Anger over Leeds Marsden House student halls’ fire exit ‘tied shut’

A fire exit with wire wrapped around the gate

image copyrightRyan Gleeson

image captionThe fire exit at Marsden House in Leeds was secured with cable ties “to keep out non-resident students”, a student claims

The parent of a Leeds university student said he was “furious” that a fire exit at his son’s accommodation had been tied shut with cable ties.

Marsden House on Burley Road, Leeds, is home to about 900 students.

Ryan Gleeson, whose step-son is studying at Leeds Beckett University, posted a photo of the secured gate at the halls and alerted the fire service.

IQ Student, which manages the building, said it was investigating and student safety was its “highest priority”.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had “resolved the issue” after attending the site on Monday.

IQ Student said the gate was “one of several escape routes from the building and is 2m away from an escape route through reception, which is staffed around the clock”.

But students say the gate is also the main point of entry and exit to the halls.

Mr Gleeson’s step-son, who wishes to remain anonymous, said it had been secured shut “all day every day” for four days before the ties were removed.

image copyrightRyan Gleeson

image captionThe adjoining turnstiles had also been blocked to stop people getting in and out, the student said

He claimed he had witnessed security guards securing the gate to keep non-residents from entering the building.

“It doesn’t make us feel very safe when we’re paying so much money to be here. It seems like we’re paying for our own house arrest,” he said.

Mr Gleeson, from Blackpool, said: “I was furious. Absolutely livid that a halls of residence where people are in party mode and will undoubtedly be drinking are put in a greater risk of not being able to find a means of escape from a building and to a point of ultimate safety.

“I understand during fresher’s week students are not entirely blameless in creating a situation but this is an absolutely dangerous way to try and resolve it.”

The fire service said blocking a fire exit was illegal, dangerous, “reckless and puts lives at risk”.

A spokeswoman said IQ Student confirmed “they did not secure the exit” and it was working with the company “to ensure this does not happen again and to identify the individual(s) responsible for securing the exit closed”.

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Bamboo briyani stall’s kitchen shut down

GEORGE TOWN: A kitchen in Batu Uban used by a popular bamboo briyani stall here has been ordered to close for two weeks after failing to comply with basic hygiene and health standards.

It was shut under Section 11 of the Food Act after Penang Health Department and Penang Island City Council (MBPP) inspectors found cockroaches in the rice cookers, mould on its bamboo cups and cooked food in uncovered containers placed next to open windows.

The team also saw other unhygienic conditions in the kitchen, including a rusty refrigerator used to store food, rotting vegetables believed to have been used for cooking, food waste and foul smells at the cooking area.

The kitchen was used to cook the briyani served at a roadside stall in Taman Pantai Jerejak, located some 2km away.

The business owner told the raiding officers that the kitchen was used to prepare food for catering services and close family members.

But when health officer Mohd Wazir Khalid asked where the stall’s food was cooked, the man admitted it was done in the same kitchen.

Mohd Wazir said that on checking, they found that the kitchen had been built on state land.

He said action would be taken against the kitchen owner for encroaching into the government land under the National Land Code.

The kitchen was slapped with a RM1,000 compound for failing to upkeep cleanliness, he said.

In the five-hour operation dubbed Ops Sapu, some 39 officers from MBPP and the health department were involved.

“A total of five premises were ordered shut and seven compounds worth RM13,500 were issued for various offences related to basic hygiene and health standards by the department,” he said.

He said MBPP also issued nine compounds amounting to RM1,780 for various offences during the operation.

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House Democrats decry efforts to shut down Stars and Stripes newspaper

House Democrats who served in the armed forces harshly criticized the Trump administration’s decision to pull the plug on the Stars and Stripes news outlet, and vowed to fight to keep the military newspaper funded.

“I read it on active duty when I served in Guam, and it is something that is improving the quality of life for military families and military personnel, and I cannot understand why we would get rid of the Stars and Stripes,” Rep. Ted Lieu, California Democrat, told reporters on a press call Friday afternoon.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the $15.5 million typically set aside for the independent newspaper needed to be reallocated to more critical programs at the Pentagon.

The money was left out of the department’s annual budget request this year and officials on Capitol Hill said there was a request to cease publishing Stars and Stripes by September 30 and “completely dissolve” the paper by the end of January.

USA Today reported on Friday that the Pentagon circulated a memo saying the paper will implement a shutdown plan by September 15th.

The paper’s supporters on Capitol Hill pushed back earlier this week, sending a letter to Mr. Esper calling for him to restore its funding.

Mr. Lieu, who served in the United States Air Force and currently serves as a colonel in the reserves, and Rep. Jason Crow, Colorado Democrat, a former Army Ranger, said Friday they plan on keeping pressure on the administration— and hope to get some support from Republicans.

“If the president doesn’t care about the quality of life of our service members and our families, which is quite evident at this point, Congress does, and we’re going to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” Mr. Crow said.

Their comments about the military newspaper came as part of a larger critique from a handful of former service members now working in the House on the president’s performance as commander in chief.

In particular, they slammed the president in light of allegations he called fallen troops ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’ during a trip to France.

The Atlantic released a report late Thursday night citing four anonymous sources “with firsthand knowledge” that claimed the president canceled his visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in November 2018 by falsely blaming rain and a helicopter that couldn’t fly.

“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” the president allegedly told aides. The article also states that the president referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood in World War I as “suckers” for getting killed.

Despite the story relying on unnamed sources, the Democratic lawmakers said it fit with a pattern of Mr. Trump disrespecting others who sacrificed like the late Sen. John McCain and the Gold Star Khan family, who lost their son in the line of duty.

— Mike Glenn contributed to this report.

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