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Trafford Centre might be forced to close as owners Intu ‘prepare administration plan’

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Alex Watson

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TOOEDDD / Wikimedia

Intu, the owner of the Trafford Centre, has warned that the shopping centre may be forced to shut. 

Intu has appointed KPMG to prepare a contingency plan for administration and has warned shoppers the famous Trafford Centre might be forced to close, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Intu Properties is currently struggling with £5bn debt and remains locked in crunch talks with lenders after being hard hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

The group also owns Lakeside shopping centre in Essex, and confirmed today they have KPMG on standby as administrator. It is currently negotiating details with lenders as it looks to secure breathing space ahead of a looming deadline on Friday.

Jonathan Hutchins

Intu is hoping to arrange a ‘standstill agreement’ on terms of up to 18 months but said it’s likely this will only be 15 months.

Its lenders have explain that ‘there is a risk that centres may have to close for a period’ if they cannot reach an agreement. 

Intu Properties is trying to negotiate a freeze on loan repayments, however increasing demands from landlords is reportedly making this unlikely.

The company put agreements with creditors on hold to ride out the coronavirus pandemic at the start of June, wavering debts until June 26th, however, according to reports it expects to breach debt commitments by this deadline amid falling falling rental payments. 

Mike Peel

The company announced in May ‘robust action’ against large tenant businesses who haven’t paid their rent during the coronavirus lockdown.

For the first quarter of the year, the company only received 40% of rent and services charges which were due by the end of March 2020.

The firm, which lost £2bn in 2019, warned in March it could collapse if it cannot find further funds.

A statement by Intu on May 18th said that: “in particular looking to achieve stability through standstill-based agreements with relevant financial stakeholders across its structures, at both the asset and group level.”

Seth Whales

The standstill strategy statement says: “At this stage it is not expected that the duration will exceed 15 months.

“How the operations of individual centres are to be funded. Some centres haver educed rent collections as a result of Covid-19 and cash trapped under their financing arrangements which restrict their ability to pay for support (such as shopping centre staff) from other entities in the Intu group.

“Securing additional funding in centres funded by bond structures is more difficult to achieve and, in this connection, consent will be sought shortly from the stockholders of Intu Debenture PLC to authorise the trustee to release certain monies within the existing debt structure to be used for short term liquidity needs.

“Other centres may also require cash injections for these purposes. This all remains subject to further negotiations, with no certainty as to whether Intu will achieve a standstill, or on what terms or for what duration.

“Further announcements will be made as appropriate. Notwithstanding the progress made with lenders, Intu has also appointed KPMG to contingency plan for administration. In the event that Intu Properties plc is unable to reach a standstill, it is likely it and certain other central entities will fall into administration.

“In this situation, all property companies would be required to pre-fund the administrator to provide central services to the shopping centres. If the administrator is not pre-funded then there is a risk that centres may have to close for a period.”

Eirian Evans / Geograph

Intu Properties own nine of the country’s top 20 shopping centres and has been struggling with the shrinking high street retail market for some time. 

Intu is laden with debts estimated to be around £5bn. The value of the shopping centres have fallen by £1.9bn due to the down turn of the market. 

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Almost 900,000 people sign petition to stop taxpayers from paying for MPs’ meals

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Alex Watson

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Number 10/Flickr & HouseofCommons/Twitter

Almost 900,000 people have signed a petition calling for MPs’ meals to stop being subsidised by the taxpayer.

After the Government voted against providing free school meals to kids over the holidays, almost 900,000 people have signed a petition calling for MPs meals to stop being subsidised by the taxpayer.

Last Wednesday MPs voted against a motion set out by the Labour Party to offer free school meals during the holidays until Easter 2021 to help those affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. The end result was 322 to 261.

Amongst much anger over the result, figures have resurfaced showing that UK taxpayers fork out as much as £57,000 every week in order to subsidise food and drink for Westminster politicians. Almost 3 million pounds a year.

In the petition, launched by 38 Degrees by Portia Lawrie, it is demanded that the government stops taking public money for MPs meals. Adding that ‘all food and drink in parliamentary establishments be chargeable to MPs at market rates’.

With the petition already been signed more than 800,000 times (at the time of writing), the petition is way over its goal of 300,000 signatures.

The petition reads: “MPs have voted against extending free school meals into the holidays for the poorest children in the UK, in the middle of a pandemic.”

“They should under no circumstances benefit from free or subsidised meals out of public funds themselves. If the public purse cannot afford to feed the poorest in our society, why are we feeding those least in need?”

“Already well-paid public servants, set to receive yet another generous pay increase, whilst millions face hardship, job losses and poverty, do not need the public to pay for their food and drink.”

Signed off with: “Public funds should be spent on those most in need of them.”

The amount of attention the campaign has gained is no surprise, seeing as MPS were just given a pay rise of £3000, despite the horrific debt and financial crisis the rest of the country is in.

Throughout this time Manchester United hero Marcus Rashford has been fighting for free school meals for months. Showing his support in many ways which include volunteering at the Greater Manchester depot of FareShare – a charity responsible for distributing surplus supermarket food to those who need it most.

Rashford urges MPs to put aside all the noise, the digs, the party politics and focus on the reality, adding: “a significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter!”

Sign the petition

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Government considering new plans for ‘Tier 4’ local restrictions, according to reports

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Proper Manchester

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David Dixon/Geograph & BBCNews/Twitter

Discussions are underway for a new ‘Tier 4’ local lockdown system, according to reports.

Tier 4 lockdown could be on the cards if the current system has not had any effect by mid-November.

According to iNews, the Government are considering a potential plan B, which could include ‘Tier 3 plus or ‘Tier 4’.

It comes, despite Boris Johnson explaining that a full lockdown ‘from John O’Groats to Land’s End’ was not an option, as concerns rise that tier r restrictions will not bring the R rate down before Christmas. 

Although it has not been officially announced, the plans will include further restrictions such as closing restaurants and non-essential retail such as clothes shops.

Similar to Wales and Northern Ireland, a short-term local circuit breaker is also said to be under discussion.

iNews has also reported that in order to bring the R number down to below 1 from its current nationwide level of 1.6 leaders in Tier 3 regions need to cut social contact by 60%.

The proposed ‘Tier 4’ could not be a nationwide shutdown but would involve short-term deep measures including toughened rules for travelling in and outside of areas. 

Greater Manchester has been in Tier 3 for only 4 days now, after a week of back and forth between the government and local leaders, should we start preparing for Tier 4?

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Marcus Rashford receives Special Recognition at Pride of Britain Awards

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Alex Watson

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PrideOfBritain/Twitter

Marcus Rashford wins ‘Special recognition’ at Pride of Britain Awards. 

At just 22, Marcus Rashford has had a really busy year. As part of his ongoing campaign to end food poverty in the UK, Rashford has found himself on the cover of Vogue and even receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester.

Not to mention his MBE from the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2020. 

But now, he has been listed as the trophy recipient of the Pride of Britain Awards: with Special Recognition.

He’s being given the award due to his continued efforts to end child poverty in the UK. 

His campaigning throughout the pandemic saw a u-turn decision from the government and the extension of free school meals throughout the summer holidays.

Last week, his campaign to expand free school meals into Easter 2021, to help those families hard hit by the pandemic, was voted down in the House of Commons last week by MPs.

The Pride of Britain Awards will be shown this weekend on November 1st. 

Captain Tom Moore will also be celebrated at the ceremony for his efforts in raising £27 million for the NHS.

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