03/02/2014 Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire


03/02/2014

Have casual contracts and poor safety systems led to deaths on the railways? The impact of abolishing the spare room subsidy in Grimsby, and Newark's role in the English Civil War.


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Transcript


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Welcome to Inside Out. This week we are in Newark.

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Good evening and welcome to Inside Out. Tonight, working long hours at

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one of the most dangerous jobs, keeping the railways on the move,

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our rail workers plural`macro lives being put at risk? One mother wants

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to know who is to blame for her son's death. I was actually in a

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daze, numb. Also tonight, we look at the reality

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of living without the spare room subsidy. It is costing the Council

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the best part of ?1 million that we could spend on other things.

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And Horrible Histories author Terry Deary is here at Newark, where

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royalists fought off three sieges during the English civil war.

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Railway workers are out on the tracks at all hours of day and night

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and in all weathers. Most of them have no job security, they are on

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casual contracts. The death of a rail worker from Doncaster has

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highlighted corner cutting and poor safety standards. Paul Murphy

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investigates how lives are being put on the line.

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Not once did Scott ever give to me that his job was a dangerous job. I

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thought they were protected. It's December 2012, early in the

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afternoon, on a railway line near to Saxilby in Lincolnshire, and a gang

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of workers are repairing the track. One of the workers steps back just

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as a train is passing. He doesn't survive. A report into his death

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reveals a string of broken and ignored safety procedures. Network

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Rail called the death of Scott Dobson a watershed moment and

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promised new safety rules. But Scott wasn't a Network Rail employee. Like

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the majority of workers maintaining and repairing our rail network, he

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was employed by an agency. Scott was always the gang leader,

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the reliable one that the office used to ring him.

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Scott Dobson was in charge of site safety for a work gang repairing a

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fault in the track that day. Scott and his gang were working on the

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down line which was closed to trains. But the other side of the

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track was still in use. For some reason, somebody somewhere along the

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line has asked them to do the voiding.

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They were filling in gaps under the track, a job which meant working in

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the six`foot, the gap between the two rail lines. It's a job for which

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both rail lines should have been closed. Scott would not then have

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been able to step back into the path of an oncoming train.

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As I walked into the kitchen, Thomas came running in, saying, you really

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need to speak to Haysey, he's on the other end of the phone in tears. He

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says, I think Scott's been in an accident, I think he's been killed.

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At that, I was actually...in a daze. Numb.

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A report into Scott's death lists many safety failings.

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The report shows that he shouldn't have been working in that

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safety`critical role that day. He'd been involved in two other

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safety breaches in the preceding two months, and according to Network

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Rail rules, he should have been moved to a less senior role. On the

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day, no`one had asked for that second line to be closed, and no`one

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challenged the lack of any risk assessment or safety briefing to

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perform the job. So the question is, why were they there?

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perform the job. So the question is, knew, all that gang knew, that

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somebody would have been in danger working in the six`foot as there was

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trains still running on the up side of the track.

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Scott had been hired that day by a recruitment company called sky`blue,

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a subsidiary of the engineering giant Carillion. Carillion express

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their condolences but tell us they are unable to comment on specific

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questions or issues related to Scott's death until after an inquest

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and further inquiry. They do, however, say that they go to great

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lengths to ensure their workforce know they can raise safety concerns.

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They say their Don't Walk By programme encourages staff to raise

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safety issues, and though they recognise some fear they'll be

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penalised if they speak up, the company makes every effort to

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highlight this is not the case. Since the incident, they say they've

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gone beyond industry standards to put in place new safety procedures

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and have developed a new barrier to be used in co`ordination with a

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physical look`out when people are working on a rail line which is

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closed but adjacent to a line on which trains continue to run.

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Saxilby is a sad reminder of how dangerous the railway is. It's an

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accident that could have been avoided, and the root cause is

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Network Rail's usage, high usage of contractors and agency workers.

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We've talked to track workers who've done casual shifts for renewals

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companies across the north of England. They tell us bad safety

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practices are widespread. I've turned up on site, driven two

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hours to get to a work site. I don't hold the competencies that they're

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asking me for to run that site safely. I've turned round, phoned my

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agency up, and said, look, I can't do this, what do you want me to do?

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Break the rules? Is it commonly accepted that if there's a safety

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problem, you keep quiet about it? Some people do, because they are

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that scared of losing work. Because you speak up, because you speak out,

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that agency can't put you out. And if you're part of a gang, the whole

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gang loses work. I lost work with one client or one agency for nearly

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a year, because I wouldn't do work, because it wasn't safe, because the

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paperwork wasn't correct. 81,000 people are registered to work

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on the railway, only a quarter of them Network Rail staff. Scott

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Dobson's death has forced the company to re`think the way they

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manage this workforce. We will no longer expect safety`critical

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workers to be employed by agency contractors. They will only be

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employed in future by Network Rail or our principal contractors. We

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need to make sure this is the last fatality that ever happens on the

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railway, and we will make any changes necessary to ensure that's

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the case. We've heard this before. Ten years

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ago this month, four railway workers were killed by a runaway wagon at

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Tebay in Cumbria. Crucial to the task now facing

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investigators is the state of the wagon. It had brakes, and they'll

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want to know whether mechanical failure or human error may have

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contributed to today's loss of life...

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Subcontractors had used a chock of wood instead of a brake to stop a

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railway wagon rolling downhill. The two rail contractors involved

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were jailed for manslaughter, but the recommended safety measures have

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yet to be introduced. Those who survived have been campaigning ever

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since. They want track workers to have access to a simple warning

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mechanism that would fit onto a rail and trigger an alarm if anything

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approached. To say I'm disappointed would be an

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understatement. I'm so upset with Network Rail, who say safety is

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first. And here we are maybe going to go into tenth anniversary and yet

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we're still fighting for second protection. Do you think that any

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lessons about safety have been learned from Tebay? It frustrates me

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all the time when I get word back that there's been accidents where we

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could look and think, well, that could have been avoided.

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Tom's campaign may be about to succeed. What we've come to realise

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is that there is an additional level of protection required, and we've

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been trialling that protection with the RMT up in our Carlisle depot,

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and the intent is that we roll that out nationally during the year.

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The main contractor involved at Tebay, like at Saxilby, was

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Carillion, one of the biggest companies tendering for major

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railway engineering works. We've had long conversations with

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Carillion because of the incident that took place at Saxilby. I

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personally have been to Carillion's board to make it clear our

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expectations and to understand what plans they have in place to improve

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safety. We are comfortable Carillion are very committed to improving

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their safety record. Carillion say health and safety is

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central to all their operations and they create a culture of openness

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and continuous improvement in their workforce. When accidents do occur,

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they tell us, they leave no stone unturned to ensure that the causes

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are thoroughly investigated, any learnings are adopted and actions

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taken. Meanwhile, Scott Dobson's family

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must wait for a coroner's inquest to resolve questions about his death.

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There was a duty of care towards Scott and his team that day. Who

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failed? I don't think anyone wants to claim that liability. Whether or

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not it's protecting Scott, whether or not it's protecting themselves, I

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really don't know. The gangs that are working on the rail and the

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managerial staff, they need to be as one. Any fatalities is horrific,

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devastating to families. And it's never, ever the same.

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Did you have got any views on that story, or indeed know about a story

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we should be covering, please get in touch with us through Facebook or

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Twitter. Coming up on Inside Out, we find out

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why this castle was the king's last bastions during the English civil

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war. Now, labelled by the press as the

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bedroom tax, changes to housing benefit have definitely been

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controversial. But what is the reality on the ground for those who

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have to live with or indeed without the spare room subsidy? We have been

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to Grimsby and Cleethorpes to find out.

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Grimsby and Cleethorpes, isn't it great? We've got the fresh sea air

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and the wide open spaces. But away from the sea front, for

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some round here, it's not so sunny. It's all because of the changes in

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housing benefit, what's become known as the bedroom tax. Since the cuts

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came in last April, there's been a massive rise in the number of social

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housing tenants getting into debt. And this bit of northeast

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Lincolnshire is one of the worst`hit spots.

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Nationally, one out of three people affected are in rent arrears. Round

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here, it's two out of three. Officially, it's called the

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abolition of the spare`room subsidy. Anyone in social housing with a

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spare bedroom either has to move somewhere smaller or pay a

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contribution to their rent, round here about ?11 a week, which can be

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hard to find. I have cut back on shopping, on

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washing, so my Water Bill goes down. And it's just... No treats for the

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children. Lisa's one of the few who's managing

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to keep up with her rent payments. What gets me mad is that I've worked

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since I've been 14 years old, and I've not been on benefits before,

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and I'm on benefits now for the first time. And I put in my national

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insurance, you know, and I paid my taxes, and I'm getting penalised for

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it. As more people are affected by this,

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more are turning to the local council for help. We had the odd

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incident when a person gets into trouble and we can work with them

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and the landlords to get it resolved. Now it's not just one or

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two cases, it's hundreds of cases. So how much is this costing the

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council? It's costing the council the best part of ?1 million a year

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that we could be spending on looking after the elderly, children and

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schools, highways. But we're not, we're having to support a policy

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that doesn't work. There is notable person, it is affecting all walks of

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tenants. It's affecting those who we call work poor, those on low incomes

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using housing benefit to make ends meet. It's affecting those who are

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on means`tested benefits. So it's a real broad spectrum of people. One

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of those people is Denise. She's disabled but couldn't find the ?25 a

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week that would let her stay in the specially adapted three`bedroomed

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home where she'd brought up her family.

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How much arrears did you get into? I think it was about ?600. And you've

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never been in debt before, have you? No. So how do you feel? Angry,

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because I started self harming. Because of this? Yeah.

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Denise has now moved to a smaller property and managed to clear her

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debts, but the new home has taken her away from her support network of

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family and neighbours. I didn't want to move, but obviously I had to

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move. I mean, this property is nice, but I'd rather be in my own place.

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So what's stopping other people from moving somewhere smaller? This is

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the East Marsh area of Grimsby, officially in the top ten most

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deprived areas in the country, with some of the cheapest rents. Driving

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around, you see the problem. Streets of three`bedroom social housing,

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what we used to call council houses. The idea of the change in benefits

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was to get people to move out of houses like this and into smaller

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properties. But I can't see any smaller properties to move into.

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Fewer than one in ten tenants have been rehoused, even with the local

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housing association putting them top of the list. Emma managed it, and

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bizarrely, has come out better off. They came and measured it a couple

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of times to see if it was a decent size but they still say it was

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classed as a three`bedroom house. Ever's new two`bedroom house is

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bigger than the old one. I have lost a bedroom but I've gained a dining

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room. So I am quite pleased in a way. It has given us a little bit

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more space downstairs. You'd think that moving people on would help

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resolve the situation. There's no`one queuing up to take on the

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rent on those three`bedroom houses they're leaving behind. Take this

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desirable semi. Three beds, off`road parking, up and coming area, and

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empty. So here we are into what is causing the problem. This problem is

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causing the problem, tell us what is happening. These three`bedroom

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properties with a box room, we are not able to rent. We are astonished

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that in this day and age, we think it is a reasonable expectation to

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have a spare room in this day and age. They have equipment they might

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want to keep in it. But some of these are now standing empty. ??

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WHITE As the biggest social landlord in town, the benefit changes are

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Tony's most pressing problem, and one he can't see resolving any time

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soon. What numbers are we talking about? We have thousands of homes

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and it is a huge proportion of them that we cannot rent. We are set

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aside ?4 million which we would otherwise be using for services or

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building new homes with. The impact on us as a charity are dramatic as

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well. It is interfering with our need `` with our ability to meet

:17:20.:17:27.

housing need. These welfare changes were made to deal with a proper

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problem. We have a problem. Council housing is a precious resource and

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if affordable homes have not been built over the next few years, we

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are in this situation. North`east Lincolnshire Housing Association

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told us that they have 153`bedroom houses standing empty. This is not

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working, is it? There are places in Hull where families are crying out

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for commendation and want to change over. There are websites available

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for people who want to get bigger houses. People swap houses.

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Naturally we wanted to speak to a government minister. We asked three

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different government ministers to talk to us about this problem, but

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they were reluctant to come forward. However the Department for Work and

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Pensions did tell us the changes were a necessary reform, they are

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still paying the majority of most claimants' rent but the taxpayer

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could no longer afford to pay for spare bedrooms. They also tell us

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that they are increasing the money they give to councils to support

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vulnerable tenants. North East Lincolnshire will share an ?500,000

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with North Lincolnshire. So in your opinion, Tony, are there any

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benefits to these changes? Many of the reforms make sense, but with any

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big policy, when you bring his onto the local level, the personal

:18:53.:18:57.

level, you have difficult situations which are created unwittingly. We

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have perverse things going on and families in real distress as a

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consequence. 370 years ago, England was a nation

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at war with itself. The Roundheads and Cavaliers battled it out over

:19:14.:19:16.

this very cavalier Dasher was very Castle. But ordinary people suffered

:19:17.:19:27.

to. No more here `` no more than here in Newark. Terry Deary, who

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knows only too well what happens when history turns horrible.

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The battered remains of Newark Castle are a stark reminder that

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things haven't always been as peaceful as they are today. On the

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face of it there's nothing too remarkable about the market town of

:19:44.:19:47.

Newark. But there was a time when this place was at the very epicentre

:19:48.:19:51.

of one of the most crucial moments in British history. In the middle of

:19:52.:19:58.

the 17th century, Britain was in turmoil. For four years, war had

:19:59.:20:02.

raged across the land ` a desperate struggle between King and

:20:03.:20:05.

Parliament. Now all eyes were on this north Nottinghamshire town.

:20:06.:20:08.

Besieged, starved and bombarded, Newark was the last stronghold of

:20:09.:20:12.

Charles I in the North, and was all that stood between Oliver Cromwell

:20:13.:20:23.

and victory. But there was nothing civil about this war for the people

:20:24.:20:27.

of Newark, for whom there'd be a heavy price to pay. It is hard to

:20:28.:20:36.

visualise what it must have been like in those dark days of the

:20:37.:20:42.

17th`century. Here we have a very rare siege man from the time. It

:20:43.:20:46.

gave us an idea of what the population must have been up

:20:47.:20:52.

against. `` is very rare siege map. These lines show the parliamentarian

:20:53.:20:57.

forces circling the town. Within that bring, there were massive

:20:58.:21:05.

earthworks which pulled an even tighter news around the town. The

:21:06.:21:10.

population must have been wondering and worrying what would happen if

:21:11.:21:13.

the parliamentarians broke through those defences. And sacked the town.

:21:14.:21:18.

By the end of 1645, Newark was surrounded by 16,000 troops. The

:21:19.:21:21.

Royalist defenders were out` numbered ten to one and the 2,000

:21:22.:21:24.

townsfolk had every right to be terrified as the parliamentary

:21:25.:21:27.

artillery set its sights on the town. Solid shots can do a lot of

:21:28.:21:41.

damage. We are not talking about explosive devices. You have to

:21:42.:21:47.

remember that they heated up shelves are pushing cannons so that when it

:21:48.:21:53.

landed on fat it was set fire to it. They heated up the cannonballs? Oh,

:21:54.:22:01.

yes. And at the get mortars were even bigger and they were fired into

:22:02.:22:06.

the air and into the castle itself. Once it hit a building, it would

:22:07.:22:09.

flatten it. Newark's archives give a flavour of what it was like living

:22:10.:22:12.

through the siege. Supplies were running out and the citizens had to

:22:13.:22:24.

be resourceful. You have an absolute wealth of corridors. `` of relics.

:22:25.:22:35.

They go back to the paly lithic age. Of the siege, we have items such as

:22:36.:22:42.

the iconic Newark's each piece. This was at the period when people are

:22:43.:22:45.

having to mend their own money. So they can pay the soldiers. Where did

:22:46.:22:53.

they get the silver? The silver came from the ridge of the town but also

:22:54.:22:58.

some of it came from when Newark plundered Leicester. So it is done?

:22:59.:23:11.

So it is still in? Some of it. This is a ?30 cannonball. A mere ?30.

:23:12.:23:22.

That is quite heavy. It gives you an idea of the tribulations of the

:23:23.:23:26.

local populace. If that hits you, it cut you in half. It wasn't just

:23:27.:23:29.

cannonballs that were killing the royalist defenders. In the winter of

:23:30.:23:32.

1645, the bubonic plague took hold. Remarkable records have survived

:23:33.:23:35.

which show how the townsfolk tried to combat the disease. They strongly

:23:36.:23:43.

believed that plague was called by my asthma, bad smells. `` miasma. So

:23:44.:23:51.

those who are affluent enough would have tried to get antidotes. They

:23:52.:23:56.

consisted of masking smells. Hawthorne, marigold flowers, and

:23:57.:24:02.

these will be burnt to give off an incense. I think, looking at these,

:24:03.:24:07.

these were bought to make sure that the corporation and the offices of

:24:08.:24:13.

the town continue to meet. They would burn this in the council

:24:14.:24:17.

chambers to stop the council members from catching plague. Of course

:24:18.:24:20.

these measures didn't work. And for those who caught the plague, relief

:24:21.:24:25.

was minimal. They are shutting their homes to die, but they are fed. They

:24:26.:24:31.

are fed, but they are physically boarded up in their home. Yes.

:24:32.:24:38.

Pretty brutal. The plague was hard to avoid, but could something be

:24:39.:24:41.

done to dodge the shelling? Some local historians are convinced

:24:42.:24:43.

people sheltered in cellars. Legend has it that King Charles himself may

:24:44.:24:46.

have used a secret underground network to move around the town.

:24:47.:24:52.

There are some tunnels very close to Newark's marketplace but they were

:24:53.:25:01.

built in the 18th century. It fires up, bounces off his mirror...

:25:02.:25:04.

Archaeologists are now using a laser scanner to detect changes in the

:25:05.:25:07.

brickwork to see whether a much older network can be found. These 3D

:25:08.:25:10.

images of what's underneath the centre of Newark could hold the key

:25:11.:25:19.

to whether the legends are true. What we are hoping to find is that

:25:20.:25:24.

some of the sellers join up. There are tunnel legends in Newark and it

:25:25.:25:27.

would be nice to find some truth behind at least some of them.

:25:28.:25:34.

Eventually, you might be able to prove whether this story about King

:25:35.:25:40.

Charles escaping is true or false? Hopefully, that is what we try to do

:25:41.:25:44.

as archaeologists, sift the truth from the fiction. Back above ground

:25:45.:25:47.

` Newark's multi`million pound National Civil War Centre will open

:25:48.:25:51.

this time next year. It'll be housed in the town's Magnus building,

:25:52.:25:54.

itself a relic of the Civil War. Visitors will be able to experience

:25:55.:25:57.

the conflict in all its deadly detail. One in four of the

:25:58.:26:03.

population are dying. It was perishing the cold. Rivers are

:26:04.:26:06.

freezing over and yet they asked holding out, fighting for the King.

:26:07.:26:10.

The king's surrender at Newark in May 1646 marked the end of this

:26:11.:26:14.

phase of the Civil War. The town was bloodied but it hadn't been taken.

:26:15.:26:24.

Around 1500 soldiers marched out of the castle but for the civilians of

:26:25.:26:29.

Newark, it was about to get much, much worse. The archives reveal one

:26:30.:26:33.

final twist to this story. The siege may have been over, but Newark was

:26:34.:26:37.

in a desperate state. A sixth of its buildings were destroyed and disease

:26:38.:26:41.

was rife. The survivors fled to nearby villages. But as these rare

:26:42.:26:46.

parish records from East Stoke near Newark show, they also brought the

:26:47.:26:55.

plague with them. The location of trying to flee the plague are shown

:26:56.:27:02.

in this devastating testimony to the absolute destruction of the village

:27:03.:27:10.

and the community of East Stoke. The crosses represent plague victims.

:27:11.:27:16.

Every victim is a plague victim. You see whole families wiped out. As

:27:17.:27:20.

you get to this register, you will see pages and pages of deaths. It is

:27:21.:27:29.

visually stunning. But what it must have meant for the community must

:27:30.:27:35.

have been absolute devastation. It tells us here that 159 people died.

:27:36.:27:42.

History is always more fascinating when it is about more than just the

:27:43.:27:49.

stories of kings and queens. This is the story of what the population of

:27:50.:27:53.

Newark endured all those years ago. For the survivors that `` it was not

:27:54.:27:59.

history that was horrible, it was everyday existence.

:28:00.:28:06.

We have got news of a story we have covered in the past. In Lincolnshire

:28:07.:28:16.

teenager convicted of killing Rosie May at a party. We had information

:28:17.:28:23.

that a pathologist for that the death could have been an accident.

:28:24.:28:28.

But it was said that it was unrealistic. At a hearing in

:28:29.:28:32.

December, Paul Smith was refused leave to appeal against his

:28:33.:28:39.

conviction and sentence. That is all from here in Newark.

:28:40.:28:44.

Join us next week. We will be looking at the truth about real

:28:45.:28:49.

Whitby. Finding out how children getting good nights and following

:28:50.:28:53.

efforts to to bring the eel back to Lincolnshire rivers.

:28:54.:29:10.

A longer day, more exams and tougher discipline. That is what the

:29:11.:29:16.

government wants for pupils in England's state schools. Ministers

:29:17.:29:20.

believe it would bring standards closer to those in private schools.

:29:21.:29:25.

There is a warning over a social network raise after it was linked to

:29:26.:29:29.

guess in Ireland. It involves drinking and filming a stun. The

:29:30.:29:33.

body of the young man was found in the River. Tributes have poured in

:29:34.:29:38.

for the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. It is thought he died from

:29:39.:29:41.

a heroin

:29:42.:29:42.

Toby Foster looks at the stories that matter in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. This week Paul Murphy investigates whether casual contracts and poor safety practices have led to deaths and accidents on our railways, Toby asks what the abolition of the spare room subsidy really means for people living in Grimsby and Horrible Histories author Terry Deary finds out about Newark's key role in the English Civil War.


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