UK Property sale hits record low

Residential property sales in the UK in April hit their lowest monthly level since comparable records began in 2005, new figures show.

Houses

There were 38,060 transactions in April, according to provisional numbers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

This was less than half the level seen in the same month last year.

Spring is usually a busy period for the property market, but the coronavirus lockdown halted activity.

The government lifted many of these restrictions on the sector in England in mid-May. The total number of UK property sales is slightly less than the previous low when the taps were turned off in the property market at the height of the financial crisis in January 2009.

Source: BBC News

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Two Rochdale roads in Greater Manchester painted with thank you message

Two roads in Rochdale have been painted with messages to thank key workers from medical staff to care workers, social workers, waste operatives and many more for the great work they are doing during this awful pandemic. The markings are now down at Whitehall Street at the approach to Rochdale Infirmary and outside Birch Hill Hospital.The thank you message outside Rochdale Infirmary

Source: Rochdale News

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Manchester Trafford Centre firm Intu warns it could go bust

The owner of some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres, Intu, has said there are doubts that it can survive unless it raises extra funds.

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Its comments came as the firm – which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre and the Lakeside complex in Essex – reported a £2bn loss in 2019.

The weakness in the retail sector meant Intu wrote down the value of its shopping centre sites by nearly £2bn.

Intu will try to raise extra cash after an earlier plan to raise £1bn failed.

The collapse and contraction of High Street retailers has left landlords such as Intu struggling to fill vacant space. At the same time, Intu has run up debts of nearly £5bn.

In January, the firm approached its shareholders to ask for more money amid the downturn in the retail sector.

But last week, Intu said it was at risk of breaching debt covenants after it was forced to abandon the fundraising attempt. It said “extreme market conditions” deterred investors from giving fresh cash.

To help it keep going, the firm said it would try to engage with investors, or it might have to sell more of its assets.

The company has already been selling shopping centres to raise cash.

Intu said it could also try to seek waivers on its debt commitments to lenders and spend less in the short term.

Source: BBC News

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Angry Man United fans vandalise Ed Woodward’s house

Manchester United’s fans have always been pro-active when it comes to the ownership of the club.

Twenty-one years ago, the Shareholders United group played a key role in helping to block Rupert Murdoch’s proposed takeover at Old Trafford.

And in 2005, following the Glazer buy-out of United, that organisation became the Manchester United Supporters Trust, an industrial and provident society with over 200,000 paying members that continues to fight for fans’ rights and is recognised by the club despite it’s continued opposition to the Americans’ ownership.

Tuesday night’s attack on the home of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward suggests that the more militant members of United’s support now believe that direct action is required to remove Old Trafford’s controversial owners.

But it is not a new development. There has always been a group of angry young men lurking in the shadows.

The Manchester Education Committee and the sinister splinter group the Men in Black are two elements of United’s support that first emerged when the Glazers were plotting their controversial leveraged buy-out of the club in the early 2000s.

The MEC first hit the headlines in February 2004 when a group of fans disrupted a race meeting at Hereford after manager Sir Alex Ferguson had become embroiled in a legal row with JP McManus and John Magnier over the ownership of champion racehorse Rock of Gibraltar.

The Coolmore stud in Ireland, owned by McManus and Magnier, was then vandalised.

Eight months later, the MEC issued a statement of intent after fans invaded the pitch during a reserve-team game at Altrincham’s Moss Lane ground in a bid to “punish” United’s in-house TV station for offering a media platform to Florida-based businessman Malcolm Glazer.

Dubbed ‘Operation Havana’, the publicity stunt came with a warning that the MEC were about to bring “civil war” to Old Trafford and that the club’s sponsors and commercial partners would be viewed as “legitimate targets.”

In early 2005, with the Glazer takeover now looking inevitable, another statement was released warning chief executive David Gill that supporting the leveraged buy-out would be viewed as “an act of treachery that will place board members in an extremely vulnerable position for years to come.”

It came with a chilling warning to Joel Glazer that he would not be able to employ a security staff big enough to keep him safe.

When the Glazers completed their takeover that May, the debt-free club was instantly plunged £700million into the red.

One influential group of supporters turned their backs on Old Trafford to form the rebel club FC United of Manchester.

Others stayed to continue the fight.

A people carrier transporting three of the Glazer brothers to Old Trafford was attacked outside the stadium later that summer.

That prompted Joel Glazer to break the family’s silence for the first and only time to tell MUTV viewers that they could be trusted to run the club properly and maintain United’s success on the pitch.

Over the next eight years, Ferguson’s brilliance as a manager delivered another five Premier League titles and the Champions League.

But fan protests continued as the Glazers began plundering £1.3billion from the Old Trafford coffers to meet debt repayments and pay themselves dividends.

A Green and Gold campaign was launched by MUST, urging supporters to stop buying official club merchandise and instead wear the colours of United’s founding fathers from Newton Heath.

But more aggressive elements began to re-emerge after rivals Manchester City were bought by Sheikh Mansour and it became clear that the Blues were about to become a force in the Premier League.

In 2008, Rio Ferdinand was confronted at his Cheshire mansion by a balaclava-wearing group calling themselves the Men in Black.

The England defender was stalling on a new contract and the MiB were intent on reminding him how the club continued to pay his wages after he had been suspended by the FA for eight months after missing a drug test.

Ferdinand agreed to talk to the group if they removed their balaclavas – and although worried neighbours called the local police, the evening ended peacefully.

Source: Mirror

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Police arrest man for operating funeral service from home and remove coffins from property

A man has been arrested at a house in Blackley, Greater Manchester as neighbours witnessed police removing a number of coffins from the property.

Officers were called to Capricorn Road on Friday night to reports of suspicious circumstances.

A man in his 50s was arrested on suspicion of fraud and remains in custody for questioning.

A funeral service business which is registered to the house is listed online.

Police have not released any further details about the nature of the investigation.

Neighbours reported seeing a number of coffins being removed from the property and placed inside a private ambulance.

Footage seen by the Manchester Evening News shows two coffins being wheeled from the house on Saturday lunch time.

On Saturday night, a police car guarded the front of the property while detectives continued their enquiries.

A number of plain clothed officers were seen searching the house throughout the afternoon.

A funeral hearse can be seen in the driveway covered partly by tarpaulin.

Local residents say a private ambulance parked outside the house was taken away by police.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “Police were called at 8.45pm on Friday evening to reports of suspicious circumstances.

“Officers attended and arrested a man in his 50s on suspicion of fraud.

“He remains in police custody.

“A cordon is still in place.”

Source: Manchester Evening News

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National Trust celebrate 125th Anniversary with Zero Carbon pledge

The National Trust has today unveiled one of the UK’s biggest woodland expansion and tree planting projects in an ambitious plan to become carbon net zero by 2030 as the charity celebrates its 125th anniversary.

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National Trust outlines fresh ambition in landmark speech by Director General

  • Charity will become carbon net zero by 2030
  • 20 million trees to be planted and established over ten years to tackle climate change, creating new woodland ‘one and a half times the size of Manchester or equivalent to 42 new Sherwood Forests’
  • Ambitious plans to create green corridors for people and nature near towns and cities
  • Year-long campaign to connect people with nature during 125th anniversary year includes dancing outdoors, watching dawns and a celebration of Britain’s own blossom season
  • Continued commitment to investing in arts and heritage
  • Charity expects to welcome its six millionth member this year

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Hilary McGrady said: ‘It’s our 125th year and the National Trust has always been here for the benefit of everyone. That is why we are making these ambitious announcements in response to what is needed from our institution today.

As Europe’s biggest conservation charity, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to fight climate change, which poses the biggest threat to the places, nature and collections we care for.

People need nature now more than ever. If they connect with it then they look after it. And working together is the only way we can reverse the decline in wildlife and the challenges we face due to climate change.‘.

Source: NationalTrust.org.uk 

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Breakdown of Trafford Council property investment of over £200m in 2019

Trafford Council in Greater Manchester, UK spent £103.4 million on purchasing and investing in property in 2019 as part of its finance strategy.

The authority has spent the cash in the hope of bringing in greater returns for council tax payers through interest on loans and from profits on any future sales of property assets, as well as supporting ongoing regeneration across Trafford.

CIS Tower part of Trafford Council property investment

Some of the money used to make these investments has come from a central government borrowing fund which offers low interest rates for local authorities and encourages them to invest in property.

The rest has come from within the council’s budget using council tax.

In total, Trafford has purchased five properties this year for a total of £50.8 million and made loans as part of its property investment strategy totalling £102.6 million.

The council bought the following properties in 2019:

  • Lacey Street Royal Mail depot, Stretford (bought for £800,000)
  • Stretford Mall (bought as part of £50 million deal with developers Bruntwood: £25 million to cover the council’s half of the purchase, a further £25 million was loaned to Bruntwood to cover their half of the costs)
  • Stamford Quarter shopping centre, Altrincham (bought as part of above £50 million Bruntwood deal)
  • Clarendon House (bought as part of above £50 million Bruntwood deal)
  • Sainsbury’s Altrincham (bought for £25million)

The old Kellogg’s site in Stretford – Trafford council property development 

 

The council loaned money to owners or developers for the following properties:

  • CIS Tower, Miller Street, Manchester city centre (loan of £60 million to owners for refinancing and refurbishing the building)
  • Four office buildings off Albert Square, Manchester city centre (loan of £17.6 million as property investment)
  • Stamford Quarter, Altrincham (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of £100million purchase deal)
  • Stretford Mall (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of above deal)
  • Clarendon House (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of above deal)

The grand total of more than £203 million spent this year doesn’t include a further £2.5 million loaned to Trafford Leisure to support two leisure centres in Altrincham and Urmston.

The council made clear that the loan wasn’t part of the council’s investment strategy, but to support the centres and give staff their first pay increase in years.

Other ongoing development projects that the council has on its books include the former Kellogg’s factory site in Stretford that was bought for £12 million back in September 2017.

The site is expected to include 750 homes, an 100-bedroom hotel and a primary school once development work is finished.

Plans to merge two primary schools, knock down their 100-year-old building and replace it with a brand new 21-classroom school in Altrincham are also on the cards.

The council is still in talks with Stamford Park Infants and Junior Schools after an offer of £8 million to build a new school on the site was turned down twice.

Source: Manchester Evening News

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