Twelve months on the impact of the grooming scandal is still being felt by many businesses. Taxi drivers have complained of a rise in the amount of abuse they receive, while some takeaways have been boycotted or targeted by vandals.
It emerged during last May’s trial that a number of the men in the grooming ring worked as taxi drivers, or in a takeaway in Heywood, where some of the victims were plied with kebabs and vodka as they were groomed for sex. And since then businesses with no connection to the case have seen trade fall.
Haq Nawaz has run Zeeshan on the corner of Tweedale Street and Castlemere Street in Rochdale for the past three and a half years. He said: “Last year has been the worse I have known. The grooming trial has affected us. People have stopped coming in and it has really affected our business. I know some takeaways have been hit as people have just stopped asking for deliveries or their drivers are abused.”
Riaz Shah runs Cheeky Chicken on Milkstone Road in Rochdale and on Market Street in Heywood. And he says takings in his Heywood takeaway have plummeted. Riaz, who has run the Heywood shop for five years, added: “We have always had a good relationship with the community in Heywood. But someone who came in from out of town did throw a brick at my nephew’s car. A few weeks after the grooming case our business had gone down by around 20 per cent.”
Stephen Campbell owns Heywood-based Car 2000 and admits the past 12 months has been hard for the business. Stephen said: “It was difficult for us when it came out and quite a traumatic time. Drivers have been abused and we have had one who was even assaulted. We have probably lost around 20 or 30 drivers because they just do not want to work in Heywood any more.”
He added: “It is now a lot better than this time last year. We are still not doing as much trade as we were two years ago, but I suppose you could also put that down to the global recession. I do not think any of us should forget what happened, but instead learn from it.”
Cf. Vikram Dodd, “Is child grooming and sexual abuse a race issue?”, Guardian, 14 May 2013