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Councillor issues warning to pranksters who put washing up liquid in Exchange Square fountain

While filling fountains with washing up liquid is a classic prank, it can cost a lot of money to clean up…

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Keith Andrew / Twitter & Nichola Stephens / Facebook

A local councillor has issued a grave warning to those responsible for putting washing up liquid in the Exchange Square fountain, a prank that left the area overflowing with suds and bubbles. 

Last night, photos and videos were posted onto social media that showed the city centre fountain exploding with bubbles and leaving the area sodden with soapy footprints. 

Keith Andrew, who was the first to share photos of the timeless prank, wrote: “Oh Manchester, never change. Somebody put washing up liquid in the Exchange Square fountain again.”

However, while many were able to see the bubbles as a bit of harmless fun – and a great opportunity to finally give the fountain and it’s surrounding footpath a good clean – others weren’t too impressed and slammed the prank as childish vandalism. 

One social media user wrote: “A stupid, childish thing to do. Animals and birds use that… Grow up.” Similarly, another noted: “This is exactly why the council give up and just put concrete over everything. Don’t blame ’em.”

And joining them, a local councillor has since spoken out to condemn those responsible for the prank, and has vowed to use nearby CCTV to identify them and make them face the consequences of their actions.

Councillor Pat Karney told the Manchester Evening News: “What we will do is check our CCTV, we have three cameras in that square and so we’ll check them. This is vandalism.

Nicola Stephens / Facebook

“It’s not even funny. It’s just letting Manchester down. The fountain is a nice attraction. We’ll look at the CCTV today and catch anyone, we’ll get them in court and we will shame them about this activity.”

He then added: “We will prosecute, we’re not messing about.

“The warning is, if you vandalise the fountains and spoil the enjoyment or everybody else in Manchester, particularly in the nice weather, we will hopefully get you up in front of the courts.”

While it initially seems like harmless fun, the act of soaping up a fountain can result in expensive cleanup and have a lasting impact on the fountain. Council money and budget is typically used to drain and clean fountains after they’ve fallen victim to the prank.

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North West residents urged to cut back on water as reservoirs run low

United Utilities has suggested a number of ways in which residents can cut back on their water usage

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Andres Siimon / Unsplash & Pixabay

United Utilities has issued a water usage warning for North West residents as reservoir levels plummet. 

While reporting that the region’s supply of tap water is ‘less than half what it should be’ at this time of the year, the water supplier has offered an array of suggestions as to how residents can lower their water usage.

In an email to customers, United Utilities said: “To keep precious water in the reservoirs until they have a chance to recover and help protect local wildlife, save water and only use what you need.

Jorge Franganillo / Flickr

“We can do this with very little impact on our usual routine and every drop is precious, so swap a bath for a four minute shower, use the washing machine once less each week and re-use water where you can.”

The water supply across the North West comes from Haweswater and Thirlmere reservoirs in the Lake District, which are both only 36% full – usual levels in September would be around 70%, according to ITV News.

The shortage comes as a result of an unusually dry summer; although there were plenty of wetter days in North West cities and towns and even flooding in some areas, it has been the driest June to September in over 130 years in the Lake District.

Harry Grout / Unsplash

There has also been extra demand on water being used as a result of more people staying at home and taking holidays in the north west during the pandemic.

Over on their website, the supplier also suggests a number of methods to lower water usage, such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, using a washing up bowl when washing the dishes, and refraining from overfilling the kettle by only boiling what you need.

For those with a garden, United Utilities also suggests investing in a butt, a device which collects rainwater to be used in the house, and to fully ditch the hosepipe while watering plants and washing cars, noting that using a watering can for your plants and a bucket and sponge for your car will not only save water, but will do wonders for the environment.

See their full list of tips here. 

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More than 10,000 foreign workers to be handed UK visas amid HGV driver shortages

The workers will be given the right to work in the UK up until Christmas Eve

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John Carver / Geograph & John Cameron / Unsplash

Over 10,000 foreign workers will be given temporary UK visas in the government’s bid to tackle the ongoing supply issues experienced across the country.

The temporary scheme will be offered to around 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers, who will be granted employment in the UK until Christmas Eve.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed that the visas will be made available from next month and will ‘ensure preparations remain on track’ for the festive season.

Oast House Archive / Wikimedia Commons

He said: “This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the UK, and this Government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV driver shortage.

“We are acting now but the industries must also play their part, with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.

“After a very difficult eighteen months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.”

As a result of the worker shortage, supermarkets across the country and major restaurant chains such as Nando’s, KFC and McDonald’s have been experiencing major supply issues.

 Various retailers have also been warning that a solution must be found within days to avoid ‘significant disruption’ in the run-up to Christmas.

The exact cause of the labour shortages remain unclear, though it is believed to be a result of both the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the cost of training and pay. 

According to Sky News, the RHA claims around 20,000 European drivers have left the UK for ‘Brexit reasons’. They added that the pandemic saw many foreign HGV drivers return to their home countries, with the ‘vast majority’ not returning. There has also been a large backlog in HGV driver tests due to the pandemic, meaning tens of thousands of potential new drivers have been unable to join the industry.

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Marcus Rashford urges Boris Johnson not to axe £20 universal credit lifeline

The footballer has stressed the impact the £20 cut will have on millions of families across the country

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Кирилл Венедиктов / Wikimedia Commons

Marcus Rashford has urged the government to abandon its plan to cut the £20 universal credit uplift and instead tackle the ongoing ‘child hunger pandemic’.

The Manchester United and England footballer, who last year lead the fight to a historic government U-turn for free school meals for children across the UK, has stressed that millions of people will ‘lose a lifeline’ when the extra money is scrapped next month.

He said, as per The Guardian: “Instead of removing vital support, we should be focusing on developing a long-term roadmap out of this child hunger pandemic.

“On October 6th, millions lose a lifeline. It’s a move that Child Poverty Action Group says will raise child poverty to one in three.”

The twenty-three year old footballer has also urged the government provide long-term funding for food and activities during school holidays and expand the Healthy Start voucher scheme to households earning £20,000 or less after benefits.

Executive director of the Food Foundation Anna Taylor, who is working alongside Rashford, said food insecurity was ‘surging and is set to get a lot worse’.

She said: “It takes its toll not just on the wellbeing of children, but also on wider society. Getting ahead of this crisis is the litmus test of the government’s ambition to level up.

“Stopping the cut to universal credit and extending free school meals to poor children who currently miss out would provide a minimum protection for at-risk children. It is baffling that currently the government is planning neither. That’s why it is so important that everyone gets their voices heard and asks their MP to support this in the forthcoming spending review.”

The £20 universal credit rise, which was introduced during the pandemic last year and impacted over 5.8 million universal credit claimers, is set to be axed next week on October 6th. 

The government’s argument is that as the economy opens back up, the focus needs to shift to getting people back to work.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told BBC Breakfast that the government had spent a ‘huge’ amount of money during the pandemic to provide ‘massive support’ to the economy and workers, but that ‘there was a debate about how long we could afford this’.

He said he was speaking ‘a great deal about it’ to the chancellor and other ministers as part of his focus on tackling fuel poverty.

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