A group of around 15 students have barricaded themselves in the normally empty Owens Park tower in rent protest.
Students of the University of Manchester have occupied a building in protest against being told to pay full rent fees this term.
It comes after students found themselves quite literally fenced into their accommodation one morning, after metal fencing had been erected overnight.
The students who have occupied Owens Park tower unveiled a poster that read ‘this is an occupied building UoM Rent Strike’.
The students explain they have enough supplies of food and drink to last several weeks and that they will not leave until their demands are met.
They are calling for discounted rental fees due to the current circumstances, which sees them paying around £1,500 on average for their rooms where they have been locked up and unable to use any communal facilities.
They are calling for a meeting with the university’s vice-chancellor, Dame Nancy Rothwell.
Speaking to the MEN one student who is taking part in the rent strike, 18-year-old Ben McGowan, said he and up to 200 other students have refused to pay the full amount of rent for the autumn term.
He said: “The campaign has really ramped up in the last few weeks but the Uni has essentially just ignored us. They said they were going to fine us 3% extra per day that we didn’t pay the rent.
“Then they sent this email saying they could kick us off our course, although they can’t. We’ve tried to have a meeting and they’ve just refused. “
He continued: “We want a discount on the rent because of what’s happened this term, in terms of that facilities that meant to be covered by rent, things like common rooms – we’ve not got access.
“I think December should be wiped off when we’re not in. The entire campus is shut down, the cost of uni upkeep must be down, there’s no justification for the full fees.
“We are also calling for the university not to make any redundancies this year in solidarity with the staff.”
The students suggested a 40% discount for the 2020/21 year in a letter to Prof Rothwell.
It comes amid widespread concerns regarding the mental health strain being put on students who are being asked to self-isolate with little to no support.
A UK study found that suicidal thoughts have increased among young adults in the lockdown. A second study found that 80% of (medical) students with mental health issues felt under-supported, and that they had poor or moderately adequate support.
A 19-year-old who was suffering from mental health issues was found dead in his halls in Fallowfield. His father slammed the lack of support for the young people locked down due to Covid-19.
A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “We are aware of the protest by a handful of students in an empty residential building. We have made it clear to them that they shouldn’t be there and that they may also be in contravention of current national Health Protection Regulations.
“We are already engaging with elected Students’ Union representatives about many of the issues being highlighted by the protestors.
“The University is fully committed to freedom of expression.”
Drivers could soon be fined for parking on the pavement under new rules
Make sure you’re aware of the proposed rule changes
A ban on parking on the pavement could soon be implemented across England, under new laws which are expected to be rolled out this year.
Parking on pavements would be a thing of the past, with £70 penalty fines for offenders coming into effect under the proposed new rules.
According to reports, the new legislation would see a ban on antisocial parking introduced, in a bid to make pavements safer for people with disabilities and visual impairments, as well as families.
The changes to the law which are being considered have already been implemented in London and would be rolled out nationwide.
They come in response to complaints about pavement parking and the risks it brings with it to those whose use pavements, with the Department for Transport (DfT) initially launching a proposal on the subject in September 2020.
The proposals came after a review discovered that almost half of wheelchair users and a third of visually impaired people were less willing to go out on the streets alone due to ‘antisocial’ parking on the pavement.
A spokeswoman from the DfT explained to The Mirror that the government is currently collating responses after receiving ‘overwhelming’ feedback.
The public consultation period for the proposals ended back on November 22nd, and as such a decision on the plan is expected imminently.
However, Mark Tongue, director of Select Car Leasing has said that ‘the guidelines are currently quite confusing for motorists’.
The motoring company conducted a report which discovered that local authorities would have the power to dish out £70 fines if a vehicle was considered an obstruction, even if it was parked outside the driver’s house.
Mr Tongue said: “A pavement parking ban is 100% needed nationwide – anything that puts pedestrians at an increased risk requires action.
“However, the information given so far is slightly confusing for drivers. At the moment, there’s no clear guidelines for those who park on the pavement due to having no room on their own drive. Most households have more than one car, so it will be interesting to see where motorists are expected to park if not on the pavement outside their homes.
“Clear guidance is required for drivers so they know the correct location to park in order to avoid a fine.”
Operation Forth Bridge: the full plan for what happens next after Prince Philip’s death
Buckingham Palace confirmed the sad news of his passing earlier today
Buckingham Palace announced this afternoon that HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh has died.
The 99-year-old, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in June, passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle this morning, Friday April 9th.
Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
There were already strict procedures put in place for when Prince Philip died, which have now begun, and they’re known as Operation Forth Bridge.
According to the plan there are several steps that need to be followed, including everything from national mourning to a burial site for the Duke.
Operation Forth Bridge has been around for many years, with Buckingham Palace, in consultation with both the Queen and Prince Philip, regularly updating and reviewing it.
Part one of the operation was the announcement from Buckingham Palace confirming the death of the Duke, which was distributed to the Press Association and BBC first.
Then the country enters a period of national mourning, meaning a set of rules, like flags being flown at half-mast, must be followed.
According to reports, it’s thought newsreaders and other TV presenters must wear black out of respect.
Next, plans for the funeral will be drawn up, and while Prince Philip is entitled to a state funeral he reportedly wanted something more discreet – a private service in the style of a military funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, followed by burial at Frogmore Gardens.
The funeral is still expected to be televised despite the current restrictions, although it remains unclear how many people will be able to attend it.
The Queen’s private secretary and senior adviser, Sir Edward Young, will be on hand to help her during the undoubtedly challenging days ahead.
As well as being responsible for supporting the Queen in her duties, Sir Edward is also the channel of communication between the Queen and the government.
Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, has died aged 99
NEWS JUST IN
Prince Philip has died aged 99, Buckingham Palace has confirmed today.
A tweet on The Royal Family Twitter account announced the news.
The Duke of Edinburgh was born 1921, and was married to Queen Elizabeth II for more than 70 years – officially the longest-serving consort in British history.
The official announcement read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will be made in due course.
“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
There’s been no official details about the Duke’s funeral released yet, however it has been reported that he will be given a royal ceremonial funeral rather than a state funeral, in line with his wishes.