Staff at Affleck’s Animaid cafe have hit out in its defense after a Greater Manchester councillor branded the business ‘disgusting’.
Urmston councillor Joanne Harding has caused something of an uproar after tweeting that the Japanese-themed Animad cafe made her ‘fresh crawl [sic]’
Asking “What fresh hell is this in Manchester?”, her tweet continued: “A ‘maid cafe’ – No touching or asking to touch the maids. We have a gender based violence strategy and ask ‘is this ok?’ – this makes my fresh [sic] crawl.”
After one person replied by describing the cafe as ‘Hooters for incels’, she responded by calling the business ‘disgusting’ before adding: ‘If you’ve got to have a sign up saying don’t touch the maids, there might be an issue. Women dressing in skimpy clothes, acting subserviently – what’s not to love.’
The councillor has now set her Twitter profile to private, but her bio describes her as having ‘ovaries of steel’.
She has represented Urmston on Trafford Council for more than twelve years and has previously spoken out against the harrassment of women in public life, most recently after receiving a sexually explicit card at her town hall office.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Mrs Harding took the time to understand the bubble tea and cartoon-themed cafe’s concept before going online to denounce the young women who work there.
Vick Littley, a manager at the Animaid cafe, told the Manchester Evening News: “It was out of the blue and just felt derogatory. Most of the staff are young women – the post has been done with no grasp of what we actually are.
“We are a themed café where people can play board games, watch anime, sit and talk, study. We are not like how they are trying to portray us, we’re a bubble tea anime-themed café.”
On a visit to the popular Japanese-inspired cafe, The Manc spoke with a couple of the maids on the misconceptions that customers sometimes bring in with them.
They were keen to stress that, whilst the cafe does draw its inspiration from Japan’s maid cafe culture, in no way are the staff wanting to be fetishised themselves.
Whilst in Japanese maid cafes customers commonly call the maid’s “Princess” and vice versa are called “master”, they explain that in their cafe at Affleck’s the focus is all on having fun – not on sexualising the intimacy between customer and maid.
“In their cafes, […] master and princess is like kind of like fetishist names […] we don’t want any aspect of fetishising anything, we don’t want any Asian fishing or anything like that because it’s just disgusting.”
“We just want to have fun and dress like maids and sell Japanese merch without hurting anyone.”
First opened in 2019, the cafe is the only one of its kind in the UK and has had various different iterations over the years – first starting life off as a shop downstairs before moving onto the second floor.
Inside you’ll find rare anime dolls, imported Japanese snacks, milkshakes named after famous characters and stacks of comics which you can read for free.
Based inside its current unit for three years now, over time owners have expanded the space to add on a proper Japanese-style sakura cafe behind the shop – complete with upside-down umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and its very own sakura tree.
Designed for like-minded people with a shared interest in anime, the cafe has been set up to be suitable for all ages where fans can socialise and initiate new friendships.
All of its maids are anime fanatics and experts too, and with their help owner Rio has created a safe space for anime fans where guests can watch anime, play video games, and transport themselves to cosplaying heaven.
Feature image – The Manc Group
Qatar and Sir Jim Ratcliffe set to submit ‘world record’ offers to buy Manchester United as other bidders are expected to join the race
The deadline for the second round of bidders in the race to takeover Manchester United football club has officially passed, with multiple world record offers reportedly on the verge of being submitted.
Following the first round of bids, which saw a Qatar investment group headed up by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe both put in their initial offers, Manchester United set a second deadline of 9pm on 22 March for them to increase their offers and welcome other offers.
While the opening bids matched each other at £4.5 billion, working with financial advisors Raine Group who are brokering in the deal from the US, neither reached the Glazer family ownership’s estimations, who value the club closer to £6bn.
As a result, both went on to carry out further negotiations — each visiting Old Trafford last Friday and staying for upwards of six hours (more than 10 in the case of the Qataris) — but it is now thought they may no longer be the only parties involved in the bidding war. Whether it will be in time is the issue.
Despite earlier reports that Sheikh Jassim and his associates had submitted a “world record offer” before the Glazers and Raine Group’s 9pm deadline (5pm New York time), Sky Sports‘ Kaveh Solhekol has now clarified that the bid was not submitted in time and that they have asked for an extension.
Man United are said to have agreed to the extension and Sheikh Jassim still remains confident that they have the “best bid” of the bunch.
Moreover, as per the likes of Mike Keegan, Jim Ratcliffe was also set to enter his second bid, with both offers said to have increased to around the £5bn mark. However, the INEOS chief exec is also said to have failed to meet the deadline and been granted an extension, according to a senior source.
Kaveh also went on to detail that multiple other offers have in fact been submitted, with the numbers said to be “approaching eight” different bidders.
Any bid of more than £3.75bn would break the world record fee for a sports club set when the Denver Broncos were sold last summer.
As for the frontrunners, both offers are still around a billion short of the Glazer’s asking price and not only have Sheikh Jassim and co. already warned they will ‘walk away’ if the price is too high, but it’s unclear how far Ratcliffe’s wealth can stretch if he is to continue pursuing a deal.
The key difference between the two bids is that Qatar’s bid will apparently make the club debt-free given the sheer mass of state wealth behind them, whereas the Failsworth-born businessman’s financing may be more complex to put together.
Trying to clear up the confusion, The Times‘ Matt Lawton said on Twitter that “both Qatari and INEOS representatives said their bids were in, United sources [are] saying they haven’t yet bid and have asked for an extension”, with offers now set to be made by tomorrow.
As reported by Sky Sports earlier this week, it was thought that “at least five other bidders” and as many as eight in question could join the race along with Ratcliffe and Qatar, who were the only two parties to have submitted an official offer for United during the first round of bidding.
However, a detailed list of the other candidates and precisely how many are still yet to be confirmed; Kaveh did go on to suggest that some could simply be a form of “hot air” designed to hopefully urge the ‘serious bidders’ to edge their offers up even higher.
As for next steps, neither of the parties in the supposed two-horse race expect an immediate decision from the board, especially after the unexpected delay, and those who submitted new offers in the second round of bidding will have to wait at least seven days to hear back from the club and brokers Raine Group regarding their progress.
However, it is worth noting that these subsequent bids may not necessarily be attempts to buy the club outright and not only is there a feeling that a third round of negotiations could take place, but there is also a growing sense that the Glazers could still pull out of a potential buyout altogether.
Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone cameras are now being used for ‘detecting crime’
Cameras installed for Greater Manchester’s now-discarded Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme are apparently being used for “detecting crime”.
A total of 407 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras were installed across the region back in February 2022 ready for the start of the controversial £60 million scheme that never happened – but now, councillors in Bolton have revealed that the technology isn’t going to waste, and is actually being for an entirely different reason all together.
After Horwich councillor David Grant “raised concerns” about the cost of running the cameras at recent Bolton Council meeting, leader Martyn Cox revealed that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been closely controlling them and using them “to good effect in detecting crime”, according to BBC Manchester.
“Now that the Mayor of Greater Manchester has graciously confirmed that the area of Bolton will most like not be subject to any clean air zone can the leader confirm that he intends to demand that the presumably now defunct cameras be removed?,” Mr Grant asked at the meeting.
He continued: “Secondly, bearing in mind these cameras are live and drawing electricity from our street furniture, will he be requesting a payment for electricity estimated Greater Manchester wide at £375,000 a month?”
Council leader David Cox then explained to Mr Grant that information from the cameras released in line with data protection legislation has been used to support at least two murder investigations, one high risk missing person case, one county lines drug supply case, two separate fatal road traffic collisions, and an aggravated burglary.
“However, it is acknowledged that there are concerns around the use of number plate recognition cameras and allowing direct access to the cameras to organisations such as Greater Manchester Police when these are no longer required for a charging clean air zone,” Mr Cox continued.
“There is a commitment to undertake public consultation on the future use of cameras once we have a decision from central government on the investment led clean air plan.”
The Clean Air Zone was to initially hand motorists daily charges of up to £60 for some of the most polluting vehicles on Greater Manchester‘s roads.
The government agreed to delay the deadline for the scheme until 2026, but local leaders wanted to scrap all charges and help to fund vehicle upgrades instead.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) then set out evidence supporting an investment-led, and, crucially for residents and motorists, a non-charging Clean Air Plan back in June 2022 – which it said was “the best solution” to address the roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) problem.