Chaos as large crowd descends on shopping centre ‘and set off fireworks and alarms’

Christmas shopping descended into chaos outside a major shopping centre where fireworks and alarms were set off, amid large crowds.

Huge crowds of youngsters were seen gathering outside the Arndale in Manchester where they are also said to have blocked tram lines.

Some of the youngsters were said to be causing havoc inside the centre where they set off alarms, prompting a visit by police to disperse the crowd which witnesses claimed to be as big as 700, Manchester Evening News reported.

Pat Karney, spokesperson for the city centre, said: “”It is a Christmas headache that we don’t need. There must have been around 700 of them.

“The majority have just been parading up and down Cross Street and Market Street, the problems mainly lie with the minority who have been setting off alarms in the Arndale and throwing fireworks around.

“Others have been standing on the tram tracks in Exchange Square and staff have had to pilot trams in and out.”

A video taken outside in Exchange Square on Sunday evening showed the huge crowds forming beside the doorway and along the tram line, with security staff in high-vis jackets also present.

Police were reportedly also in attendance.

Coun Karney shared the clip on Twitter, writing: “Down at Exchange Sq. We are monitoring very large numbers of young people.

“Causing delay on the trams and lots of them asked to leave the Arndale.”

“It can be quite intimidating for people who just want to come down to the Christmas markets and enjoy shopping. We will be meeting with the local police to discuss this.”

Another witness, who asked to remain anonymous, added: “There were just lots and lots of them blocking the tram lines and stood out the front.

“Lots of the kids with them were running into the shops so I think that’s mostly why police were staying around the area.

“They were all gathered outside, but most of the trouble was going on inside in the shops. “There was just a very huge gathering of hundreds outside. They were sat on the tram lines and platforms too and there were lots of Metrolink staff trying to assist the police.”

However, Transport for Greater Manchester said the large crowds did not cause any ‘operational issues’ but trams were having to pass through Exchange Square ‘slowly’, with people moving off the tracks as trams approached them.