Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is set to make a radical move to smash a “national magnet for criminality” by bulldozing parts of the infamous ‘counterfeit street’.
After decades of repeat raids to seize tonnes of counterfeit clothing and goods worth tens of millions of pounds, the police force has confirmed that buildings on Bury New Road in the Strangeways area of Manchester are to be closed, compulsory purchased, and then flattened – for good.
It’s all part of a new operation known as ‘Operation Vulcan’.
Operation Vulcan is setting out to shut down shops selling fake clothing, perfume, tobacco, and toys that are believed to be a front for serious crime, and comes after GMP has already stablished that 33 organised crime gangs from across the UK have links to the Cheetham Hill area.
The area is also known to have links to illegal immigration, modern-day slavery, human trafficking and women being forced to work as sex workers.
Police say the gangs also have links to mass money laundering, firearms, drugs, and more.
But now, the area’s reputation is set for a facelift as GMP is to work with Manchester City Council and other organisations to deliver “a permanent solution”.
“This comes directly from our Chief Constable. He has described Cheetham Hill as a place that is criminally hostile and he is not prepared to have that in his force area,” Detective Superintendent Neil Blackwood, who is heading Operation Vulcan, told the Manchester Evening News.
“Counterfeiting has been around for a very long time but the criminality has shifted into prescription drugs [and] people being exploited sexually and for their labour, and illegal immigration – a microcosm of criminality.”
When asked if Operation Vulcan would eventually see the demolition of the buildings used for counterfeit sales and other crimes in the area, DS Blackwood confirmed this in the works.
“We are probably in the position of clear, hold, build. Clear it, and hold, so no one comes back, and then its Manchester City Council’s gift to give in terms of rebuilding. Most of those buildings will end up at the end of a bulldozer. Most unrecoverable, because they have been chopped and changed around.
“There has been a lack of consistency – we are there one day not the next, and that is where our chief has recognised that is a problem, so we will be there everyday.
“I have more patience than them.”
DS Blackwood said the aim of Operation Vulcan is not only to shut down counterfeit street, but also to pursue multiple prosecutions for other major offences.
“It needs to feel safe, it needs to be for the law-abiding community,” DS Blackwood said.
“We will do whatever it takes – arresting people for drug dealing, if they have premises – which a lot of them do – we will take it off them, and we will close it.”
Featured Image – GMP
Popular London bakery Gail’s to open string of North West cafes next year
Popular craft bakery Gail’s has hinted at plans to open a string of new cafes in the North West next year.
The group, which already has a large number of bakery-cafes in the south of England, has announced it will open its first North West site in Wilmslow in early 2023.
Bosses have also said that ‘further locations in the North West’ will be announced in the new year, adding that all the new bakeries will serve GAIL’s artisan sourdough breads, pastries, sandwiches, and cakes alongside its specialty House Blend coffee.
The news also seems to potentially confirm speculation that the brand is planning a move into Manchester after The Manc shared news of potential plans for a Gail”s opening in the city centre in October.
Having already seen planning documents that suggest the chain is planning to take over the former White Stuff unit on King Street, it now appears that more news on that opening will be coming in 2023 – although it’s hard to say if it will be the first Manchester site to be announced.
The bakery group already has strong ties with Manchester, having run its sister wholesale bakery The Bread Factory in Openshaw since 2017.
Formed in the early 1990s by namesake Gail Mejia, Gail’s began when its eponymous founder decided to bring together the best bakers in London to create bakes for the capitals top chefs and restaurants.
Today, is known more as a customer-facing cafe and bakery whilst The Bread Factory continues the original wholesale legacy – supplying high quality, artisan breads to some of the region’s top local restaurants.
Gail’s first cafe opened on Hampstead High Street in 2005, and now the brand has 79 in neighbourhoods in and around London, Oxford, Brighton and more.
Turning back the clock on industrialised baking practices and moving to bake bread as it used to be baked: by hand, using quality ingredients and time-worn artisanal methods, Gail’s soon established a name for itself and has come a long way since those early days.
Still, the stuff that matters – the ethos, the suppliers, the skill and a handful of tried-and-tested sourdough starter cultures – hasn’t changed.
A champion for sustainability, the bakery also prides itself on minimising food waste by carefully setting aside any leftover food and donating it to a selection of local charities in each eatery’s neighbourhood
On Twitter, someone said: “I wouldn’t mind knowing where he is either he’s [flame emoji].”
In all serious though, Humberside Police said of Robert Rimmer: “If you see him, or know where he is, please do not approach him but instead call us immediately on our non-emergency 101 line quoting investigation reference 20900368291.
“If you would prefer to report information anonymously you can do so via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”