Four people were arrested and dozens fined after a crowd of at least 600 people gathered for an anti-lockdown protest this weekend.
The protest began around 1pm on Sunday November 8th with little social distancing and none of the protestors wearing masks.
GMP said there were 600 individuals in attendance and that some had travelled to Manchester in a coach from Cumbria.
Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain said in a statement “I would like to use this opportunity to publically condemn this gathering.
“Both the organisers and attendees were irresponsible – increasing demand on police who are also responding to calls regarding serious incidents and people who are in immediate danger across Greater Manchester.
“Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, officers authorised a Section 34 Dispersal Order.
“They also arrested four people on suspicion of public order offences and issued 24 £200 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs). Enquiries are ongoing to also issue an FPN to the organiser.”
He continued: “Whilst responding to this gathering, a number of officers were injured. This is unacceptable behaviour towards officers who were simply doing their job and protecting people. Investigators will now work to identify those responsible and ensure they face justice.
“I would also like to remind members of the public that these restrictions are to control the spread of Covid-19 and protect everyone – including you and your loved ones as well as the NHS.
“I encourage you to do your bit to fight the virus by complying with the restrictions and staying at home.”
Many of the anti-lockdown protesters were carrying placards. One of which read: “Fear is the currency of control” and another said: “How are you liking your six month free trial to the new world order?”
The event was dispersed by police at around 5pm after receiving confirmation they had authorisation for a dispersal order at 2pm. At 4pm the crowd had not dispersed so police moved in. There were four arrests and 20 fines.
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins spoke to the MEN condemning the gathering. He said: “Utterly ridiculous behaviour from the organisers and the protesters, deliberately breaking the law and putting our communities at risk.”
Hopkins added that the event put a strain on GMP resources at a time when almost one in ten of the force’s staff are off work due to Covid-19.
Mental health nurse fined £10,000 after organising protest over ‘offensive’ NHS 1% pay rise
The nurse who organised a protest in Manchester city centre yesterday about the ‘offensive’ 1% pay rise for NHS workers will be fined £10,000.
Mental health worker and Unison rep, Karen Reissmann attended the demonstration in St Peter’s Square on Sunday at midday.
Attendees were wearing masks and cones were marked on the floor to help everyone maintain social distancing.
However, Karen, aged 61, was spoken to before the protest could go ahead by officers from Greater Manchester Police.
Officers explained that due to the current Covid-19 restrictions the protest would be illegal.
Karen explained that the protest would have to end to those in attendance and the gathering dispersed.
Once the crowd had dispersed, Karen spoke to officers on the edge of St Peter’s Square and was told she would be handed the £10,000 fine.
A 65-year-old woman who stayed with Karen was arrested for ‘failing to provide details having refused the opportunity to leave when asked’. She was later de-arrested after providing details and was given a £200 fine.
Around 40 people attended the gathering according to a statement released by GMP on Sunday afternoon. They added that officers engaged early ‘using the first of the four Es approach – engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance with legislation.’
Supt, Caroline Hemingway said: “With the positive step of schools reopening tomorrow, it is vital that people continue to follow Government legislation on social distancing and avoid gathering illegally in large numbers.
“Regardless of one’s sympathies for a protest’s cause, we would ask the public to maintain social distancing and follow legislation to prevent a rise in infections and provide the best possible chance of a further easing of restrictions in the weeks to come.
“We sought to engage with and peaceably disperse those attending this afternoon’s protest, explaining that the gathering was in contravention of Government lockdown rules.
“Unfortunately officers were met with a degree of non-compliance and it was therefore necessary to enforce issue FPNs.”
Speaking to the crowd, Karen said: “Unfortunately the police have told us we can’t proceed with this despite what’s going on in the health service.
“We’ve been told we will not be able to go ahead with this, I’ll be fined and reported to my employer and disciplined and people here will be fined as well, so we will therefore be shutting it down.
“I think we’ve made the point we wanted to make, we sent a message to the government. I think it’s outrageous that somehow this is deemed illegal when the size of the crowd here will be ten times bigger in hundreds and thousands of schools tomorrow morning.
“This isn’t about safety, this is about the government trying to stamp down on protest which I think is a dying shame. The health service will lose out.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Karen pay the fine.
Fred Perry is opening a huge new flagship store in Afflecks
Who’s excited for this?
In some good news for our city centre, Fred Perry has announced that it will be opening a huge new store in the Northern Quarter.
The new flagship store will be located at the bottom of the Afflecks building, and is welcome news following the recent closure of high street stalwarts like Debenhams and Topshop.
Fred Perry will be moving from its current location on Police Street to open the new, bigger flagship store on the corner of Oldham Street and Church Street.
The site will see the iconic British brand move into the 2,820 sq ft unit this summer, joining Manchester’s legendary Afflecks which is owned by Bruntwood Works.
Fred Perry was co-founded by the Stockport-born tennis champion of the same name back in the late 1940s, and has gained worldwide fame for its laurel wreath logo and polo shirts.
Richard Gilmore, managing director at Fred Perry, said: “We’re delighted to be moving to the Northern Quarter. The area has no shortage of strong associations to ground-breaking music and subcultural style – something we continue to champion.
“Our retail spaces aren’t just shops, and we’re looking forward to sharing what we do with the Manchester community as part of an exciting continuation of Fred Perry and Afflecks’ mutual commitment to heritage and innovation.
“We now have a space we can be truly proud of in Manchester.”
Chris Middleton, senior retail manager at Bruntwood Works, added: “Fred Perry is a true icon, and we’re delighted to be welcoming them to the ground floor of our famous Afflecks building.
“The addition of this much-loved brand will bolster the retail community in the Northern Quarter neighbourhood, building on Oldham Street’s offering as a lifestyle-led shopping destination.
“It feels particularly exciting to be announcing the news after what has been a challenging twelve months for retail, as we look forward to a bright future for Manchester city centre.”
The new Fred Perry store will open this summer, although an exact date has yet to be released.
People on working tax credits will get a £500 one-off payment, Rishi Sunak confirms
Make sure you know about this
Brits on tax credits get a one-off benefits payment of £500, Rishi Sunak reveals in budget.
Outlined in the budget, Sunak explained that a £20 weekly increase in universal credit will extend for a further six months.
The chancellor explains that by the way Working Tax Credits system works people will not be able to receive the extra £20 weekly.
Instead, people will benefit from a £500 one-off payment.
Mr Sunak said: “To support low-income households, the Universal Credit uplift of £20 a week will continue for a further six months, well beyond the end of this national lockdown
“We’ll provide Working Tax Credit claimants with equivalent support for the next six months.
“Because of the way that system works operationally, we’ll need to do so with a one-off payment of £500.”
The £500 tax credit boost will run in the same way that the Universal Credit is paid – automatically.
Lots of people have switched from the old ‘Tax Credit’ to the new ‘Universal Credit’ system. Anyone who hasn’t yet been transferred across will now be eligible for this new one-off payment.
The number of people claiming universal credit in the UK has doubled since the start of the pandemic, reaching 6 million people at the start of this year.
The extra benefit support is welcomed but many are raising concerns that six months is not long enough.
Sunak also revealed in today’s budget that furlough will be extended until September but employers will have to pay 10% of the employee’s wages in July and 20% in August and September.
You can see a round-up of all the key points from the budget here.