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Merseyside gym fined for ignoring Tier 3 rules and refusing to close to save the business

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Police have fined a gym owner who refused to close his business on the first day of Tier 3 restrictions in Merseyside.

A gym based in Wirral is the first to be fined after failing to comply with the tough new Tier 3 restrictions.

Liverpool City Region was placed in Tier 3 earlier this week, which sees the closure of gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos from yesterday, Wednesday October 14th. 

However, owner of Body Tech Fitness in Moreton, Nick Whitcombe defied the new rules, keeping his gym open because there ‘won’t [be a gym] to come back to’ if he didn’t. 

A video of police standing guard among gym members using the equipment has been shared widely on social media. 

Body Tech Fitness is one of two gyms in the Wirral that said they would stay open despite the new rules.

Mr Whitcombe shared a video on Instagram where he said: “We have just received our first £1,000 fine at Body Tech.

“After meeting with the police yesterday, they told us we would get a warning first day, then a second warning, £100 fine, £200 fine and so on.

“They were with us this morning gave us our warning, came back this afternoon. Orders from their top boss to issue a fine straight away.

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WE ARE STAYING OPEN TO OUR MEMBERS Today the UK’s Government has took it upon themselves to close gyms in the North West, despite the overwhelming evidence that gyms are not a major spreaders of COVID. We respected the last lockdown although we financially suffered and only survived because of our amazing members. However they now want us to close, with minimum financial support for 6 months. We get no rent break, bills break both personally and as a business. We are not staying open for financial gain but more for our members mental and physical well-being. Gym’s should be supported in fighting against COVID, obesity, mental health and many other conditions and diseases. So let’s look at the facts and evidence that has lead us to this decision and what the Government should be looking at: UKActive published this study • 22,000,000 (22 million) gym visits resulted in a mere 78 Covid cases • Uk gyms showing just 0.35 cases per 100,000 visits Then we have the latest (unpublished study) since the increase in positive tests https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-54464470 • Gyms are still only showing 1.7% percent of cases, but they want to close us and keep restaurants open which have a higher rate of 9.6% cases, which is still CRAZY LOW so these should also stay open. Mental health – the gym helps so many people with their mental health daily. • Male suicide is now at an all time high – https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3431 Data published by the Office for National Statistics on 1 September showed that in 2019 the suicide rate among men and boys was 16.9 deaths per 100 000, the highest since 2000 and slightly above the 2018 rate of 16.2 per 100 000. The suicide rate among women and girls was 5.3 deaths per 100 000 in 2019, up from 5.0 per 100 000 in 2018 and the highest since 2004. Overall, 5691 suicides (4303 in men and boys) were registered in England and Wales in 2019, giving an age standardised rate of 11 deaths per 100 000 people. A total of 5420 were registered in 2018 (10.5 per 100 000). https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-liverpool-gyms

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“They’ve told us close immediately or face a £1,000 fine. Obviously, we still had quite a lot of members training and I said to the officers, ‘I’m not asking anyone to leave. Even if I am I’m going to let them finish their sessions first.

“So they’ve issued the fine. First one is £1,000, they can come back in three hours issue £2,000, three hours after that £4,000.”

In a previous video where Mr Whitcombe announced his refusal to close the gym, he said: “If we close our facility we won’t have one to come back to. We will not have a gym to come back to.

“There will be no business, there will be no gym, there will be no jobs.”

He explained that gyms are vital for ‘our physical and mental health’, adding: “Keep fighting the good fight. The gyms need to stay open.”

A petition with over 100,000 signatures has raised £28,800 on a Crowdfunding page to ‘save the gyms’ in the North West.

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We are so close to having this turned around, please support us, we can do this. https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-liverpool-gyms • 22,000,000 (22 million) gym visits resulted in a mere 78 Covid cases • Uk gyms showing just 0.35 cases per 100,000 visits Then we have the latest (unpublished study) since the increase in positive tests https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-54464470 • Gyms are still only showing 1.7% percent of cases, but they want to close us and keep restaurants open which have a higher rate of 9.6% cases, which is still CRAZY LOW so these should also stay open. Mental health – the gym helps so many people with their mental health daily. • Male suicide is now at an all time high – https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3431 Data published by the Office for National Statistics on 1 September showed that in 2019 the suicide rate among men and boys was 16.9 deaths per 100 000, the highest since 2000 and slightly above the 2018 rate of 16.2 per 100 000. The suicide rate among women and girls was 5.3 deaths per 100 000 in 2019, up from 5.0 per 100 000 in 2018 and the highest since 2004. Overall, 5691 suicides (4303 in men and boys) were registered in England and Wales in 2019, giving an age standardised rate of 11 deaths per 100 000 people. A total of 5420 were registered in 2018 (10.5 per 100 000). Further supported by this https://academic.oup.com/qjmed/article/113/10/707/5857612 which discusses suicide, mental health and COVID The Government has ignored all the above facts and evidence and even ignored the calls of the Great Barrington Declaration 7,000 scientists & medics worldwide calling for a new strategy to allow us to live our lives. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/coronavirus-lockdown-measures-restrictions-boris-johnson-great-barrington-b862393.html Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool has also last week, stated he does not agree with the measures the government are enforcing on Merseyside and they did not let him have a say about HIS REGION and that the government are “more interested in what they look like, rather than the evidence”

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Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Mr Whitcombe said that the police were ‘fair and polite’.

He added: “I appreciate that they’re only doing their job and we treated them with equal respect as I’m sure the sergeant will confirm.”

Chief Superintendent Claire Richards said: “We understand that people are frustrated with the current situation and for a number of local businesses, including the fitness and leisure industry, this will be particularly hard.

“It’s not that long ago that gyms reopened their doors after lockdown and they did so after making huge changes to the way they work for the safety and protection of their customers.

“But while this lockdown does present huge challenges, the focus of us all should now be on preventing the spread of the virus and getting us back to normality as safely and as quickly as possible.

“The new restrictions have been brought in to try to achieve that, and if we don’t act decisively and collaboratively, the impact could be harder and last even longer.

“We will therefore continue to encourage members of the public and businesses to adhere to the guidance, explain why they should and – as in this case – use enforcement where there are clear breaches of legislation.”

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First ever permanent pug cafe to open in Greater Manchester

If you’re a fan of pugs, you’re going to love this!

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Cuppapug

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.

Cuppapug

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.

Cuppapug

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.”

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!

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Primary school in Greater Manchester evacuated after nearby ‘gas explosion’

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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.

Tamoor Tariq / Facebook

“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.”

Tamoor Tariq / Facebook

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.

Tamoor Tariq / Facebook

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.”

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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’

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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.

Edward Hands / Wikimedia

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.

Ben Kerckx / Wikimedia

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.

Donald_Trung / Wikimedia

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.”

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