A government minister has told peers that it is “not necessary” for all taxis to be accessible to wheelchair-users.Transport minister Andrew Jones said that such a policy would mean having to replace thousands of taxis across the country.But members of the Equality Act 2010 and disability committee told the minister that powers to force all taxis to be wheelchair-accessible had been passed by parliament 20 years ago through the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 but had not been implemented by successive governments.The Labour peer Lord Foster asked what evidence the government had for its claim that introducing these measures would be a “burden” on the industry, and how it balanced this against the burden caused to disabled people by an inaccessible taxi service.Jones (pictured giving evidence to the committee) said that about 56 per cent of taxis in England and Wales were wheelchair-accessible, and so he was “not sure the problem actually exists”.He said: “I don’t think we need to have every single taxi to be wheelchair-accessible. We need to have a significant number that are wheelchair-accessible so that people who require them can access them.”He said the burden on the industry would be the cost of replacing the 35,500 non-wheelchair-accessible taxis, when a new London taxi cost about £40,000.But he pointed to another measure from the DDA 1995, which would force taxi-drivers to provide assistance to disabled people, and had also not been implemented.He said he was “supportive” of this principle and that his department was hoping to make a decision on the measure “very shortly”.But Lord Foster questioned his claim that the lack of accessible taxis was not a problem.He said: “I am very surprised to hear that you don’t think the problem exists, because all the evidence we have had in front of our committee suggests that this is one of the biggest problems that disabled people have.”And Baroness Deech, who chairs the committee, said: “It has been the will of parliament for 20 years that taxis be accessible. How many more decades is this going to take?”When told that 100 per cent of London taxis were accessible, Jones admitted this meant that the proportion of accessible taxis was far lower in some parts of the country than 56 per cent, and in rural areas was just 13 per cent.Baroness Deech said: “Unless you bring those regulations into force on a rolling basis, taxi-drivers will never get the cars that are big enough to take wheelchairs. The will of parliament should be carried out.”Baroness Brinton, the disabled president of the Liberal Democrats, said a survey in Watford had shown that under 20 per cent of its taxis were accessible, and a very small percentage of those were wheelchair-accessible, with an even smaller percentage accessible to electric wheelchairs.She asked if the government could make it compulsory for any wheelchair-accessible taxi to use one ramp, rather than two, as only those with one ramp were accessible to users of electric wheelchairs.She said: “Many taxi-drivers hide behind the accessibility label and can’t deliver. It’s very easy to sort out, given the price of ramps these days.”Jones said that was a “very fair point” and that he was “extremely happy to take that forward” with his department.
The BBC’s disabled security correspondent has spoken of his wish for a “normalisation of disability” in society.Frank Gardner, who was giving the third annual Jack Ashley Memorial Lecture, said he would like to see “the sharp edges of difference” between disabled and non-disabled people “sand-papered down so people don’t make a big deal about it anymore”.He said: “What I would like to see is the normalisation of disability, that people don’t look twice at somebody who’s blind or in a wheelchair… so they are 100 per cent part of mainstream society.”Gardner (pictured when he featured on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?) told the invited audience in the state rooms used by the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, about many of the daily experiences of discrimination that have frustrated him since he became disabled 12 years ago.He described his continuing frustration with the barriers he encounters with air travel, including the ground staff who often grab him by the shoulders without asking in order to “manoeuvre” him off a plane, and how he is frequently left alone waiting for assistance at the end of a flight, long after the other passengers have disembarked.Gardner said that many of the problems he faced were due to the “attitude” of service-providers, and that there were “a lot of areas where life could be made easier without too much difficulty”.He also spoke of his frustration at non-disabled people who use accessible toilets, and the abuse of accessible parking bays in central London by non-disabled drivers.He said: “For me there might as well not be a single disabled parking spot in central London because I can never find them.“They are used by people who are able-bodied… it’s bloody annoying.”Gardner spoke also of how he became disabled, having been shot six times and left for dead by terrorists in Saudi Arabia in 2004, and how he then spent seven months in hospital and underwent 14 operations.He said that two things particularly helped him avoid falling into a “vortex of self-pity and despair”: the advice of a Navy psychiatrist, who told him to worry about the things he could still do and not those he would not be able to do anymore, and a letter from his bosses at BBC News which promised that his position as security correspondent would still be his when he was ready to return to work.The lecture was hosted by Disability Rights UK (DR UK), the all-party parliamentary disability group (APPDG) and the family of the late Lord [Jack] Ashley, the former deaf MP and peer who died four years ago after nearly half a century spent fighting in parliament for disability rights and equality, and who chaired the APPDG for more than 40 years.One of his daughters, Guardian journalist Jackie Ashley, said that her husband, BBC political journalist and author Andrew Marr, who was also at the lecture, had not wanted to be “that bloke with a stroke” after he became disabled, while her father had not wanted to be “that deaf MP”.But she said that they and Gardner had still been “inspirational” to disabled people, and she asked him how he felt about the idea of being a spokesperson for disabled people.Gardner said he did “not want to be associated with one particular thing” and although he did not have “anything against disabled people” he did not want to be a spokesperson for them any more than he wanted to be a spokesperson for people who drive Toyotas, although he said he hoped his work was “an inspiration for other people”.He pointed out that the disabled consultant Phil Friend, a former chair of Disability Rights UK, had once told him after he had apologised for not having time to help with a certain piece of work: “Keep doing what you’re doing, keep being on air… that’s enough.”But the disabled crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell pushed Gardner further, and asked: “Don’t you think you can do both?”She said that she speaks on disability in the House of Lords but also on other issues, and accepts that she has a privileged position, adding: “Don’t you think it’s a kind of duty that those of us who have the privilege of having the ear of people do a bit of both?”Gardner told her: “That’s why I’m here tonight. I think it’s a good thing to do. I don’t think it’s a duty.“Instead of going to my daughter’s school concert, I’m here. I think what I do is important and it’s a case of finding the right balance.”Liz Sayce, DR UK’s chief executive, told the audience: “We want everybody to have that chance, if you become disabled, to pursue the life you want, the career you want, as Jack Ashley did and as Frank you have described.“Unfortunately, for many disabled people it is still not happening; there are too many barriers.”She pointed to DR UK’s leadership programme, and said: “More and more people are coming through it, showing talent can break through.”She said the programme was producing a “cadre of disabled people” who are becoming role models and mentors for other disabled people.She said: “The more disabled people [there are] doing everything from being MPs to security correspondents to company directors, gradually we are going to… change the world.”
The number of disabled people living in poverty has risen by 200,000 in just one year, government figures have revealed.The new figures [summaryresults, tables 7a and 7b], published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP),show levels of absolute poverty rose between 2016-17 and 2017-18.Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said the figures meant another200,000 disabled people living “terrible, degrading, miserable, half-lives”.The figuresare likely to be influenced by continuing government attempts to cut spendingon disability benefits, including policies such as the benefits freeze and cutsto payments to new employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants placed inthe work-related activity group (WRAG).The WRAGcuts of nearly £30 a week were introduced in April 2017, with ministers tryingto justify them by claiming they would “incentivise” sick and disabled peopleto find work.The newpoverty figures are part of the annual Households Below Average Income report,which was published last Thursday (28 April).They alsoshow that as many as 600,000 more disabled people are now in absolute poverty,compared with 2010, when the Tory-led coalition government came to power.Mediaattention focused on a rise in child poverty, but the report also showsincreased levels of absolute poverty – the government’s preferred measure –affecting disabled people.Householdsare said to be in absolute poverty if their income is less than 60 per cent ofaverage (median) income in 2010-11, adjusted for inflation.Beforehousing costs are taken into account, the proportion of individuals living inhouseholds including a disabled person who were in absolute poverty rose from16 per cent to 18 per cent, between 2016-17 and 2017-18.And thenumber of disabled people living in absolute poverty – before housing costs –rose from 3.6 to 3.8 million.Once housingcosts have been accounted for, the proportion of individuals living inhouseholds including a disabled person who were in absolute poverty also rose,from 22 to 23 per cent.And thenumber of disabled people living in absolute poverty – after housing costs –rose from 4.9 million to 5 million, an increase of 100,000.Bob Ellard, a member of DPAC’s national steering group, said: “Wealthypeople running the government think poverty means not having much money. “They don’t understand poverty, it doesn’t just mean little money; itmeans bleakness, fear, misery, hopelessness, day in day out, no rest and noremission, stretching into a degrading future. “It means hunger, it means cold in winter, it means worsening mentalhealth, it means bad living condition and fear of being on the streets. “And for some people it means death by suicide, starvation or othereasily preventable causes. 200,000 more disabled people in poverty isn’t just anumber. “Five million disabled people in absolute poverty is five millionindividual human beings living terrible, degrading, miserable, half-lives. Aliving nightmare.”MichelleMaher, from the WOWcampaign, said the figure of 200,000 moredisabled people in absolute poverty was “no surprise to campaigners whorecognise the multiple cuts disabled people face”, including the bedroom tax,and cuts to housing benefit and council tax support, the closure of theIndependent Living Fund, cuts to employment and support allowance, and theimpact of the benefits freeze and the benefit cap. She said WOWcampaignhad been fighting for seven years “to get the government to assess the impact ofall disability cuts” and to demonstrate a duty of care to disabled children andadults across the UK and to “make sure disabled people are not driven intopoverty”. She said: “Theyrefuse, as they know the figure would emerge that disabled families could useto fight for support, and shock the public.“Iabsolutely cannot comprehend the inhumanity and cruelty shown to our fellowcitizens.”Shepredicted that the roll-out of universal credit would make the number ofdisabled people in absolute poverty “far, far worse”. A DWP spokesperson refused to say if work and pensions secretary AmberRudd accepted that the increase in disabled people in poverty was caused bycontinuing government attempts to cut spending on disability benefits, or explainwhat other factors may have caused the rise.But she said in a statement: “Tackling poverty will always be a priorityfor this government, and we take these numbers extremely seriously.“Absolute poverty rates for people in a family reporting a disability arelower than in 2010, and we are spending £55 billion this year on benefits tosupport disabled people and those with health conditions – more than everbefore.“We are looking at what more can be done to help the most vulnerable andimprove their life chances.”Although DWP is correct that the proportions of households in absolutelypoverty are slightly lower (by one percentage point) than in 2009-10, thenumbers of disabled people in absolute poverty have increased by 300,000(before housing costs) and 600,000 (after housing costs) between 2009-10 and2017-18.A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
Saints return to the Centurions for the first time since 2005 with what looks set to be the biggest away following at the Sporting Village to date.“It will be a tough battle for sure,” he said. “I am happy they are back in Super League. The game against Cas probably didn’t do them justice. It is a tough place to go and a tough first game for them.“But what you saw on Friday (against Leeds) was the Leigh we know. Derek (Beaumont) and all the boys involved there deserve more credit than they are getting.“It will be tough. Leigh and Saints always seem to get on but I’m sure they will be a fiery atmosphere on Friday night.”KC will be able to call on the returning Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook to fill the void left by Joe Greenwood’s departure to the Gold Coast Titans.“Louie was ready for week one but didn’t have enough miles in his legs,” Cunningham added. “Matty Smith is progressing well too. He is still in his boot and we’re doing all the things to make sure he is right for the rest of the season.”Saints have been given an allocation of East Stand tickets for the game at Leigh on Friday after they sold out the South Stand.Full ticket details can be found in the match centre.Buying from the club benefits us direct – you can purchase your ticket from the Ticket Office, online and by calling 0174 455 052.
Kick off is 2.30pm at Ruskin Drive in St Helens with entry priced at £2 for adults and under 16s free.
The game will be played at Stebonheath Park, Llanelli home of Betfred League 1 side West Wales Raiders.The Squad:Harry Anderson (Leeds Rhinos, Kippax Welfare, Brigshaw High School) Danny Attley (Leeds Rhinos, Kippax Welfare, John Smeaton Academy) Joe Barnes (Warrington Wolves, Halton Farnworth Hornets, Great Sankey High School) Lewis Baxter (St Helens, Wigan St. Judes, Standish High School) Jack Bibby (Wigan Warriors, Shevington Sharks, Hawkley Hall High School) Joe Burton (Leeds Rhinos, Kippax Welfare, St Wilfred’s High School) Oli Burton (Leeds Rhinos, Kippax Welfare, St Wilfred’s High School) Nathan Carter (Castleford Tigers, Kippax Welfare, Corpus Christi) Nathan Clemmitt (Newcastle Thunder, Cramlington Rockets, King Edward VI) Jacob Dugdale (Widnes Vikings, Wigan St Judes, Standish High School) Jude Ferriera (City of Hull Academy, West Hull, Hull Collegiate) James Patrickson (Wakefield Trinity, Castleford Panthers, St Wilfred’s High School) Jumah Sambou (St Helens, Woolston Rovers, Kings Leadership Academy) Harry Shackleton (Bradford Bulls, Hunslet Warriors, Rodillian Academy) Iwan Stephens (Leeds Rhinos, Drighlington ARL, Morley Academy) Robson Stevens (Huddersfield Giants, Birstall Victoria, Castle Hall Academy) Will Tate (City of Hull Academy, Skirlaugh Bulls, Caistor High School) Kai Tyson (City of Hull Academy, Skirlaugh, Malet Lambert)
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Saints face Salford Red Devils in a Heaven vs Hell clash on Friday at the Totally Wicked Stadium with kick off at 7:45pm before a Coral Challenge Cup Quarter Final tie with Wakefield Trinity.Friday’s opponents Salford have been rather inconsistent thus far, but Holbrook is well aware of the dangers they possess, especially through the likes of halves Jackson Hastings and Robert Lui.“We know what they are capable of. They had a great, dominant win over Warrington a couple of weeks back and went over to Catalans and thumped them over there which nobody has been able to do. So they are a real dangerous attacking team. They execute their plays really well. Every team run plays, but there is a difference between running plays and executing it well and Salford do run their plays really well.“Through Jackson Hastings and Robert Lui in the halves, they are the dominant playmakers in their side and do a really good job for them. ”Holbrook named his 19 man squad earlier as James Roby was left out with a minor injury niggle and he admits that he will make a few changes to the team if other players are not fit in time for the game on Friday.“We are looking OK, but we have got a couple of bumps and bruises after the game on Sunday that is for sure, so we will get a closer look closer to Friday and if they are all OK it will be pretty much the same, but if not, we will make a few changes.”Mark Percival, Luke Thompson and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook have been out for a few weeks, but Holbrook has revealed all three are on track with their injury recovery.“They are progressing really well. There are no setbacks which is great, but they won’t be back any earlier than we thought so they are still a couple of weeks away, but all three are going really well.”Holbrook also had some fond words for the Saints fans who played such an important role in our win over Huddersfield in the Coral Challenge Cup, whilst he believes Wakefield will pose a similar threat to that of the Giants.“It is such a big stadium which can be awkward, but for us to have so many fans there on a Sunday at 6pm for an awkward time slot, played a big part for us staying alive in the Challenge Cup so it was great to see.“Wakefield is another tricky game. I thought Huddersfield were always going to be tricky and they are capable of playing really well like they did on Sunday. Wakefield are in the same bracket. They are as good as anyone on their day, but it is fantastic to be playing it at home, I think that is awesome and something we are really looking forward to.”Before the Saints face the Red Devils and Holbrook admits he and the players are looking forward to the fans cheering us on at the Totally Wicked Stadium.“It is great to be back at home this week and the boys and myself are looking forward to that.”NEXT UP FOR SAINTS AT THE TOTALLY WICKED STADIUM IS A HEAVEN VS HELL CLASH WITH SALFORD RED DEVILS ON FRIDAY MAY 17TH WITH A 7:45PM KICK OFF. YOU CAN BUY TICKETS FOR THE GAME ONLINE HERE, OR BY CALLING INTO THE TICKET OFFICE AT THE TOTALLY WICKED STADIUM.
Police investigating after a crash on the Heidi Trask Drawbridge in Wrightsville Beach Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Some Wrightsville Beach firefighters are being honored for their response to an accident last year.In November, they responded to a car wreck on the Heide Trask Bridge where three people were trapped after their car flipped.- Advertisement – Fire Chief Glen Rogers says the team responded to the accident perfectly and everyone earned commendations from the department.Captain Jeff Williams, Captain Sara Jordan, Captain Robert Pugh, Lieutenant John Scull, firefighter Sam Proffitt, and volunteer firefighters Karli Smiraglia, Luke Parks, Bryan Dankanich, Tom Long and Dwayne Parnell all were honored.
Residents of Stoney Creek Plantation are forced to throw away furniture and belongings damaged in Hurricane Florence floods.(Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY) RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s governor is asking Congress for more federal funding to recover from Hurricane Florence, saying the total $8.8 billion requested is comparable to the help Washington has provided for other disasters since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday asked congressional budget-writers and the state’s congressional delegation to provide another $6.3 billion in federal recovery funds on top of the $2.5 billion already expected.- Advertisement – If approved, the federal funding would make up for about half the total $17 billion in damage from September’s historic rains and flooding.The state has already committed $850 million. The General Assembly this week is discussing a plan to spend $300 million of that money mostly to help rebuild damaged schools and compensate farmers whose crops and livestock were destroyed.