Manchester: Calls to close off cruising site after man dies in canal
A cruising site in Manchester may have to be closed off, following the death of a man who fell into nearby water, according to officials.
Greater Manchester Police, the council and Manchester and Pennine Waterways are considering gating off the Dale Street area known as the Undercroft.
It was prompted by the death of a man on Tuesday who had been involved in an assault last weekend on the Rochdale Canal.
Steven Cane, 25, is believed to have fallen into the water on Sunday when a struggle broke out as his victims tried to defend themselves.
Police rescued Mr Cane from the canal, but he later died in hospital.
A 34-year old man was attacked and pushed in the water but managed to climb out.
This year, there have been two deaths in canals in the city.
Manchester’s Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) have said closing off the Undercroft is not a solution.
LGF Community safety Officer Stefanie Hartley said: “It’s a well-established cruising area; it has been for many years.
“Obviously there’s a risk that people are going down there to engage in sex and sex acts and they are being exploited and attacked in other ways.
“By closing off that area and gating it off completely, I would worry those activities are just going to move elsewhere.”
Inspector Phil Spurgeon, from the Gay Village neighbourhood policing team, said: “The reality is when you have a busy city, a vibrant night time economy, you have 500 licensed premises in 2.2 square miles, you put a big canal system through the middle of that and you are going to end up with some fatalities, which is dreadful.”
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Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, Bernard Priest, said: “We are currently looking at a range of ways to make this area safer, including gating off the Undercroft at night, which will prevent pedestrian access to the towpath but will still allow the area to be accessed by canal boat users.
“We will of course ask Manchester residents and canal users for their views before going ahead with this.
“We recognise the Undercroft is a well-established public sex environment and are working to tackle crime associated with this.”
David Baldacchino, of Manchester and Pennine Waterways, added: “I look after over 200 miles of the canals and most of that has a pretty good safety record.
“There is this one area in Manchester which is earning a reputation, which is not what we would want.”