The Mancunian Way: The end of the counterfeit capital of Europe


The war on counterfeit street has been won. At least that’s according to Greater Manchester Police[1]’s Chief Constable Stephen Watson.

When he was installed as chief constable three years ago this month, Cheetham Hill[2] was one of the first problems he turned his mind to. Known as the counterfeit capital of Europe, the area around Bury[3] New Road was the stomping ground for at least 32 gangs who were dealing drugs and exploiting vulnerable people.

Chief Constable of GMP, Stephen Watson

In October 2022, the force launched Operation Vulcan, a special operation with the aim of ending counterfeit street and everything that lay behind it. Since then, we have seen countless raids, seizures, and shops closed down – and now, the area lies on the brink of being bulldozed.

Asked if he could claim victory, in an interview with the Manchester Evening News Mr Watson said: “The counterfeit capital of Europe is over, absolutely. Our strategy for Cheetham Hill is ‘clear, hold, build’. In terms of the clear and hold elements of the strategy, yes we can claim victory. The build element comes next. We don’t build stuff. Others do. But what we do is hold until people build.

“And that means investment and it means infrastructure. It means old buildings rendered unusable etc etc being properly looked after by other people.

“Bear in mind what Cheetham Hill was. Yes, it was the counterfeit capital of Europe, literally. But it was always viewed through the prism of counterfeit goods. That was always just the tip of the iceberg. It was the manifestation of serious and organised crime.”

He added the force are ‘not going anywhere’ until the area is ‘properly invested in’ and is ‘allowed to grow as somewhere that is literally adjacent to the new glass-and-steel growing Manchester’.

“And I think we’re already starting to see real signs of that,” he continued. “Look at the retail values of land in Cheetham Hill. It’s really starting to increase in value.

“Why? Because it becomes investable.”

It’s a fascinating read from John Scheerhout – and you can read it here[4].

‘We can’t accept this level of abuse’

We’re gearing up for another hot weekend – but for one city centre park, that brings concerns.

Cotton Field Park on New Islington marina said it took them six hours to clean up the mess left by punters last weekend, forcing them to close early. They told the Manchester Evening News they ‘hate’ stopping people coming in, but ‘can’t accept this level of abuse’.

Cotton Field Park

The park is privately owned and run, but open to the public – and those working on the marina said part of the problem comes from people visiting from out of the area and bringing booze to the space.

“We’re fully open-minded, we understand it was a hot day,” they said. “But they depart and leave all their stuff in the park. It took us six hours to clean up. We had to go around the whole park cleaning up bags, umbrellas, clothes, bottles.”

We’ll see what happens as the sun comes back tomorrow – more here[5].

Food and drink festival

With Barry Manilow taking to the stage at Co-op Live and Manchester City playing a potentially title-winning game at the Etihad, Manchester city centre[6] is set to be bursting with life on Sunday afternoon.

But if riotous football fans and 70s music isn’t your thing, you might be relieved to know there is an escape in the form of the South Manchester Food and Drink Festival festival.

The South Manchester Food and Drink Festival is coming to Wythenshawe Park this weekend

Held at Wythenshawe[7] Park and Gardens there will be a large artisan market featuring local traders and small businesses as well as a street food arena selling everything from Middle Eastern delights to classic Yorkshire favourites.

You can find out more here[8].

Manchester Arena cops took two-HOUR kebab break on night of bomb

Two British Transport Police (BTP) cops who took a two-HOUR kebab break on the night of the tragic arena bomb have been handed final written warnings.

PCs Jessica Bullough and Mark Renshaw took a 10-mile round trip to buy kebabs from Longsight[9], at a time when suicide bomber Salman Abedi was stalking the arena complex.

PC Jessica Bullough & PCSO Mark Renshaw walk into Victoria railway station at 8.09pm on the day of the Manchester Arena attack with kebabs they have bought

Following a complaint from Arena families, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) ordered BTP to investigate the actions of two police constables and two police community support officers (PCSOs) who were responsible for patrolling the Arena on the night of the attack in 2017.

Today the police watchdog confirmed two unnamed officers, understood to be PCs Bullough and Renshaw, had been given final written warnings. More here[10].

Richest of the rich

The Sunday Times Rich List is out – and the wealthiest people in Greater Manchester and the North West have been named.

Manchester United investor Sir Jim Ratcliffe tops the list in our region, despite the newspaper reporting that he has lost more than £6 billion this year. The Sunday Times has listed Sir Jim’s wealth in 2024 at £23.519bn. That’s a drop of £6.169bn in the last year.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe

However, he still has nearly double the wealth of runner-up, Michael Platt. Mr Platt, the 56-year-old co-founder and managing director of BlueCrest Capital Management is from Preston.

The rest of the North West top five includes Cheshire-based The Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor family, owners of property business Grosvenor Group worth £10.127bn.

Home Bargains boss Tom Morris and family from Liverpool are fourth, with £6.673bn and Blackburn brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa of the EG Group and Asda[11], worth £5bn. The rankings say that the Issas have lost £50m this year. More here[12].

Weather etc

Saturday: Warm with sunny intervals. 22C.

Roadworks: A627 Cavendish Street in both directions closed due to gas main work from Katherine Street to Burlington Street.

Manchester headlines

  • Murder probe: Officers have begun their second day searching a north Manchester beauty spot as a murder investigation continues. More here[13].

  • Armed police at uni: Armed police have descended on a Manchester Metropolitan University building. More here[14].

  • Fatal crash: A ‘cyclist’ was killed after reportedly being ‘struck by a lorry’ on a main road in Salford on Thursday (May 16). More here[15].

Worth a read

Just weeks after the local elections, Labour[16] have been across the country spreading their message in key seats. Leigh, which was a Labour town for nearly 100 years before voters rejected the party in 2019, saw a visit from Yvette Cooper this week as the party fights to win voters back.

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper meets party supporters in Leigh

But what did residents think? Jo Timan has their thoughts here[17].


  1. ^ Greater Manchester Police (
  2. ^ Cheetham Hill (
  3. ^ Bury (
  4. ^ here (
  5. ^ here (
  6. ^ Manchester city centre (
  7. ^ Wythenshawe (
  8. ^ here (
  9. ^ Longsight (
  10. ^ here (
  11. ^ Asda (
  12. ^ here (
  13. ^ here (
  14. ^ here (
  15. ^ here (
  16. ^ Labour (
  17. ^ here (