Counterfeit hub shuts down after Council secures court-ordered closure

    A rabbit’s warren of counterfeit shops has been uncovered and closed down as part of a long-running fight against the fake goods trade.

    On Wednesday July 13, Magistrates’ granted a closure order against premises at 57-59 Bury New Road, in Cheetham Hill. The premises, ostensibly Lyca Mobile/Sam’s Newsagents, was in fact a front where thousands of pounds-worth of knock off goods could be sold. Inside, an estimated 11 separate businesses were trading, broken into seven different units. Items being sold included counterfeit clothing, sunglasses, jewellery, perfume and high-end watches and bags. Branded products seen in the store included perfumes, cosmetics, watches clothing and jewellery by Christian Dior Couture, Guerlain, Benefit, Givenchy, Tag Heuer, Hublot and Zenith watches. The premises also had a well organised network of spotters – individuals who play an important part in alerting shops to the presence of the authorities in the area, making it hard for the Council and Police to carry out enforcement work. Spotters will help to co-ordinate shutters on the premises coming down whenever authorities are in the area, and also play a major contributory factor to the atmosphere of intimidation in the area. The Council has received numerous reports of how these people are causing nuisance, annoyance, harassment, alarm and distress to residents and visitors to the area. A male associated with the premises was arrested and convicted in June 2020 for obstructing a constable and for two public order offences. This is not the first occasion the Council has had reason to intervene at this premises. In both 2020 and 2021 it failed test purchase exercises carried out by brand representatives and it is understood that TM-EYE* have previously pursued prosecutions against businesses inside the premises.  As a result of the closure order the premises will be required to remain closed for a three-month period with only authorised officers from the Council or emergency services allowed to enter. The closure was attended by the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team, GMP’s Cheetham Hill Neighbourhood team and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service who were on hand to inspect the building. Owing to concerns about the condition of the building, the Council’s Building Control Team were requested to visit the premises by GMFRS, and they will now be liaising with the property owners about what steps will need to be taken to ensure that the condition of the building does not pose a threat to public safety. This successful action has taken place as the Council prepares to mark Anti-Social Behaviour Awareness Week. Between July 18-22 the Council will be using this week to highlight the issues around ASB, but also solutions on how communities can be made safer through collective action. People can visit resolveuk.org.uk/asb-awareness-week/about-asb-awareness-week to find out more about this national campaign. The Council would urge anyone affected by anti-social behaviour to speak up, and contact the Council confidentially on 0161 234 4612 or by emailing asb.action.team@manchester.gov.uk. Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council said: “Anti-social behaviour is awful for anyone who has to experience it. It can drastically reduce our quality of life, ruin neighbourhoods and leave a lasting mark on our communities.  “In the Strangeways and Cheetham Hill area we know the issues that surround counterfeit shops such as this, with many people being hassled and intimidated by the spotters which lurk outside their doorways, and of course we know the wider issues with the criminality which is generated by these businesses.  “I want this closure to send a message of encouragement to our residents so they know that we are playing our part to stamp out crime and ASB. But also, I would urge them to get in touch with us so that if they are affected we can work with our partners to intervene and make our communities safer for all.”

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