What’s in a name? Counterfeit cheats in Cheetham

Counterfeit goods seized in Cheetham Hill. Picture: Manchester Evening News.

Counterfeit goods seized in Cheetham Hill. Picture: Manchester Evening News.

Did you happen to see a news story on the internet yesterday about an area of the UK that has been labelled the ‘knock-off’ capital of the country in a new Government report?

It certainly brought a smile to my face, not because of the efforts to close down the thriving industry in counterfeit goods but because of the name of the place: Cheetham Hill, in Greater Manchester.

Can you think of anywhere more appropriate to locate your criminal counterfeit goods business than in a place called Cheetham? After all isn’t that the aim of the trade in fakes; the idea being to cheat ‘em.

Apparently, the trade in counterfeit brands is continuing to flourish there despite a series of high-profile raids which have seen fake goods worth millions seized by the authorities, according to the Government’s Intellectual Property Office.

Now it is asking for additional funding to help Greater Manchester Police tackle what it describes as ‘widespread criminality’ in Cheetham Hill.

A series of raids was organised before Christmas when police and trading standards officers teamed up to strike at 14 shops. Those raids were a success, as goods worth £1.5 million were seized. That’s really only the small tip of a massive iceberg, however.

In 2014, a million cigarettes and 70 kilos of tobacco, all falsely purporting to be genuine brands with an estimated value of more than £5m, were seized. While, in 2013, £1m worth of fake designer clothes, handbags and footwear were confiscated. Anyone fancying a drink was in for a surprise back in 2010 when counterfeit vodka worth £250,000 was seized.

Customer demand for fake designer goods remains high, with ‘Louis Vuitton’ satchels available for £15, ‘Beats’ headphones at £5 and ‘Nike’ shirts at £20. All these are sold well below the prices charged for the genuine articles.

The report says: It is indicative of the entrenched criminal culture of the area that the trade in counterfeit goods has continued despite regular enforcement action and high-volume seizures.

“Cheetham Hill occupies a focal point in the UK market for counterfeit goods. In addition to the significant retail trade occurring directly from premises in the area, there is also information suggesting that local wholesale operations supply counterfeit goods to online and in-person traders across the UK.”

The production, distribution, and sale of counterfeit goods has always had close links to serious organised crime, a fact often not considered by the everyday bargain-hunter or cash-strapped consumers.

The counterfeiters of Cheetham Hill are no different; they have links to serious organised crime, drug dealing and violence, says the report, but adds that the fakers are so ‘embedded’ that agencies like the police, trading standards, the brand-owners and Government departments ‘could not successfully tackle the problem’ on their own.

It’s a serious matter but the fact that the town at the centre of this cheating crimewave is called Cheetham is just too funny for words.

It never rains but it ….. drips

757 iceland

A drip of liquid falling on my face, awaking we with a start. I looked up but saw nothing. I glanced around briefly but, again, nothing. So I settled back down to grab some more sleep. Then, drip, it happened again.

This time, I was wide awake and studied the area  immediately above me, where I saw a drip forming and growing larger. I also discovered that the shoulder of my shirt, close to the neck, was quite wet from previous drips that had missed my face and so did not wake me.

Realising that something was amiss, and that an as yet unidentified liquid should not be falling inside the passenger compartment of a Boeing 757 flying at more than 35,000 feet, I pressed the button to call a flight attendant. Nothing happened, so I called again to be rewarded with the arrival of a member of the Icelandair cabin crew.

She was more than a little surprised by what was happening. She wiped the liquid away and then investigated the contents of the overhead luggage locker, where she found another passenger’s water bottle – a leaking water bottle. Well, at least it was only water, so no harm done and it was easily poured away.

Having wiped both the inside and outside of the luggage locker, all was well. Drip. Not again! This time it was water that had originally escaped, got into some nooks and crannies and was now reaching the dripping point. Liberal quantities of paper napkins squeezed into every crevice may not have been an attractive sight but they were effective.

Regular readers of this blog will have guessed that this flight was one of two Lisa and I took to return from our transatlantic cruise and holiday in the USA.

We landed at Manchester at 10.30am on Friday 13th (no wonder I was dripped on) and after a half-hour delay as a technical fault prevented the opening of the forward hold (see, Friday 13th again), we picked up our hire car.

Having driven to Llandudno and checked into a cat-friendly hotel, we picked up Pooka and Prissy from the cattery and we last night shared our hotel room with them.

Saturday morning is time to say another temporary goodbye to them as our girls are being picked up by pet transportation specialists. Armed with pet passports, they will head for Kent where they will stay overnight before going through the Channel Tunnel and make an overnight stop in France. The next day they will continue into Spain00000. They will be meeting up with us again very late Monday evening, maybe after midnight so technically Tuesday.

Having waved goodbye to the kids on Saturday morning, Lisa and I have decided to bid our farewell to Wales with an early evening meal at our favourite curry restaurant, the Paanshee in Prestatyn. Then we have to return the hire car before spending our last night in the UK in a hotel close to Manchester Airport from where our flight is due to take off at 6.40 on Sunday morning.

We have heard that the adaptions being carried out to our new home in Spain, to make it better for me, are one or two days behind schedule and we may need to stay close by until then. A temporary property has been arranged for us. It is likely that we’ll be in our own home on Wednesday.

Watch this space for further updates.