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Police rescue ‘30 Christmas shoppers’ trapped inside building on Counterfeit Street

‘Our officers had a duty of care to force their way in’

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Greater Manchester Police

Police officers were forced to rescue ‘30 Christmas shoppers’ from a building on Manchester’s notorious ‘Counterfeit Street’.

Officers from Operation Vulcan rescued a group of people who had been left trapped inside a building in the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways area last Tuesday, December 6th.

While conducting high visibility patrols in the area, officers heard people inside a shop shouting for help.

After forcing entry under section 17 powers – an emergency warrant that is granted to preserve life – the police managed to rescue the group who were found huddled inside.

Greater Manchester Police

One of the shop workers had been alerted by ‘spotters’ in the area – people who are paid to keep watch and alert illegitimate business owners of approaching police officers.

They had then locked up the business and ran away, leaving members of the public trapped inside.

On rescuing the startled group, GMP say that officers found an elderly lady among them who had a broken arm and needed assistance getting down the steep and narrow flight of stairs to the exit.

After searching the building, officers found a ‘rabbit warren’ of single room shops selling counterfeit designer clothes, watches, electronics and various other items.

It took them five days to bag, tag and seize all the items within the building, due to the sheer amount of counterfeit goods stocked there.

Detective Superintendent Neil Blackwood said: “Our officers had a duty of care to force their way in and safeguard the individuals who had been trapped inside a building that was structurally unsound, utterly unsafe and from which they had absolutely no means of escape.

“I appreciate that at Christmas time everyone wants to find a bargain, but by going to these illegal shops in the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways area, consumers are not only funding criminality, they are also putting themselves in very real danger.

“This isn’t the first report we’ve heard of members of the public being locked in – sometimes for hours – and we’ve even received reports of customers being assaulted by staff.”

City of London Police

He continued: “This latest seizure will make a dent in the finances of criminals but where Operation Vulcan will make the most impact is if members of the public start to shun these illegal businesses.

“They are bringing devastating harm to our communities and those running them have no regard for your safety or welfare.”

This action by police was part of Operation Vulcan’s mission to crackdown on the sale of counterfeit goods, in a bid to hit the finances of the gangs operating out of the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways area.

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Wetherspoons to close pubs across UK with CEO blaming ‘people drinking at home’

CEO Tim Martin has said the closures are down to people opting to ‘drink at home’.

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Wetherspoons & Helena Lopes/Pexels

Wetherspoons has announced a number of closures of its low budget pubs across the UK and is looking to sell more off.

Low-cost pub chain JD Wetherspoon, owned by Tim Martin, has announced plans to close 11 of its pubs due to spiralling costs and are putting 35 more up for sale. The moves comes after the high street chain suffered a huge £30m loss and has described the plans as a ‘commercial decision’.

Chairman Mr Martin has said the closures are down to people opting to ‘drink at home’, especially after the Covid lockdowns.

The hospitality chain said like-for-like sales surged by nearly 18% over the last three months of 2022, when compared with the same period in 2021. However, sales still remained 2% lower than the equivalent pre-pandemic period in 2019.

 

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Mr Martin, told the PA News Agency: “The aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have been far more difficult than anyone thought.

“That is the picture for the whole pub and restaurant industry. People thought that after lockdown there would be a boom in people suffering from cabin fever but, instead, it has almost been the opposite situation as people have got in the habit of staying in.

“That’s the big thing that means sales are down on 2019. Things are improving now but it’s slow.”

Is your Wetherspoons local at risk of closure? Here’s the full list of pubs which have been sold and are up for sale.

Pubs which have been sold:

  • Harvest Moon, Orpington
  • Alexander Bain, Wick
  • Chapel an Gansblydhen, Bodmin
  • Moon on the Square, Basildon
  • Coal Orchard, Taunton
  • Running Horse, Airside Doncaster Airport
  • Wild Rose, Bootle
  • Edmund Halley, Lee Green
  • The Willow Grove, Southport
  • Postal Order, Worcester
  • North and South Wales Bank, Wrexham

Pubs still up for sale:

  • The Butlers Bell, Stafford
  • Worlds Inn, Romford
  • Silkstone Inn, Barnsley
  • Wrong ‘Un, Bexleyheath
  • The Percy Shaw, Halifax
  • Jolly Sailor, Hanham
  • The Alfred Herring, Palmers Green
  • The Moon & Bell, Loughborough
  • The Widow Frost, Mansfield
  • Resolution, Middlesbrough
  • Foxley Hatch, Purley
  • The Rising Sun, Redditch
  • Sennockian, Sevenoaks
  • Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis, Southampton
  • The Colombia Press, Watford
  • The Malthouse, Willenhall
  • The John Masefield, New Ferry
  • The Crosse Keys, Peebles
  • Lord Arthur Lee, Fareham
  • The Saltoun Inn, Fraserburgh
  • General Sir Redvers Buller, Crediton
  • Plough & Harrow, Hammersmith
  • Thomas Leaper, Derby
  • Cliftonville, Hove
  • Tollgate, Turnpike Lane
  • Asparagus, Battersea
  • Millers Well, East Ham
  • Hudson Bay, Forest Gate
  • Angel, Islington
  • The Billiard Hall, West Bromwich
  • Capitol, Forest Hill
  • The Bankers Draft, Eltham
  • Moon on the Hill, Harrow
  • The Bank House, Cheltenham
  • Last Post, Loughton

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Son of woman who died of hypothermia because she ‘couldn’t afford heating’ speaks out

He assured his mother not to worry about the bills and that he would help her to pay them.

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David Dixon/Geograph & Google Maps

The son of a woman who died of hypothermia after saying that she couldn’t afford to put her heating on has spoken about his tragic loss.

Mark Bolton, 61, assured his mother not to worry about the bills and that he would help her to pay them, but she had refused his offer. Barbara Bolton, 87, told her relatives that she felt cold when they visited her home on Dawson Street, in Bury.

She was rushed to Fairfield general Hospital where she was diagnosed with hypothermia and also had a chest infection. Despite the efforts of doctors and medical staff around her, Barbara’s condition deteriorated and sadly, she passed away on January 5th, just a number of weeks after she was admitted.

Mark said he spoke to his mum every night and that she worried about her heating bills, despite his assurances he would cover the costs, telling The Mirror: “She was concerned about all her bills because she was a pensioner.

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“She was careful, she was mindful of the prices and worried about them going up. But she was very stubborn and proud about paying her own way.”

Barbara was found sitting in her kitchen by one of her grandchildren when they went round because they couldn’t get hold of her, when she said that she ‘felt cold’.

Police coroner’s officer, Jane Scullion, told the hearing: “Barbara was admitted to hospital on December 11th 2022, with hypothermia, and a chest infection.

“During that time she continued to deteriorate. After a discussion, she was placed on end-of-life care and passed away.”

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Assistant coroner for Manchester North, Julie Mitchel, adjourned the inquest and requested statements from her doctor, and also asked for a medical cause of death to be provided.

She said: “Her death was particularly accelerated by hypothermia and there is a possibility of self-neglect due to the lack of heating so her death has been referred to the coroner.”

Barbara’s neighbours said they were ‘shocked’ and ‘saddened’ upon the news of her death, and said she had lived there for several decades.

One man said: “I think Barbara must have lived here about 50 years. I know that she was working at the chemist in Tesco until fairly recently. It’s so sad.”

And a woman said: “I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. It’s so sad. She was a really nice woman and lived here for years but more recently kept herself to herself.”

A full inquest, which will explore the circumstances which led to Barbara’s death, will take place at Rochdale Coroners’ Court later this year.

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Police issue warning to anyone heading to the Trafford Centre this weekend

Police have a warning for visitors of the Trafford Centre travelling by car.

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Greater Manchester Police & Senior Airman Sean Madden/Flickr

Police say they have noticed an increase in the number of vehicles being stolen, particularly from the Trafford Centre.

Thieves are using signal jammers and scanning devices to steal customer’s cars using the Trafford Centre car park. Among the cars being targeted are Land Rovers and Ford Fiestas in a spate of shopping centre motor thefts around the Trafford area.

Officers have already made 11 arrests since January 10th this year, with one car being recovered. As they launch ‘Operation Lexford’ — which aims to robustly tackle vehicle theft in the area Greater Manchester Police are issuing a warning to car owners.

GMP have been working in partnership with the Trafford Centre security team and together they have now set up ‘Operation Lexford’ to prevent crime and target those who are coming to Trafford to steal specific types of vehicles.

Greater Manchester Police

Chief Inspector Shoheb Chowdhury of GMP’s Trafford District, said: “This operation is an excellent example of GMP’s commitment to tackling vehicle crime across Greater Manchester.

“A lot of the work GMP does to tackle the issue may not be visible but catching those responsible remains a force priority. Cars are of great value to people and we understand that having a car stolen can have a huge impact both financially and emotionally.”

Reassuring the vehicle owners using car parks in Trafford, he added: “As part of the operation, there will be an increased police presence at the Trafford Centre and we will be holding weekly police surgeries with focus on providing people with tailored crime prevention advice.

“We will continue to work to bring offenders to justice, but I would ask the public to help us to help them, by being vigilant when visiting the Trafford Centre, and to follow our simple crime prevention advice found on the crime prevention page on our website.”

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A spokesperson from Trafford Centre also said: “Our security and customer services teams take car theft very seriously and we are working closely with Greater Manchester Police on this issue. We minimise car theft on-site through the use of ANPR, CCTV and camera patrols so all vehicles entering and leaving the car parks are monitored and logged.

“This data and footage is made available to GMP as required. We also deploy high profile patrols in all car parks to deter thieves and run multiple police operations on-site to apprehend offenders.”

GMP officers have also issued some advice for vehicle owners to help them in preventing the thefts including: double checking your car is locked, investing in a faraday bag, not leaving your belongings on display, investing in a tracking device and using a steering wheel lock.

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