Police have handed out multiple £800 fines to students in Fallowfield for allegedly holding a ‘large gathering’ in their common room.
Officers entered halls of residence twice over the weekend in south Manchester to question students over their socialising.
Furious parents and students have accused Greater Manchester Police of heavy-handed tactics facilitated by the University of Manchester, the MEN reveals.
Students say police raided Owens Park halls of residence at around 11pm on Friday and 2:30am on Sunday over a potential breach of lockdown rules.
Under coronavirus law, police do not have power of entry and need a warrant to enter and search premises.
The exception to this rule is if they have ‘reasonable grounds to suspect that a person within is potentially infectious, and they need to direct or remove the person for screening and assessment’.
However, under the Manchester University’s student accommodation contracts, the uni and ‘anyone authorised’ by staff has the right to enter without prior notice.
GMP insist students who were fined showed ‘blatant disregard’ to the rules and that their ‘proactive patrols’ inside the accommodation were agreed with the uni in advance.
One student spoke to the MEN, saying that a number of her flatmates were issued £800 fines each on Friday because more than 15 people from the same block were in the common room.
She said: “There’s four floors with up to fourteen people on each one. Each floor is your household and at the start of the year the common room was locked.
“We asked for it to be unlocked because otherwise there’s nowhere else for us to sit other than our rooms. I think when police came there was about 15 people in the common room, but they were all from our block.
“The way the building is laid out makes it impossible not to mix between floors. People are always walking between floors. And when we go to the canteen we’re all put in there together.”
She continued: “They brought us into the common room and were getting people from other floors, there must have been 25 people in the end.
“We weren’t able to social distance so it seemed to really defeat the point. They said we were all getting an £800 for being part of a large gathering.
“People were weeping.”
“It’s stupid – they’re fining us for being in a student common room. This whole accommodation doesn’t fit the regulations.
“We’re all mingled together all the time, we can’t stop that, we share everything. People were really upset.”
Students were advised not to return to campus this term unless their course required face-to-face teaching like medicine, due to the latest national lockdown. One student estimated that around 70% of students did return.
The University of Manchester outlined its policy saying: “If you are living in a flat then this is considered to be a household. If you are living in halls that are corridor based then we have identified rooms (maximum of 15) that will be designated as a household and you will be required to ensure that you use the facilities which are for your household only.
“Any government guidance for households will apply in all cases.”
Students say they feel the issue did not require the involvement of the police.
One student said: “We got an email last week reminding us about parties. But nothing about the household rules and using the common room. It’s so disproportionate the force they applied.
“Today they knocked on my bedroom door at 2 in the morning when I was asleep. They said it was just to chase up some details about the night before.
“It’s awful, who’s letting them do this? I haven’t seen a Uni security guard this whole time, it’s just hordes of police.
“They turn up in a van with 10 to 15 of them and storm in at once and scare everyone to death. Surely campus security could have handled this?”
Another student added: “People were traumatised by it, we were literally just having dinner with friends.
“The police just wouldn’t understand. They said we shouldn’t be at uni in the first place and that we weren’t supposed to use the common rooms.
“It’s like walking into someone’s house, it wouldn’t happen in a normal household outside uni. It’s just cruel.
“Everyone is just terrified now and no one is leaving their rooms – we don’t know when police might come back.”
First ever permanent pug cafe to open in Greater Manchester
If you’re a fan of pugs, you’re going to love this!
A brand new cafe full of adorable and playful pugs is set to open in Greater Manchester.
You could go for a coffee and cake while 10 cute pugs cuddle, play and come for treats from your hands at this brand new cafe concept opening on Chapel Street in Salford.
Already a huge hit in London, with visitors from near and far, Cuppapug will be opening its first café in the North West – and its second venue – with a soft launch on Friday March 1st.
Pug lovers can book in at the cafe for an hour of crazy or chilled pug time, suitable for all the family to enjoy.
Cuppapug is a cafe concept created by couple – and owners of seven pugs – Aaron Carty and Matthew Pieterse, who opened the doors to their first venue in London in 2022.
Fully opening to the public on March 21st, visitors to Cuppapug can expect the adorable, furry four-legged friends running around the cafe, playing in ball pits and eating carrots and treats from your hands.
The menu will feature a host of doggy-themed drinks and cakes as well as treats for the doggos such as puppuccinos.
In case you’re wondering where the pugs go at the end of the day, each one belongs to local owners who drop their loveable fur baby off at the cafe for a day of mischief and fun.
Also in the CuppaPug family are Gaston, Bruce, Bowser, Beau, Gizmo, Bebe, and Baloo – Aaron and Matt’s pugs who’ve been staying with them at The Kimpton Clocktower as they prep the site for opening.
Speaking to Proper Manchester about the new opening, Aaron said: “We chose Manchester because we discovered it is a city full of dog lovers who love pugs.
“We get so many people visiting our London cafe from the North, we’ve even people catching flights from Hawaii, so it seemed like the right place to open our next Cuppapug.”
On why he and Matt love pugs so much, Aaron said: “I think of pugs being a lot like myself and I also love an underdog – and pugs are an underdog of the dog world.
“People think they are unfit, unhealthy and have breathing issues but that’s not true. We actually train our pugs to enjoy carrots, walk a lot, and our pet pugs enjoy a steak night every week – even I don’t get that!”
The Salford Cuppapug will also be partnering with Manchester Pug Thing, who rescue and rehome pugs, with £1 from every ticket going towards the pug rescue charity.
Aaron added: “We’ve had such overwhelming support and positive messages about our Manchester opening, it’s been absolutely amazing.
“It’s already a nerve-wrecking experience deciding to open a second venue but we’re really happy to have chosen to do it in Manchester and we’re really happy Manchester has chosen us. We’ve had so many drivers going past and beeping us and people asking ‘is this the pug place?’
“We’re having a launch party on March 21st and are really excited to open.”
CuppaPug officially opens to the public on March 21st 6-10pm, following a soft launch this Friday (March 1st). You can find the cafe and pugs on Chapel Street, Salford – it’s bright pink, you can’t miss it!
Primary school in Greater Manchester evacuated after nearby ‘gas explosion’
A primary school in Greater Manchester has been evacuated after a ‘gas explosion’ at a nearby house.
The incident happened earlier today (February 28th) near to St Luke’s primary school in Bury.
Councillor Tamoor Tariq said everyone who lived nearby has also been taken to a place of safety after the blast, which happened in the Fishpool area.
At around 12pm, he posted on Facebook: “Heartbreaking to share there has been a gas explosion in the last few minutes right across from my house.
“I understand everyone has been taken into a place of safety and emergency services are doing all possible to deal with this awful situation.
“St Luke’s primary have also evacuated children, as they are just yards away. I remain out of the country due to a family member being critical, but I am keeping in touch with all relevant people/authorities.”
In a further comment, Mr Tamoor added: “An elderly neighbour has been taken into hospital, all others affected are in a safe and secure place of their choosing. Praying our neighbour will be ok and get the treatment she needs.”
A Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said ‘multiple crews’ had been dispatched to the scene.
They added: “Residents in the area are advised to keep windows and doors closed and avoid the scene while crews carry out their work.”
A woman in her 70s has been taken to hospital with ‘serious injuries’, Greater Manchester Police said.
Issuing a statement on social media, GMP said: “Emergency services are currently responding to a report of an explosion at a property on Nelson Street in the Fishpool area of Bury.
“At this stage, a woman in her 70s has been taken to hospital with serious injuries. A 200 metre cordon is in place around the property and neighbouring homes.
“Local residents and the community will be made aware if they need to take any further action.”
Iceland announces it’s discounting baby formula to cut price of £7.95
Iceland CEO Richard Walker says says ‘businesses need to step up and do more’
Iceland has launched reduced cost baby formula in a bid to do more to help families through the cost of living crisis.
Iceland CEO Richard Walker is determined to bring down the cost of baby formula, and says ‘businesses need to step up and do more’.
The businessman has made it his mission after hearing heartbreaking tales from parents who have been struggling to feed their families amid spiralling costs.
Mr Walker, a dad-of-two, told Metro: “We’ve heard terrible stories of customers watering down feeds, skipping feeds or ignoring sell by dates, all of which is really bad for the baby. That prompted us to take action.”
Iceland slashed prices earlier this year, revealing three of its Aptamil formula milk products would sell at £11.20 – a move which led other supermarkets including Asda and Tesco to reduce their own prices.
Now, Iceland has confirmed it is selling 800g of SMA’s Little Steps formula milk for £7.95 across its stores and online from Tuesday February 27th – £1.80 cheaper than its rivals.
Mr Walker insisted it’s not just a clever business move either, as he continued: “The price is a mind-blowing £7.95 which makes it the cheapest infant formula milk on the market. I think it will really really help our customers.
“We’re not making any profit out of this now. We’re passing on the savings which we’re managing to persuade the manufacturer to give straight on to our customers.”
The baby formula industry is currently under investigation after prices rose by an average of 25% in the past two years.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said it is looking into whether companies have been exploiting parents for profit.
Iceland’s launch of lower priced baby formula has also gained the support of Mumsnet.
The eight-million strong parenting group have announced they are joining forces with Formula For Change – Metro’s campaign to lower baby formula prices.
Mr Walker has also signed the petition and is calling on parents to sign it and help push it over the line.
Politicians may soon be forced to address the scandal as the Formula for Change petition is almost at the 100,000 signatures mark – the crucial threshold needed for a parliamentary debate on the issue.
Mr Walker also told the publication: “Formula for Change is absolutely fantastic. The Prime Minister has said he is ‘sad’ families are watering down formula to try and make it last longer, but again these are just words.”