Nicola Bulley‘s concerned family have issued a fresh statement to mark the three-week date since she went missing.
The 45-year-old Lancashire mum-of-two was last seen walking her dog Willow on a riverside footpath on Friday 27 January at around 9:20am, and a huge search effort has been taking place ever since in the area around Garstang Road near the village of St. Michael’s on Wyre.
Both Nicola’s dog and her phone – which was still connected to a work conference call – were found on a bench along the river on the morning she went missing.
Nicola is described as white, 5ft 3ins tall, with light brown shoulder-length hair, and she speaks with an Essex accent.
Lancashire Police says it “remains committed to doing everything we can to find [Nicola]”.
“Our sole focus throughout the investigation has been to find Nicola, to bring her home, and to support her family through the trauma they are experiencing,” Lancashire Police insisted yesterday.
“The most important person in all of this is Nicola.”
The police’s insistence of its commitment to doing everything in their power to find Nicola comes after it was confirmed yesterday that the Constabulary had referred itself to watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, over contact officers had with Nicola prior to her disappearance.
It also comes after it was revealed earlier this week that Nicola was considered to be ‘high-risk’ at the time of her disappearance.
Police chose to state that the ‘high-risk’ classification was due to the missing woman having “significant issues with alcohol”, and the fact she was struggling with side effects of the perimenopause and menopausal symptoms.
Nicola’s family say they were “aware” ahead of time that the police were going to release such information, but after growing controversy, Home Secretary Suella Braverman has this morning demanded an “explanation” over the force’s decision to reveal details of her private life.
Now, exactly three weeks to the day of her disappearance, Nicola’s family have issued a statement to urge the public that their “focus has to be on finding her”.
Their statement reads: :It has now been three weeks since Nikki went missing.
“We, as a family, believe that the public focus has become distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours into her and Paul’s private life. As a family, we were aware beforehand that Lancashire Police, last night, released a statement with some personal details about our Nikki.
“Although we know that Nikki would not have wanted this, there are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her.
“This is appalling and needs to stop.
“The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public need to focus on finding her. Due to the perimenopause, Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and was taking HRT to help, but this was giving her intense headaches, which caused her to stop taking the HRT, thinking that may have helped her – but only ended up causing this crisis.”
“The public’s focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life,” the family’s statement continued.
“Despite what some media outlets and individuals are suggesting, we are being updated daily and receive support from our family liaison officers.”
Nicola’s family closed out their statement speaking directly to their “wonderful daughter, sister, partner, and mother” directly.
“Nikki, we hope you are reading this and know that we love you so much and your girls want a cuddle. We all need you home. You can reach out to us, or you can contact MissingPeople.org.uk. Don’t be scared, we all love you so very much.
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.