authorities now have to find the same savings again

0:30:470:30:51

in the next two years.

0:30:510:30:52

We haven't got a limitless pot of money,

0:30:520:30:54

but what we need to do is try to find smarter solutions

0:30:540:30:58

to their everyday problems by working with them.

0:30:580:31:00

One solution Wigan Council have come up with is The Deal,

0:31:020:31:05

led by Chief Executive Donna Hall.

0:31:050:31:08

The Deal is a campaign aimed at forging better relationships

0:31:100:31:13

between the council, local residents and businesses

0:31:130:31:16

who work together to improve and find cost-effective solutions

0:31:160:31:21

and today council workers are doing their bit by volunteering in Orrell.

0:31:250:31:29

They're helping residents pick up rubbish,

0:31:290:31:32

encouraging them to recycle...

0:31:320:31:34

Just what every kid needs -

0:31:340:31:36

the Wigan Council recycling goody bag.

0:31:360:31:38

..and working with local charities and businesses

0:31:390:31:42

to see how they can play a role in cutting costs

0:31:420:31:45

and making a better borough.

0:31:450:31:46

At Orrell Methodist Church,

0:31:490:31:54

the best ways of saving money within the borough.

0:31:540:31:57

The purpose of the session today

0:31:570:31:59

is to get as many community organisations and individuals

0:31:590:32:02

together to talk about improving Orrell,

0:32:020:32:04

improving their local area,

0:32:040:32:06

how they can get involved in The Deal -

0:32:060:32:08

and that's about trying to cope with the financial challenges we have

0:32:080:32:12

by working differently with our local residents.

0:32:120:32:14

She may be one of the most powerful people in the borough,

0:32:190:32:25

she knows she could be in the firing line.

0:32:250:32:28

I'm sure we'll be getting some quite difficult, tough questions,

0:32:280:32:31

but we're happy to deal with that, because that's part of our job.

0:32:310:32:35

Brilliant to see...

0:32:350:32:36

Donna takes the floor and gets straight to the point.

0:32:360:32:39

Just a little bit from me about the Wigan Deal.

0:32:390:32:42

We've already taken 100 million out of Wigan Council's budget.

0:32:420:32:46

What we need to do is radically redesign what we do as a council,

0:32:460:32:51

and the only way we can do that,

0:32:510:32:52

the only way we can get through austerity,

0:32:520:32:55

is by working differently with you, with residents.

0:32:550:32:58

There's one particular cost-saving opportunity Donna wants to discuss.

0:32:590:33:03

Customer communication.

0:33:030:33:04

Every time you come into Wigan's contact centre,

0:33:050:33:12

So what we're trying to do is get people, more people, to go online,

0:33:120:33:16

to reduce the cost of customer contact.

0:33:160:33:17

If you see a pothole,

0:33:170:33:26

and e-mail it in to our contact centre.

0:33:260:33:28

That saves us an absolute fortune,

0:33:280:33:30

and it improves the speed of your response.

0:33:300:33:32

So it's things like that that we need to do differently.

0:33:320:33:34

Having said her piece, it's the residents' turn to respond.

0:33:370:33:40

And they're not holding back.

0:33:420:33:44

I appreciate the need to put more stuff online

0:33:440:33:46

and for the whole digital communications there now is,

0:33:460:33:50

but there's a danger that it's becoming incredibly impersonal.

0:33:500:33:53

It doesn't feel like you're contacting anybody,

0:33:530:33:56

and it would be nice if we could restore,

0:33:560:33:58

which is what this kind of event is doing,

0:33:580:34:00

that actual sense of relationship, that, actually,

0:34:000:34:02

when you go on to the council website,

0:34:020:34:04

you don't know the name of anybody -

0:34:040:34:06

and this is about being in relation

0:34:060:34:09

between residents and council officers and officials and so on.

0:34:090:34:12

We really do think that we are the forgotten people -

0:34:120:34:15

but we really do need more of these

0:34:150:34:18

so that residents' concerns can get back to the council

0:34:180:34:22

and the appropriate people,

0:34:220:34:24

not just by e-mail, or anything like that.

0:34:240:34:26

The Deal is all about a relationship

0:34:260:34:28

between the public sector and residents,

0:34:280:34:30

so if we don't forge that relationship

0:34:300:34:32

at the point of contact, it's pointless.

0:34:320:34:35

Just wonder if I could ask Tina Docherty,

0:34:350:34:38

who runs our customer services team.

0:34:380:34:41

Actually, at the moment, we're looking at what we call a webchat,

0:34:410:34:45

which is supporting customers online,

0:34:450:34:47

so you can actually chat to a live person,

0:34:470:34:49

and I'm looking at putting sort of pictures of the advisers on screen,

0:34:490:34:53

so I think that makes it less impersonal.

0:34:530:34:57

But the council's modern initiatives leave some residents unmoved.

0:34:580:35:03

It's all right, this online thing.

0:35:030:35:04

Not everybody likes it.

0:35:040:35:06

And not everybody can use it.

0:35:060:35:08

And with some people, that's at our age, and I'm one,

0:35:080:35:11

that has no intentions of going on the line. Yes, I know...

0:35:110:35:13

I didn't do it in my working life and I'm not doing it now. OK.

0:35:130:35:16

I would like to be able to get hold of someone. You can still ring...

0:35:160:35:19

I can't, if they've not got a number.

0:35:190:35:20

Right, OK, well, we'll give you all the numbers at the end if that's OK.

0:35:200:35:24

OK. We take on board your comment.

0:35:240:35:27

We're not going to get everybody online. It's not realistic.

0:35:270:35:30

It's a tough crowd,

0:35:310:35:33

and after addressing the more conventional concerns

0:35:330:35:35

of health care...

0:35:350:35:36

We were promised a state-of-the-art health centre.

0:35:360:35:39

It never happened.

0:35:390:35:40

..and roads...

0:35:400:35:41

It is gridlocked right to the motorway.

0:35:410:35:45

..Donna draws the session to a close.

0:35:450:35:48

You're clearly on our radar now.

0:35:480:35:50

We will come back here in another 12 months' time to update you

0:35:500:35:53

on everything that we've done - and, in the meantime,

0:35:530:35:55

we can keep you posted by e-mail... or, if you like, by post.

0:35:550:35:59

So, thank you.

0:35:590:36:00

As the residents prepare to leave,

0:36:040:36:06

Donna knows her job is far from over.

0:36:060:36:09

That's what I came into public service to do,

0:36:090:36:11

is to try to help people try to resolve situations and problems.

0:36:110:36:15

I'm passionate about it, just as they are.

0:36:150:36:18

We just need to go away and do stuff about it now.

0:36:180:36:20

Action!

0:36:200:36:21

Previously, in an attempt to boost the coffers

0:36:300:36:33

of the town and the council,

0:36:330:36:35

Steve has been trying to find a perfect location

0:36:350:36:38

for a spooky business...

0:36:380:36:40

Really cool space. It is a cool space, isn't it?

0:36:400:36:43

..and he's under pressure to make Wigan the ideal home

0:36:430:36:46

for the ghostly attraction House Of The Dead.

0:36:460:36:49

We're getting to a point now where we're literally running out of time.

0:36:490:36:52

Since the last meeting with the entrepreneurs,

0:36:580:37:00

Steve's been working hard to try and seal the deal

0:37:000:37:02

with the horror-themed company.

0:37:020:37:05

I was shocked when I got the enquiry through.

0:37:050:37:08

Zombies in Wigan.

0:37:080:37:10

We soon realised, you know, it's creating 70 jobs,

0:37:100:37:14

it's a fantastic visitor attraction,

0:37:140:37:17

it's happened in other areas,

0:37:170:37:20

so it's certainly something we want to be part of.

0:37:200:37:23

The old museum building stands out as their favourite location.

0:37:230:37:28

But Steve has bad news to pass on to business partner Sally.

0:37:280:37:31

This phone call could send the deal for Wigan to an early grave.

0:37:330:37:37

'Hello, Sally speaking.'

0:37:400:37:41

Hello, Sally, it's Steve from Wigan Council.

0:37:410:37:44

'Hello, Steve, how are you?' I'm good, thank you.

0:37:440:37:46

Yourself?

0:37:460:37:48

I just thought I'd give you a quick call

0:37:480:37:50

following the visits the other day.

0:37:500:37:52

'OK, yeah, brilliant.'

0:37:520:37:53

We think we would probably start with some of the not so good,

0:37:530:37:57

erm, the old museum building. 'Yeah.'

0:37:570:38:01

Getting you into Wigan quickly and doing what you need to do,

0:38:010:38:05

it just doesn't fit with your timescales at the moment.

0:38:050:38:08

'OK.'

0:38:080:38:10

The old museum is part of the Wigan Pier regeneration.

0:38:100:38:14

This means it's open to a formal process

0:38:140:38:16

where all interested businesses

0:38:160:38:18

submit and pitch their proposals to the council.

0:38:180:38:22

This scuppers Sally and Richard's plan to move in quick.

0:38:220:38:25

I... '..we're in a difficult scenario...'

0:38:250:38:28

It's got to work, it's got to work for you as a business, hasn't it?

0:38:280:38:32

'OK.' We'll speak soon.

0:38:320:38:35

'OK, nice talking to you.' You, too.

0:38:350:38:36

Take care, Sally. 'Thank you.' Cheers, cheers. Bye-bye.

0:38:360:38:40

Despite the setback, Steve is determined to land this deal.

0:38:430:38:46

To better understand their needs, he's taken the brave step

0:38:490:38:52

of visiting the temporary spooky set-up in Manchester.

0:38:520:38:56

We've seen plans.

0:38:570:38:58

We've seen business plans,

0:38:580:38:59

but I think it's really good to see something on the ground,

0:38:590:39:02

just how it works, and it just gives us a flavour

0:39:020:39:05

of what kind of things they're doing.

0:39:050:39:07

Hello! Hi! Steve. How are you doing?

0:39:240:39:26

Mm, good. Good to see you. Hiya, Steve. How are you?

0:39:260:39:28

Good to see you. Welcome. How's things?

0:39:280:39:30

You OK? Really good, yeah, yeah.

0:39:300:39:32

I'm interested. I want to have a little nosy.

0:39:320:39:35

Can I have a look around? Yeah, that'll be fab.

0:39:350:39:37

This way. It's dark.

0:39:370:39:39

You'll have to hold my hand! THEY LAUGH

0:39:390:39:42

This is the waiting area for the trap rooms.

0:39:440:39:48

OK. All the willing victims come in here first. Right, OK.

0:39:480:39:51

Then we take them to the various rooms around the place.

0:39:510:39:55

Then this also doubles up as a hospital waiting area

0:39:550:39:58

for the haunted house. Right.

0:39:580:40:00

Well... Let's go and have a look at the quarantine.

0:40:000:40:02

I'll let you go first! Yeah, yeah!

0:40:020:40:05

Thank you.

0:40:050:40:07

I just keep expecting something to jump out at me.

0:40:070:40:09

In this horror experience,

0:40:120:40:13

visitors must escape rooms by completing puzzles.

0:40:130:40:18

See what's in there, find the keys, then we have, like...

0:40:180:40:21

..these sorts of things that have got numbers on.

0:40:220:40:25

Panic stations!

0:40:250:40:26

The plan is to scale things up in their new home,

0:40:280:40:31

making a bigger and better experience.

0:40:310:40:33

This is absolutely brilliant.

0:40:360:40:38

It's been - it's great to see it, and I think it helps, as well,

0:40:380:40:43

to look at the kind of buildings, the buildings we've looked at,

0:40:430:40:47

the ones that maybe weren't suitable

0:40:470:40:49

but it gives a flavour now of what is suitable. Yeah.

0:40:490:40:53

We will get you to Wigan.

0:40:530:40:55

I'm not too scared. Yet! Yet!

0:40:550:40:57

You aren't out yet, Steve! That's it, yes! Brilliant.

0:40:570:41:00

To be continued. Yes, to be continued!

0:41:000:41:02

Nothing going to jump out here.

0:41:030:41:05

Fantastic. Yeah, thank you very much for your time.

0:41:070:41:09

Thanks, Steve. Thank you.

0:41:090:41:11

Steve survived the ordeal...

0:41:110:41:13

..and he's more confident than ever

0:41:150:41:17

that he'll bring Sally and Richard's business to Wigan.

0:41:170:41:20

I think what we have done is, we've worked with them,

0:41:200:41:23

we've sold what Wigan has to offer

0:41:230:41:25

and hopefully we will make House Of The Dead,

0:41:250:41:29

their home in the Wigan borough.

0:41:290:41:32

They've been brilliant.

0:41:320:41:33

Really supportive.

0:41:330:41:34

They've really gone out of their way to try and help us come to Wigan.

0:41:340:41:39

And ultimately it's the people who are representing Wigan Council

0:41:390:41:47

Sally and Richard are still on board with Wigan

0:41:490:41:51

and are working closely with Steve to find their ideal home.

0:41:510:41:55

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

0:42:090:42:11

They've secured a back yard against further fly tipping...

0:42:130:42:16

Well pleased.

0:42:160:42:18

..found much-needed foster carers...

0:42:180:42:20

They've been brilliant.

0:42:200:42:21

..listened to local residents...

0:42:230:42:25

You're clearly on our radar now.

0:42:250:42:27

..and helped a scary business search for a suitably spooky base...

0:42:270:42:31

This place at night does half of our job...

0:42:310:42:34

Does it for you. ..for us.

0:42:340:42:37

..showing that they are on hand to help when we Call The Council.

0:42:370:42:42

I live in Wigan. I'm passionate about Wigan.

0:42:420:42:49

That's why I love doing what I do.

0:42:490:42:51

Officers working for Wigan council battle to bring new business into the borough, provide safe foster homes for young people and fight the elements on a PR offensive.


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