17/12/2012 Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire


17/12/2012

Toby Foster presents three stories from Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Steph McGovern investigates what was behind the collapse of Comet, the retailer which started life in Hull.


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Transcript


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We reveal what went wrong for Comet. We find out why we could all be

:00:19.:00:24.

left out picking up the bill. In just destroyed a family business.

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It seems far too easy for employers to say, you now in administration.

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Also, Hyde Council tour rustling up extra bands by increasing the price

:00:40.:00:48.

of everything from rat catching to cremation. It is a tax on the dead.

:00:48.:00:58.
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The Revenue isn't being reinvested in the crematorium service.

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After a soaking summer, Paul investigates it we all have to get

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Tomorrow will see the Comet name disappear from our high street as

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the final stores close. The collapse of the retailer, which

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started in Hull, has left thousands of workers redundant and will leave

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the taxpayer with a multi-million- pound bill. We didn't all go so

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It is one of the biggest retail casualties on the high streets.

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is not just our family who are suffering, it is 6500 people who

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are suffering. Tomorrow will see the final closing-down sales as the

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stores are embodied of stock. don't understand how we could have

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been making profits, but then told we had to close. What went wrong?

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Why did Comet feel leading a massive bill for the taxpayers? I

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have come to a halt to the old Business Centre for Comet. I wanted

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to know what happens to that great Yorkshire brands that started here

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in Hull almost 80 years ago. Comet began life to cash in on a boom in

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wireless radio ownership set up by a man called George Hollingberry.

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Robb, why are we here in the middle this industrial area? In the 1930s,

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a couple but chaps got together and started to charge batteries for

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people. Everybody wanted a radio in the 1930s, but the National Grid

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wasn't very good. The equip the diversified, didn't they? They were

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great. Any opportunity that came along, be made the most of it.

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Hollingberry family are still entrepreneurs. Richard runs an

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organic farm. His grandfather set up Comet and his father ran its

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throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. My father's idea was

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discounting and out of town shops. He took on a site out of town,

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bought Cloughton stacked high., was one of the first retailers to

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persuade shoppers to leave the High Street for the out-of-town stores.

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It was these discount warehouses that a Lord Alan Sugar described as

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changing the face of retail. Decades of innovation followed a

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Comet became a multi-million-pound business as part of the Kingfisher

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retail group. Then the recession hit. Looking at these adverts from

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the 90s, it was a tough time for Comet, wasn't it? It was. It was a

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tough time for all retailers to the recession. What Comet field to do

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was learn from that experience. Towards the end of the 90s, many of

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their competitors had internet sites and Comet were late to that

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game. My dear thing people stop going into the shops? Why would you

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go into Comet if he could get a cheaper online? Comet seemed to

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have lost direction. And 2011 did Jane made losses of nearly Mac --

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up nearly �9 million and its owner wanted rid of the brand. Last year,

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and its warranty business were sold. They were sold for just �1 each.

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They were bought by a private investment company called OpCapita.

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This deal went through in February. It was a deal that was closely

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watched in this city and the monks but financial journalists. OpCapita

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had a history. It is not the first time that we have seen OpCapita do

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this with the British brand. controversy was MFI a went into

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administration and it was OpCapita there were involved in this. Sure

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enough, the structure of Comet was almost identical to MFI. OpCapita

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picked the money for, -- the money for Comet into a parent company,

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Hailey Acquisitions. There was �50 million given by the previous

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owners, a �40 million loan and the money from the investors was 35

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million. OpCapita did not put the money directly into Comet. It put

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it into Comet into a parent company and loan that money to Comet.

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Healey acquisitions will receive almost �50 million, but this is

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significantly less than what it is owed, some �145 million. A bigger

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financial mess than any of the workers expected. It is like a

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bereavement, really. I am probably angry more than anything. My family

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can see that I'm upset and getting snappy. When OpCapita took over, it

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pledged to run Comet as a going concern for 18 months. It said they

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had a definite turnaround plan. were told you would be focusing on

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profit alone. Entry was said manager at a store in Halifax and

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he thought things were looking up. All stores were hit in this targets,

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this cash margin target and we were been told we were breaking even. I

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receive my last paycheck today, and that received -- that had a bonus

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attached to it because of my face seals. Greenfield it is far too

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easy for companies to be put into administration. All those people

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are now seeking alternative employment and they shouldn't have

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too. It seems far too easy for employers to say, right, now we are

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in administration. So why did, it - - so why did Comet end up in

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administration? It was performing on target. Comet was in a difficult

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part of the market and like-for- like sales were down. What OpCapita

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say went wrong is that when rumours emerged that Comet could be sold by

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them, the trade suppliers had tightened their terms. It meant

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that Comet could not call out and buy stock at a viable economic

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price. This meant that it wasn't were put in more money into Comet.

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Nobody from OpCapita it or Healey acquisitions wanted to do an

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interview. It in -- the did give us a statement, which include an

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apology to Comet workers. It goes on to highlight their efforts to

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revive the loss-making business including appointing a new highly

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experienced management team. Explains how, it -- it explains how

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Comet was unable to obtain credit on competitive terms. To trade at

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Christmas would have needed a very substantial further injection of

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capital and with no realistic prospect of obtaining it, the board

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had no option but to appoint administrators. The collapse of

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Comet will see the government picking up the bill for redundancy

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and could cost around �24 million. A solicitor representing the

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workers also believes they could be due additional compensation. We are

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advising them on their collective consultation rights. When more than

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20 redundancies are being made, they have the right to be consulted

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on. As far as we can tell, they have just been making the

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redundancies with no meaningful consultation. Honour contracts

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state you're meant to have a consultation period, 90 days notice.

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We haven't been given any of it. The administrators told us that

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sometimes decisions about redundancy have to be made quickly

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and, regrettably, it is not always possible to give advance notice to

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workers. If the tribunal finds in favour of the staff, it is likely

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this will again be compensation that comes from the public purse.

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As well as their money, many workers want the Government to

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investigate the collapse of the company. They want to know why the

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law allows investors to walk away while the taxpayer is left of that

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Still to come, a very wet ball huts and finds out why we might all have

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to get used to as some are soaking. If things can get out of hand very

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quickly. Making the pennies go further is a

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challenge for all bus and it is no different for your local council.

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They have had millions slashed of their budget. They are trying to

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rustle up further cash which means higher charges for everything and

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it means that what you pay depends on where you live. Times are tough

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in the town halls across the North, as our local councils feel the

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financial squeeze. As cuts start to bite, they have to make sure that

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they are making money where ever they can.

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You probably already think that you are paying enough for you council

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services. I will find out who are charging the most and the least.

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This is where I pulled it through. I pulled it round here and it ended

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up on the steps. A few weeks ago, up all have had some unwelcome

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visitors - rats. They are coming down the past. Their running all

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over, under the leaves and everything. You're frightened to

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open the door. I'm frightened of children coming to the house.

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lack -- rats were looking for a new home. There was more unwelcome news

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when all have phoned the council to get help. They said there was a �20

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charge. I said I do not think we should be paying for that. North

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Tyneside council introduced the charge in April as part of its

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budget and hap offered to give all of advice on a rat problem. I think

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this is something different. This is dirty. It is not nice. Maybe all

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of should move. Northumberland, Hull, Doncaster and Staunton will

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all sort out your rat problem for free. If it is three for them off

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why shouldn't it be free for everyone? All but that -- becomes

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the first person to receive the this Certificate from Inside Out. A

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month that the ten councils in England facing the biggest cuts, he

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will find Burnley, Barrow and Preston. Local authorities say they

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have no choice but to hike up the charges. It seems no council

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service is off-limits. Even in times of austerity, you would think

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that at least one council service would be sacred. But it seems that

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the fees charged for burials and cremations might be about to rocket.

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One of the worst places could be Merseyside. Here, at the dead need

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to be dead rich. The problem is that it should be a service to the

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bereaved from the council. It is not a commercial business. This

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Merseyside undertaker is severely unimpressed with plans to hike up

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commission fees from a �600 to �750. I believe in some ways that it is a

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tax on the dead. The Revenue is not being reinvested in the cemeteries

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and crematoriums, it is going into the council's black hole. What

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should they do instead? I think they can make cuts elsewhere. I do

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not think that to Max knifes the revenue from one particular service

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is the right way to go. Do not just take money because you can.

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fact is that we have to try and make savings. We have to make

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increases in charges and that is one of the many charges that has

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been increased. What about other areas? In Cumbria, they are

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proposing up to 15 % rise in fees. The cheapest is a Cheshire West and

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Chester, St Helens and Durham. These are financially the best

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places to die. I am afraid you are getting an Inside Out hard times

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award. In these hard times, if you thought you could save a few

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pennies by growing your own, I am afraid not. And at the moment, for

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a plot this size, we would pay �24 down as rent and that is going to

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be going up to �65, about a 170 % increase. I appreciate the have to

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do some saving, but that is a phenomenal rise. Sheffield council

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disputes this calculation and says that Government cuts and protecting

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other services has forced it to raise these. It is an easy way for

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the council to raise money. Sunderland is a good place to live

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as it has one of the cheapest allotments in the north for just

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around �10. But in at Bury and regions size plot will set you back

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well over �100. Phil reluctantly accepts the insight it hard times

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ought. So we are being hit in the pocket and some people think

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councils should be looking hard at their peril before they put up

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their charges. We're talking about middle managers being paid up to

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�60,000 a year or more and they need to cut back on that sort of

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bureaucracy. No one wants to see people made redundant for the sake

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of it but at the same town councils are not employment exchanges. They

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have to cut their cloth to suit their needs. I another way councils

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are looking to raise cash is through sponsorship. Leeds City

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Council of this sponsorship on their payslips. For �3,000 plus VAT

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you can average-sized your wares on roundabouts. You can sponsor a

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flowerbed in Lancaster's. In Newcastle, you can get your company

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name on a litter bin. Our councils are us stuck for cash but they

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could be sitting on assets like this temple to convenience. It is a

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public toilet in the -- public toilet that is up for sale. Six

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potential buyers have been sniffing around, including one who would

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like to turn it into a bar. A whole array of goods are up for sale by

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our councils. Newcastle's state carriage. �80,000. �12,000 worth of

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old books sold by Manchester City Council on eat it. Up for sale,

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Eden council's Mansion House, yours for one. Will -- �1.1 billion. This

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it wedding venue is for sale by Wakefield Council. There is no

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doubt that there are tough times and choices ahead for local

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authorities. The difference in charges is stark. Why? And is it

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fair? It is not unfair. Local authorities have their own

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priorities and their own way of making their own budget. They also

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have their own contexts in which to make those decisions. Each has to

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cut its cloth accordingly. If people feel it is unfair in there

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are various ways they can participate and have their say,

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like the ballot-box Orok citizens' panels. Balancing books as

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certainly going to be tough for Northern councils. Some will say

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that they must make money for the can. As we cannot use will be get

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air services from, it is no wonder that we looked enviously at those

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in neighbouring areas who may be peeing a whole lot less. -- peeing

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at less. You do not need me to tell you that

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there is something strange going on with the weather. This year we had

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a drought and then one of the wettest summers on record. Paul

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Hodgson has discovered that there is increasing evidence that

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miserable summers could become the norm.

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It has been another of record- breaking year. The wettest summer

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for a century and a distressing time for many. Now climate

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scientists in Yorkshire are investigating whether something

:19:35.:19:39.

significant is underway and are focusing their attention on what is

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happening high above us. The jet stream is of a been of a really

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strong winds high up and the atmosphere and has formed because

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of the temperature contrast between the cold towards the Arctic and the

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warmth towards the equator. The Jetstream decides what kind of

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weather we have in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. It is to the north

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was weather will be warm and settles but if it is to the south

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of us it will be cold and wet. That is what happened this summer,

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bringing us more extreme weather. All our houses were flooded. A lot

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of people at the time were left with their businesses and their

:20:17.:20:21.

homes and liveable. It didn't matter very where he would be

:20:21.:20:25.

affected. For the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire is no stranger to

:20:25.:20:30.

flooding. This summer at locals were left reeling as one month's

:20:30.:20:36.

worth of rain fell in at day. and mud meant stock at this

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furniture store was ruined. June was the wettest on record. The

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rainfall was intense and fell in a short space of time. You can see,

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looking at the ballet, it is very steep with sides sloping up.

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Rainfall gathers and flows quickly down to the River Calder in the

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bottom. You can visualise how things would get out of hand

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quickly. Even living high on the hillside offered no protection. The

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use are the steps that have flowed down and it flowed for an hour and

:21:14.:21:21.

a half or so. This is how high the what Therese. We all saw the

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pictures on television. What was it like? It was scary. You realise you

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cannot stop it. You start thinking other stuff that is going to get

:21:31.:21:36.

damaged. There is nothing you can do. We just had to wait for it to

:21:36.:21:43.

end. It was the eerie and soul- destroying and for the first couple

:21:43.:21:46.

of days you were living on adrenalin because there are lots of

:21:46.:21:56.
:21:56.:21:58.

stuff happening but then it hits you. And down the valley, is this

:21:58.:22:03.

man Stewart also felt the full force of nature. Can you describe

:22:03.:22:09.

to us what the weather was like? had about 48 hours of rain and then

:22:09.:22:13.

at about 11 o'clock there was a cloudburst in the airier and the

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river got up to about a foot below the height of the wall, which is

:22:17.:22:22.

normal, but once the cloudburst started in Rosewell of the wall

:22:22.:22:27.

here for the first time in 30 years. The with the enclosed a rogue banks

:22:27.:22:31.

unable to cope, water poured into the furniture factory costing

:22:31.:22:37.

millions of pounds worth of damage. Describe what you saw? Disaster. We

:22:37.:22:45.

had about 12 inches of water in this area. All the sewing machines

:22:45.:22:50.

were damaged. The whole heart of the couple's two factory is a

:22:50.:22:53.

sewing room and we cannot do anything without sewing machines.

:22:53.:22:58.

That was a disaster. The company is now back on its feet and taking

:22:58.:23:05.

steps to build a high wall to stop the river flooding again. And it is

:23:05.:23:10.

not only the Calder Valley that suffered. The summer floods in Hull

:23:10.:23:16.

and Sheffield in 2007 caused chaos and widespread damage. For those

:23:16.:23:20.

who gather Sheffield's daily whether it Statistics, these events

:23:20.:23:24.

appear to show something significant is happening. It is one

:23:24.:23:30.

of the longest data sets in the whole country. 130 years but.

:23:30.:23:35.

seems some things do not change in Sheffield. Continuous rain! You

:23:35.:23:40.

have something interesting there. This letter contains our coldest

:23:40.:23:49.

ever recorded temperature. The 8th February in 19 -- 1885, it was 5.8

:23:49.:23:58.

degrees Fahrenheit, that is minus 14.6 degrees Celsius. Sir you look

:23:58.:24:03.

through their records and it is obvious we have had extremes

:24:03.:24:07.

throughout the period. Have you noticed anything of interest in the

:24:07.:24:12.

last few years. Absolutely, specifically with rainfall. We have

:24:12.:24:15.

noticed that we are getting more of those cloudburst events where you

:24:15.:24:22.

are recording up to 70 ml of rainfall in a single day. If you

:24:22.:24:26.

look back over the record that we have here as a whole, we perhaps

:24:26.:24:31.

got to were three of those events prior to 1970, and then in the last

:24:31.:24:36.

ten years we have had my be four or five of these events. There does

:24:36.:24:41.

seem to be a change. Flash floods are nothing new. But are they

:24:41.:24:45.

happening because of the weather 2000 miles away in green and?

:24:45.:24:50.

Recent summers have been warmer, drier and sunnier. We would

:24:50.:24:53.

normally expect parts of the massive price cut is all in summer,

:24:53.:24:57.

but this year there has been a record melt and for those who have

:24:57.:25:02.

regular visitors to green land, like this polar explorer, the

:25:02.:25:07.

change has been obvious. So that put loss of ice, or what does that

:25:07.:25:13.

mean on the ground here? I have been working on the west coast on

:25:13.:25:17.

this science project. When I went in a few years ago with Mike bits

:25:17.:25:22.

on, I got out their helicopter to walk three kilometres out onto the

:25:22.:25:26.

ice cap and I got there and there was so much water that I had to get

:25:26.:25:30.

back in their helicopter, flew back and bought fishing waders so that I

:25:30.:25:35.

could weed out to have a metre of water to Messiaen's site.

:25:35.:25:42.

Everywhere I go there is more water, more rock and a lot less ice.

:25:42.:25:45.

climate scientists now believe that what is happening thousands of

:25:45.:25:50.

miles away is having an impact on a weather. A loss of sea ice and more

:25:50.:25:55.

heat over the Arctic appears to have weakened the speed and pattern

:25:55.:26:00.

of the Jetstream, making it meander. It has meant more at low pressure

:26:00.:26:05.

over Britain and more unsettled summer weather. I know only too

:26:05.:26:09.

well the long-range forecasting is the most difficult part of my job.

:26:09.:26:14.

But I am about to meet someone who thinks he has made a breakthrough.

:26:14.:26:18.

Dr Edward Hanna is a jet stream expert and his team has studied its

:26:18.:26:22.

movement your last six years, a period that has coincided with our

:26:22.:26:27.

summer washouts. We have noticed a striking change in the last six

:26:27.:26:32.

years. You can see that in the last six years, but circulation has been

:26:32.:26:38.

much more wavy and meandering, compared with the average for the

:26:38.:26:42.

longer period of the last 30 years, of which is in the middle there.

:26:42.:26:46.

Which should mean weather patterns are the become entrenched and last

:26:46.:26:52.

for longer. So if you have a theory is correct and that scientists are

:26:52.:26:55.

correct, what are the implications for a summer's across Yorkshire and

:26:55.:27:01.

Lincolnshire? We might get more of these colder, wetter summers, but

:27:01.:27:06.

there is going to be more variation in weather conditions the

:27:06.:27:10.

experience. I think we're going to have to get used to a lot of cold,

:27:10.:27:17.

wet weather. More research at Sheffield is underway, but their

:27:17.:27:20.

work suggests that although there will be the occasional scorching

:27:20.:27:25.

summer, we should get ready for more of the same. And with what a

:27:25.:27:30.

lot crops and higher food prices, we are all likely to feel the pinch.

:27:30.:27:35.

Back in the Calder Valley, sandbags have become a way of life. But what

:27:35.:27:43.

about the future? Historians know that in the Calder Valley, we have

:27:43.:27:48.

had these sort of floods for the last two when the cheers. This one

:27:48.:27:51.

has been extreme and possibly there has been nothing like it in the

:27:52.:27:56.

last 50 years, but we cannot take the chance. We do not what this to

:27:56.:28:05.

happen again. Are we could have years of this to come. How does

:28:05.:28:10.

that make you feel? It needs to be raced up the agenda so that all the

:28:10.:28:20.
:28:20.:28:23.

agencies that can work together see it as a higher priority. That is

:28:23.:28:29.

all for tonight. Paul Hodgson will be back with a special programme

:28:29.:28:36.

about this year's wild weather on Sunday 30th December. Have a merry

:28:36.:28:44.

Toby Foster presents three stories from Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Steph McGovern investigates what was really behind the collapse of Comet, the electrical retailer which started life in Hull.

And Paul Hudson finds out whether we need to prepare for more extreme weather.


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