Around a dozen University of Manchester students occupied a university building in Fallowfield as part of ongoing rent strike protests yesterday.
Students representing UoM Rent Strike, Students Before Profit and 9K4WHAT have taken up residence in the currently empty Owens Tower on Wilmslow Road, in a stand against university management.
Yesterday evening, the students occupying the tower had their WIFI cut off by the university and were temporarily deprived of receiving food and other essential items.
However, after involvement from local MP Afzal Khan, the internet was restored in the early hours of the morning.
He said: “The welfare of students should be everyone’s number one priority.
“I hope @OfficialUoM will reach out to students and de-escalate tensions.”
Protestors have said that they feel like they have been neglected by the University, and are demanding a 40 per cent reduction in rent for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year.
One of the occupiers, Ben McGowan, 18, is a first-year politics student at the University of Manchester.
Speaking to The Manc, he said: “The way the university has treated students is deplorable.
“Firstly, they told us we would receive face to face teaching and then backtracked on that within a week of us moving in. Then hundreds of us had to isolate with little support.
“The state of the accommodation is awful too. There’s been rat infestations as well as leaks and floods in some of the halls on campus.
“We will not leave until (Vice Chancellor) Nancy Rothwell meets with us and agrees to our aims. The least that university management could do is agree to meet us and hear what we have to say.”
UoM Rent Strike’s original demands, announced on October 5, are as follows:
A rent reduction of at least 40 per cent, for the remainder of the academic year 2020-21.
To offer all students no-penalty early release clause from their tenancy contracts, for both this and the next academic year.
Increase the standard of support for students in halls of residence, this includes food, laundry and post for isolating flats; better security and faster responses to complaints about standards of living e.g. broken fridges.
Mr McGowan, who lives in Fallowfield’s Oak House accommodation, also said he wanted a refund on rent paid for December as new Government guidelines meant he had to leave the accommodation, but the university had “refused to engage.”
In an open letter addressed to Nancy Rothwell, the occupiers said: “Even amidst the calls for transparency between the governing body and the students, you have still failed to provide us with a meeting to merely discuss these demands, much less to implement them.”
Mr McGowan added: “University management have a duty of care over their students.”
“If they are not willing to meet with us to discuss their concerns then they are failing in their role.”
A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “We are aware of the protest by a handful of students in an empty residential building.
“We have made it clear to them that they shouldn’t be there and that they may also be in contravention of current national Health Protection Regulations.
“We are already engaging with elected Students’ Union representatives about many of the issues being highlighted by the protestors.
“The University is fully committed to freedom of expression.”
Mr McGowan said that they have enough food to last them a while, and they will continue to occupy the tower block until their “basic demands” are met.
In an updated statement, a University of Manchester spokesman said that the Vice Chancellor has agreed to meet students over the weekend to discuss their concerns.
Woman who protested alone outside Chanel show labelled ‘a queen’
A woman who staged a lone protest outside the Chanel show in Manchester last week has been inundated with praise from locals.
The woman was positioned on High Street, mere metres from where a-list celebrities and high-fashion models were parading for the fashion giant.
The fact that the exclusive event took place in Manchester has been considered a huge coup for the city, and one which will have had a significant economic impact.
But the woman outside the Chanel show chose the opportunity to highlight the stark contrast between the luxurious fashion show and the harsh reality of many living in poverty in our city.
She held a sign that read: “Over 250,000 children living in poverty in Manchester. Higher than UK average.
“Manchester has one of the highest level of homelessness. 1 in 74 people. 7407 and rising!
“Where have you hidden the homeless Andy??”
Speaking about Chanel, she told photographer Project Certi: “No one was consulted about this. It’s not for the people of Manchester. You can come here if you want a celebrity spot but that’s not for you.
“This sort of thing moves around the world, they’ll have it somewhere weird and wonderful every year, and this is kind of like, capitalising on the working class history of Manchester.
“The poster’s got, ironically, the suffragettes on it, you know, people fighting for rights. They’re using images from the Hacienda, they’re using music of Joy Division and New Order, all of that what made Manchester on the music map all came out working class struggle. It all came during Thatcher and the attack on the working class, which is exactly what we’re seeing now with 12 years of austerity.”
She also highlighted the man who died on the street in the Gay Village on a night where temperatures dropped, and the ‘cr*ppy B&Bs’ that homeless people find themselves housed in.
Speaking of the impact of Chanel on Manchester though, Deputy Leader Luthfur Rahman OBE said: “The impact of the decision by CHANEL to hold its prestigious Métiers d’Art show here in Manchester is something that is already resonating with people around the globe and is going to continue to be felt by the city for quite some time.
“It speaks volumes about the regard in which Manchester is already held across the world, but more importantly it also sends a clear signal to international businesses and the international visitor economy that Manchester is the place to be.
“It’s impossible at this stage to even begin to quantify the economic impact hosting the event has had on the city, or to put a figure on it. The true impact will involve not just the direct spend and income generated within the city over these last few weeks leading up to and during the event, but also the longer-term benefits that will come from the massive boost to Manchester’s profile that CHANEL has given the city, that in turn translates into more visitors coming to see what Manchester has to offer, and more businesses choosing to invest here.
“It has been without doubt quite a moment for Manchester, not least coming as it does off the back of many other significant moments for the city this year, that together place Manchester in absolute pole position on the world’s stage for the years ahead.”
In the comments on Project Certi’s video, one person wrote: “Thank you for giving this woman a platform.”
Another wrote: “Whoever this woman is, she’s a legend. As are you for capturing it.”
Someone else posted: “I have so much respect for this woman, I’d love to meet her and let her know she’s not alone in her feelings towards this.”
One comment said: “She is such a queen, bang on with everything she’s saying.”
Unexpected Manchester city centre street named ‘one of the most polluted’ in the UK
A new fieldwork study has revealed the worst air polluted city centre streets in the UK, and a popular Manchester thoroughfare has been named one of the worst.
Except, it’s really not the street you’d expect it to be.
For some bizarre reason, despite the fact it’s a pedestrianised commercial shopping street in the heart of Manchester city centre, Market Street has been named one of the most polluted streets in the country.
Recordings were taken at high streets in the 25 largest towns and cities in the country over a two-week period, and the results found that 76% are exceeding the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended annual level of air pollution, The Hoot reports.
The study enlisted a planning consultancy to collect samples using an air quality monitoring device at 11am on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to ensure as much comparability as possible between the locations.
The study comes after a poll of 2,000 adults found that 36% have concerns over the health of the community due to air pollution, or the health of their family (26%) or themselves (25%).
Speaking on the shocking findings from the new study, Sam Clarke, who is the chief vehicle officer at the sustainable energy business, said: “With millions set to hit the high street this festive period, we wanted to look at the state of the nation’s air quality in the locations people will be doing most of their Christmas shopping.
“It’s shocking to see that so many were above the World Health Organisation’s annual recommendations for air pollution, and that one in 10 shoppers are even planning on foregoing the highstreets altogether due to air quality.”
20 streets in the UK were over the recommended World Health Organisation recommended levels of 5 µg/m3).
The Most-Polluted Streets in the UK
Stoke-On-Trent (Parliament Street) – 11.7
Newcastle (Northumberland Street) – 11.5
Leicester (Gallowtree Gate) – 11.2
Coventry (West Orchards Way) – 11.1
Hull (Jameston Street) – 10.7
Bradford (Broadway) – 10.6
Southampton (Above Bar Street) – 8.8
Nottingham (High Street) – 7.7
Luton (George Street) – 7.6
Manchester (Market Street) – 7.6
Northampton (Abington Street) – 7.3
Birmingham New Street – 7.3
Liverpool (Church Street) – 7.1
Derby (St Peter’s Street) – 6.9
London (Oxford Street) – 6.8
Sheffield (Fargate) – 6.3
Brighton (Western Road) – 5.6
Leeds (Briggate) – 5.3
Portsmouth (Commercial Road) – 5.1
“If we’re to reach the World Health Organisation’s annual target of 5 µg/m3 of PM2.5 in our air, collectively we need to change our behaviours,” Sam Clarke added.
“With vehicle emissions being a key contributor, anything we can do to travel more greenly, from walking more to cycling, and including electric vehicles, is a very valuable set forward to improve the air we breathe daily.”