Helen Jones MP: UK has an ‘obsession with shopping’

Christmas display

Helen Jones MP suggested the UK has an ‘obsession with shopping’ at yesterday’s Parliament debate on whether they should ban retailers opening on Boxing Day.

Labour MP Helen Jones argued that Boxing Day should be a day spent with family, instead of an opportunity for staff exploitation.

Following an online petition which gathered more than 100,000 signatures urging the government to ban Boxing Day shopping, MPs had different opinions during the debate.

Torry MP Andrea Jenkyns said the country ‘should not bite the hand that feeds us’, implying that not opening on Boxing Day would be damaging to retailers.

Oklahoma, Northern Quarter 2
Credit: Yoana Nikolova

Iona Wills, Marketing manager of independent retailer Oklahoma in Northern Quarter said: “It’s quite important to us as a business that we stay closed on Boxing Day.

“In the run up to Christmas we’re very busy and all of our staff members work very hard and we want to give them the time off they deserve.”

Oklahoma has never opened on Boxing Day in the 19 years since it was established.

Iona said that giving their staff the day off to spend with their families is an important value of Oklahoma because it is ‘very sad’ to work such long hours in the lead up to Christmas and not to get enough time to rest.

She said: “The sales on Boxing Day can be really good, but to us, it’s more important that the staff get that time off, rather than making us profits.

“Every business makes their own decisions, but I definitely think that for us, being a small independent business, it’s important that we stay closed and I hope our customers can appreciate that.”

Currently, there is no law regulating trading hours on Boxing Day, unless December 26 happens to fall on a Sunday.

WATCH: Local residents react to Helen Jones’ comments on stores closing on Boxing day

The government has said it will not tell retailers ‘how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers’.

A small business owner from Manchester said the government cannot decide on behalf of businesses.

He said: “The government have too much say in what we do as it is.
“If businesses want to open on Boxing Day, they have their own reasons to do so.”

The online petition, which gathered 138,235 signatures, calls for Boxing Day to be protected by trading hours law similar to Christmas Day and Easter Day.

It claims: “Christmas is a family time. The one day is not enough time to see two sides of families. Retail workers work extremely hard during the Christmas run up and only get the one day.

“If only everywhere could be closed Boxing Day! Some things are needed over the festive period; retail isn’t one of them.”

Labour MP Ms Jones said employees were being exploited and suggested that many retailers didn’t even see a rise in sales, but opened simply because everyone else did.

She said: “I doubt very much anything would change if they did not start until the 27th.

“So many of us, like me, say Boxing Day is our day of rest. That is not available to many people in retail.”

The government’s answer to the online petition said: “We do not believe it is for central government to tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers. Therefore, we are not proposing to ban shops from opening on Boxing Day.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2014, 365,000 people in the UK retail industry worked on Boxing Day.


Karen Danczuk’s brother sentenced for rape

The defendant abused his sister at their home

Ex – Labour councillor Karen Danczuk’s brother was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, with a five-year extension for sex offences against three women at Manchester Crown Court today.

Michael Burke, 38, was found guilty on eight counts of rape, one count of serious sexual offence against three women, and three counts of rape against his sister at the three–week trial last month.

Ms Danczuk, the ex-wife of Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, waived her anonymity to publicise the case, so her ‘monster’ brother does not pose as a threat to women anymore.

He repeatedly assaulted her and raped her when she was between 9 and 11.

The court heard he would force himself on her while she was drifting away in her sleep in her own bed.

LISTEN to what Karen Danczuk said in her emotional interview for ITV’s Loose Women:

The other two victims have automatic lifelong anonymity, and they cannot be identified.

The Honourable Mr Justice Gilbart said Mr Burke knowingly exploited his victims’ vulnerability, and caused them significant psychological harm, which continued long after the offence.

He said: “He [the defendant]  regards those in close relation to him as objects to use as he pleases.”

The judge said Mr Burke showed no remorse, and lacked insight in alleging that Ms Danczuk conspired with the other two victims against him.

Mr Justice Gilbart said: “He is very good at blaming others, but fails to accept responsibility for his actions.”

There were three aggravating and one mitigating factors the judge took into consideration.

Burke’s main defence was that he was young at the time of the offences, and if he were sentenced back in the 90s, his sentence would have been one for a minor – half to three-quarters less than an adult.

The defence lawyer, Mr Walker, tried to plead other mitigating features with the judge – that Mr Burke used to take part in a political party, and was active in the community, and the fact that there was someone very ill in his family, who he was very concerned about.

While the judge said he would take this into consideration, he summarised that this does not necessarily make him of good character.

Prosecutor Mr Wright QC said the defendant “raped his victims because he felt he could”.

After consideration, the judge came to a decision that there is a high risk of Mr Burke posing as a threat to women close to him again and therefore eligible for an extended sentence.

Mr Burke will serve 3 concurrent sentences adding up to 15 years and a 5–year extension.

Ms Danczuk was not in the courtroom today.

Police recorded crime figures showed an increase of 41% in all sexual offences for the year ending June 2015 compared with the previous year, according to the Office for National Statistics:

Trends in police recorded sexual offences in England and Wales, year ending March 2003 to year ending June 2015: c35ad1ab

‘Sock Drop’ aims to keep local homeless warm

The ‘Sock Drop’ campaign is initiated by Salford Univerdity’s Students’ Union

Students in Salford are being asked to donate a pair of socks this Christmas in order to help those living on the streets stay warmer.

The Sock Drop is a new and simple initiative started by The University of Salford’s Students’ Union.

The campaign encourages students, staff and others from the Salford area to drop a pair of brand new socks off in designated boxes around the campus.

The collection remains open until Friday December 23 and all donations will be handed over to a homelessness charity in Manchester, which will then distribute the socks to those in need.

Ceewhy Ochoga, President of the Student’s Union, explained that the main idea behind the campaign is to spead warmth and love this festive season.

sock drop
Ceewhy Ochoga, President
Credit: Hollie Rees

She said: “We know that the homeless people probably don’t have a place to stay and are in the cold, so we just thought ‘what can we do to make their lives a little bit warmer this Christmas?’

“An extra layer of socks will always help to keep them warm.”

There are a number of collection points – at the Students’ Union, Atmosphere Kitchen and Bar and in each student accommodation building.

sock drop
Donated socks for the homeless Credit: Hollie Rees

The turnaround has been good so far, but Ceewhy hopes that more people will open their hearts and give something simple which would be of great help to those in need.

Lisa, who has been on the streets of Manchester for the last six months, said: “A pair of warm socks helps, but not a lot.

“Socks are going to keep your feet warm, but what about a warm property where we could actually stay?”

Lisa explained that she is grateful for small donations like these, but is slightly frustrated that such campaigns only take place around Christmas time.

She said: “What about the other 364 days? Christmas is not the only time we need help and support.”

One in every 266 people in the Greater Manchester area is homeless, according to statistics by the Shelter charity.

The number of rough sleepers in England rises every year. Street counts and estimates carried out by the government give a rough idea of how many people live on the streets across the country.

In 2015 they estimated approximately 3,569 people sleep rough on any given night across England – a rise of 30% on the previous year and double the amount since 2010. The actual figures are likely to be much higher.

rough sleepers in England
Statistics provided by http://www.crisis.org.uk

Manchester and Salford residents are encouraged to give what they can to those in need this Christmas.

Burst water main leaves Stockport schools and homes with no water


650 pupils from Cheadle Hulme School have been sent home and a number of other schools have been reported closed because of a water supply cut following a burst main in Stockport.

The leak, affecting homes and businesses around the junction of Chester Road, Dean lane and Jackson’s Lane in hazel Grove was reported to United Utilities around 1am on Tuesday.

Engineers were at the scene by 5.50am to begin repairs and works as well as investigation are still ongoing due to the ‘complex nature of the repair’.

A spokesman for United Utilities confirmed the leak was affecting the supply of water for residents living in the SK7, SK8, SK10 and SK12 postcodes.

“We’re sorry for the trouble this may be causing you and we will get your taps flowing normally again as quickly as we can,” said a statement on their website.

The works caused widespread delays to traffic during the rush hour.

Road closure after street collapses into huge sinkhole


A massive sinkhole caused Heywood Road in the Heaton Park area to be closed early this morning.

Sinkhole on Heywood Road
Sinkhole on Heywood Road

The six – metre wide and two – feet deep hole has been cordoned off while United Utilities are still investigating what caused it.

A representative at the scene, just off Bury Old Road, said: “We are not entirely sure what caused the road to collapse – we are still investigating whether it’s linked to a sewer.

“The road is likely to be closed for drivers and pedestrians in both directions for about two weeks.”

The sinkhole was reported by GMP in the early hours and more than 20 residents in the area are reported to be affected. Locals have been asked to removed their vehicles off the road.

A local lady said this will definitely disturb her morning commute to work. She said: “I pick up disabled kids from school with a minivan and this afternoon we’re probably going to have to avoid the area.

“We usually come down Bury Old Road, but today we’ll have to use the new road. The traffic will divert anyway, so whichever way we go, we’ll be stuck there for a while and it will cause a big disruption for people in the area”, she added.

Engineers arrived at the scene earlier this morning with a pump and a crane, after cordoning off the sinkhole for the next couple of weeks.

Road closed

GMP Whitefield tweeted to warn drivers: “Road Closure – Give Heywood Rd Prestwich by Gilmore Dr a miss for the next week or so. Big sinkhole one of our Night Sgts is looking into”.

This is the third sinkhole to appear in the Greater Manchester area and cause roads to be closed this year, after collapses in the Northern Quarter in April and on the Mancunian way in July.

Don’t get trapped in the web, GMP campaign warns


9972 cybercrimes have been recorded by Greater Manchester Police between April 2014 and May 2016, with the biggest increases witnessed in blackmail, harassment and child sexual activity.

To warn the public of cybercrime and prevent people of becoming victims, GMP is launching a new campaign, #trappedintheweb, which highlights the potential dangers we come across every day, but not pay attention to, on the Internet.

Detective Chief Inspector Danny Inglis said: “This campaign looks at what people can do to stay safe online and asks them to pause and think before sharing any personal data online – the vast majority of people and businesses online are trustworthy but being wary when using online services helps people stay even safer.

“A really simple rule to follow is that if you wouldn’t do it in real life, then don’t do it online”, he added.cyber-security-1721673_1280.jpg

Cybercrime is recognised as one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK with numerous ways to “trap people in the web” – from identity theft, to sextortion, to fraud and human trafficking, to ransomware.

When Zornitsa Doncheva, 22, from Salford, first saw the ransomnote pop on her screen, she thought a friend was joking around.

“It was when I tried to get rid of the message, that I saw that all the files on my desktop had been encrypted and I had no access to any of them. Not a photo, not an audio file, not even the essay I was due to submit by the end of the week!”, Miss Doncheva said.

Not only isn’t your PC fully protected, but hackers can also infect your phone, tablet and almost any other device, simply by sending you an email attachment that seems harmless at first, until you are being blackmailed for money to get access to your own data.

Miss Doncheva said: “Eventually, I ended up buying a new lap top as I couldn’t use mine any more, but I am glad that at least the money didn’t go to those criminals, as that would only have encouraged them to continue blackmailing people.

“Ever since, I always make sure to update my antivirus program regularly and always back up my data on a separate device”, she added.

Mr Ali Dehghantanha, a senior lecturer in Cyber Security at the University of Salford, said: “There is nothing called a strong enough protection! In reality, a software that cannot be hacked still doesn’t exist and no Internet user is ever completely safe online.

“Attackers need only one loophole to get in while users should defend all venues.”

As part of the campaign, posters, ads and social media posts will circulate the messages of warning across Greater Manchester, highlighting the various dangers and threats Internet users face. GMP aims to inform people and prevent them from becoming victims of cybercrime.

Disturbing footage shows inmate smuggle drugs through his body on fellow inmate’s face in Forest Bank

pexels-photoAn investigation has been launched after disturbing video of prison drug – smuggling emerged yesterday, Monday 24 October.

Shocking images of a naked inmate from the Forest Bank prison in Salford, shot by another inmate on an illegally – imported mobile phone, show how prisoners smuggle drugs and other illegal objects into the prison system.

The distressing video has allegedly been shared by inmates on WhatsApp, showing how a naked, masked man pretends to be a bird which is laying “golden eggs” – reported to be small packages of drugs – onto the masked face of another naked prisoner.

The drug is thought to be the infamous “Spice”, also known as “Black Mamba”, which has become increasingly popular in prisons around the country.

“Spice” is one of many man-made mind-altering chemicals that are either smoked or are vaporised and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices.

Drug known as
Drug known as “Spice” or “Black Mamba”

These chemicals are known as cannabinoids because of their relation to the marijuana plant.

What makes “Spice” different from marijuana though, is the unpredictable and dangerous side effects, which include altered perception, delusional or disordered thinking, extreme anxiety,  confusion, paranoia and hallucinations.

An HMP Forest Bank spokesperson said: “Prisons are a challenging environment to manage, but our staff work very hard to successfully stop many illicit items getting into HMP Forest Bank. We will investigate any breach of protocol and take appropriate action.”

This, however, is one of many footages showing an inmate using a mobile phone inside a prison, transmitting sounds and images and using drugs, which are all illegal in prisons in the UK.

Previous videos have shown self – harm, bullying, humiliation – one of the latest clips shows two naked prisoners on all fours barking like dogs while their “owners”, two other inmates, control them with leads, the M.E.N. reported.

One of the “animals” is introduced as “an Islamic Turkey lurcher pitt bull” while the other is an “Iranian sausage dog”.

Despite speculation that the latest and other clips have been filmed in the Islamic prayer room of the HMP Forest Bank, this is thought not to be true.

Alistair Drummond, a spokesperson for Sodexo, which owns and runs HMP Forest Bank, said: “Drug and phone smuggling are serious problems in every single prison in the UK, not only in Forest Bank.”

Steve Gillan, General Secretary for the Prison Officers’ Association (POA), said: “Spice is being smuggled in prisons all the time and nothing is being done by the government to reduce the amount of drugs coming in.

“What the government should be doing is increasing staffing levels to make sure it’s more difficult to get illegal substances into the system.

“The harsh facts are there isn’t enough staff to deal with the day – to – day life in prisons and inmates realise that, the POA realises that, the general public is now well aware, but still, nothing is being done, and it seems like prisoners are taking control over security staff.

“We’ve seen an increase in self – harm and other incidents all around the system and it’s inevitable that prisons are going to be more dangerous, whether it is though drugs or violence.

“And government officials still bury their heads in the sand”, Mr Gillan said.

The investigation is still ongoing.

The latest clip is too graphic to be published on our site, if you would still like to watch it, click here.