Canal Street take pride in festival and rid Manchester of blemish of riots

By Barrie White

As Manchester prepares to welcome over 250,000 people to the Pride festival, Canal Street business owners are confident the event will promote a positive atmosphere in the wake of the riots. 

Though the majority of the damage was caused in the city centre, Canal Street – the heart of Manchester’s gay community – did not escape attack.

A few bars along the street saw their windows smashed in and stock taken, while staff members at Churchills were forced to remain locked in.

But as the festival kicks off this Friday, owners of local businesses in Canal Street were adamant that Pride will remove the stain of the riots from Manchester.

Chris Simpson is the General Manager of the View Bar – which had windows broken and stock stolen – and he wants visitors to Pride to just have fun.

“The rioters got in about half-11 on the day of the riots,” he said. 

“There was stock and equipment stolen but we didn’t know until we read Facebook that there was damage to another bar.

“We just want people to have fun because what happened was stupid and we want to get back to normal and have people having fun.”

Tony Cooper is the manager of Via but also acts as the Vice-Chairman of the Village Business Association.

He believes that the level of organisation carried out for Pride will make it a safe event.

He said: “There will be no repeat of the riots.  We had a Village Business Association meeting straight after the riots and it’s been business as normal. 

“It’s always a secure event and incidents like this prove why it is good to have ticketed events.

“Pride is all about celebrating what we have achieved as a community and we won’t let that be overshadowed.”

Paul Smallridge is the owner of REM Bar and he is adamant that Pride’s history of being a happy atmosphere will just carry on.

“It’s always positive,” he said.

“The rioters were idiots and nothing to do with pride.  What they did was ruin small businesses.

“Pride will lift Manchester and that Rainbow symbol means a lot for those who go Pride every year.  It’s the same feeling as Sydney Mardi Gras and it’s now one of the main events in Europe.”

Oliver Anthony, manager of Crunch bar on Canal Street, says he was unsure about if Pride was going to be trouble-free after the riots but believes it will be.

He said: “Pride will mean more than it usually does but this year, it will make the point that the riots will not ruin our lives.”

Taurus restaurant manager Nosheel Rahi is another person who believes the festival will provide a distraction from recent troubles.

“The riot is not going to get us down. It’s an event like Pride that the city needs,” he said.

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