A note from the editor Please consider making a v

first_imgA 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… An activist whose local authority warns disabled people that it could take up to 12 weeks to renew their blue parking badges is calling for disabled people in other parts of the country to pass on their experiences of problems and delays in the system.It took Bob Williams-Findlay (pictured), a former chair of the British Council of Disabled People, more than six weeks to receive his new badge from Wolverhampton council, although he had been warned that it could take even longer.He believes such delays are “unacceptable” and are not restricted to his local authority, and that other applicants face even longer delays.Now he wants to hear from disabled people in other areas who have had similar problems*.Wolverhampton council admitted this week that it warns disabled people to expect it to take up to 12 weeks for their applications to be dealt with.Williams-Findlay pointed to a Disability News Service news story written nearly four years ago which described delays of up to 12 weeks in dealing with applications, and he said this showed little had changed around the country since then.The system was introduced by the coalition government in 2011 and saw councils told to carry out more independent mobility assessments, while the government introduced a national database of blue badges.The new electronic badges are sent out by a private contractor, Northgate Public Services, part of the Japanese IT multinational NEC Corporation.But councils kept responsibility for dealing with badge applications and had to source occupational therapists or other health professionals to carry out the assessments.Williams-Findlay said the current system was “oppressive, stressful and discriminatory” and the weeks he had been left without a badge had made his life “more disabling” because he had been deprived of “being able to park and participate within society”.He said the delays curtailed the rights of disabled people under article 19 (on independent living) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Williams-Findlay said the Department for Transport (DfT) was guilty of institutional discrimination and that the centralised part of the system was “not fit for practice”, while the delays were “unacceptable”.He left it too late to renew his badge and only applied to renew it a day or two before it expired, but he filled in the application form online on 28 September, taking written evidence to the council in person the same day.On 25 October, he received a letter – dated 18 October – which said his application had been successful, and that once he paid the £10 fee the council would order a new badge, which would take up to 21 days to arrive. His badge eventually arrived on 8 November.A DfT spokeswoman said the delays were “primarily a matter for local authorities, who are responsible for processing applications, and timescales do vary”.She added: “The department has not been made aware of any significant problems.”But she said the department was currently developing “an improved online application process”.She said: “There have been no problems with the private contractor, whose performance is monitored regularly.”A Wolverhampton council spokeswoman said: “Our advertised timescales are 12 weeks (from the time of receiving all relevant supporting documentation) for processing.”And she said the council website advises applicants to apply 10 weeks before their badge is due to expire.She said she understood that the badges were “very important” because “having a blue badge can significantly change a person’s independence, which motivates us to continue to improve our service by reviewing our processes and listening to feedback received from our customers”.She said the council had “recently updated its webpage to be clearer on the process and pre-requisites”, and that the government was updating the blue badge application form after consulting with users.Asked whether she believed delays were a national problem, she said: “Each council has a statutory duty to administer Blue Badges on behalf of the central government.“We are unable to comment on other councils.”Another disabled activist, Barbara Lisicki, a trainer and writer, has told Williams-Findlay that the renewal process in her London council area was “shoddy, unclear and utterly useless”.She said the centralised online system was “not fit for purpose, especially as it is misleading and gives incomplete, poorly phrased instructions”.If a local councillor had not intervened on her behalf to speed up the process, she would have been left unable to park in the accessible bay outside her house, she said.A third disabled activist has told Williams-Findlay that she was told by her local authority in the south of England to expect a 12-week wait for her blue badge.*Any disabled people with reports of problems or delays with renewing or applying for a blue badge can email Bob Williams-Findlay at baggiebob1@icloud.comlast_img read more

Activists have told a UN committee how the UK gove

first_imgActivists have told a UN committee how the UK government is failing to address the significant barriers and human rights violations faced by disabled women in accessing social security, justice, jobs and health services.Eleanor Lisney and Rachel O’Brien, from thedisabled women’s collective Sisters of Frida, were among UKwomen’s rights campaigners in Geneva this week to brief a UN committee ofwomen’s rights experts.Thecommittee was examining the UK on its progress in implementing the Conventionon the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).It is justthe latest in a series of examinations of the UK’s record on disabled people’srights by UN human rights bodies.LastNovember, theUN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor PhilipAlston, said the UK government hadinflicted “great misery” on disabled people and other marginalised groups, withministers in a state of “denial” about the impact of their policies.Theprevious year, the UN committee on the rights of persons withdisabilities told the UK government to make more than 80 improvements to theways its laws and policies affect disabled people’s human rights.Andin 2016, the same committee said the UK government wasguilty of “grave and systematic violations” of three key sections of the UNConvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, most of them caused byministers at the Department for Work and Pensions.In abriefing passed to the CEDAW committee – jointly prepared with Women EnabledInternational (WEI) – Sisters of Frida said research showed that abouta quarter of disabled women had missed a meal in the last year because theycould not afford it, while social security reforms had “disproportionatelyimpacted” disabled women.In 2017,more than a third of disabled women earned less than the national living wage,the briefing added.Sisters ofFrida also said that disabled women in the UK experience violence at higherrates than other women, because of both discrimination and economicdisempowerment. Nearly onein every two disabled women will experience domestic violence in theirlifetime, compared with about one in four of all women, while domestic violenceshelters and services for victims of violence remain inaccessible for disabledwomen.Disabledwomen also face significant barriers in accessing justice, with cases of sexualviolence significantly less likely to be referred by police for prosecution ifthe victim is a disabled woman, while laws and policies addressing violenceagainst women “routinely fail to include disabled women”.Sisters ofFrida – which received funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission(EHRC) to attend the examination of the UK government in Geneva – also warnedthe committee that disabled women faced increased barriers to accessinghealthcare, particularly maternal health services.Thecommittee was told that disabled women report “significant barriers” inaccessing “continuity of care during the prenatal period, a lack of controlduring labour and delivery, and inadequate postnatal care”.Followingthe briefings by campaigners, including Lisney and O’Brien, the committeequestioned UK government representatives about its implementation of CEDAW.Among theissues raised by the committee were the low employment rate for disabled women,the impact of universal credit on women, the failure to include disabled womenin sex education and the barriers faced by disabled women who experiencedomestic violence.O’Brien,disabled students’ officer for the National Union of Students but in Genevarepresenting Sisters of Frida, said afterwards: “Some of the issues we raisedwere about welfare reform and how that relates to domestic abuse, and the lackof access to justice for disabled women in the light of legal aid cuts,especially regarding benefit tribunals.”She said thegovernment’s response to the committee’s questions had been “poor, especiallyregarding the impact of universal credit on women and disabled people”.She said shehoped this would be reflected in the committee’s report.EHRC had alsosubmitted a report to the CEDAW committee, with recommendations forthe UK and Welsh governments.Its report raisedconcerns about the impact of the UK government’s legal aid cuts and reforms ondisabled women; called for action to close the disability pay gap; and calledon the UK government to assess the impact of its benefits sanctions regime ongroups including disabled people.It raisedconcerns about mental health services in prisons; the possibility of thegovernment’s community sentence pilot leading to compulsory treatment for womenwith mental health conditions; and access to healthcare for disabledasylum-seekers.  It alsocalled for action to eradicate the use of physical and chemical restraint inmental health settings, pointing out that “girls are more likely to bephysically restrained than boys, and women are more likely to be repeatedlyrestrained than men, including in a face-down position”.It said 32women have died after a restraint episode over the last five years after beingdetained under the Mental Health Act.EHRC alsocalled on the UK government to implement section 106 of the Equality Act, whichwould force political parties to publish data showing how many of theirparliamentary candidates are disabled people.It alsowants there to be work with political parties and other organisations “toimprove the reliability of support available to disabled women candidates, andlegislation to exempt costs arising from disabled candidates’ impairments fromstatutory limits on campaign expenditure”.In heropening statement to the CEDAW committee, the head of the UKdelegation, Elysia McCaffrey, the deputy head of the Government EqualitiesOffice, stressed the UK’s commitment to “advancing gender equality” and saidthe UK government planned to use the power of #MeToo and other campaigns to“strengthen” its compliance with the convention.She said thegovernment’s strategy on gender equality and economic empowerment, which willbe published this spring, would “seek to do more for low paid and financiallyfragile women, and women facing multiple barriers or with complex needs”.But she mentioned disabled women only once in her speech of more than 3,700 words, and that related to workplace equality funding introduced by the Scottish government.Picture by James Austin: Lisney (centre) and O’Brien (right) in Geneva with Vivienne Hayes from the Women’s Resource CentreA 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…last_img read more

GoBikes vandalized again in SFs Mission District

first_imgFor the second time in as many weeks, all of the rear tires of bicycles at the Ford GoBike station at 17th and Dolores streets are flat.Ford GoBike stations and cycles have been vandalized repeatedly in recent weeks after a dramatic expansion of the program, formerly known as Bay Area Bike Share. Photos circulated of one bike stripped and stashed in a tree in the Mission and another thrown in Lake Merritt.More formal opposition to the program has also emerged. A coalition of neighborhood groups in the Mission, calling itself United to Save the Mission, is asking for an economic impact study. One group in that coalition, the Calle 24 Latino Cultural Corridor, previously succeeded in booting bike-sharing from 24th Street.On 17th Street, too, the bike-share station has neighbors disgruntled – at least according to Edwin Mascaro, who works at the 17th Street Upholstery. The new station, which he said was installed completely without warning on a recent weekend, sits squarely in front of the upholstery shop, taking up several parking spaces. “The neighbors got pretty upset, because they didn’t notify anyone. It happened all on the weekend, the next day it was installed,” Mascaro said. “We’ve been here 30 years. We’ve never had these kinds of issues.”Mascaro said the business has reached out to Motivate, the company that runs the bike-share program (Ford is a financial sponsor, not the operator) to see about getting the station moved at least a few feet toward the corner, which could free up one parking spot.For its part, Motivate maintains that local businesses are contacted before a station is installed — and that it has met with the proprietor of 17th Street Upholstery to discuss whether any changes to the station might be made.Stations are required by city permitting to be set back from the crosswalk a certain amount, said Motivate’s Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, but the case is under review.“Our team is working really, really hard to make sure that the bikes are in good working order and that the stations are clean,” he said. “We’re responding as fast as we can.”By Monday afternoon, they had fixed the bikes at 17th and Dolores. Staff also work to relocate bikes to stations as they empty out so a ride is always available.Motivate has around 100 staff members who help maintain the system and keep the stations stocked with usable bikes, Cosulich-Schwartz said. About 6,000 people around the Bay Area are Motivate bike-share users, taking 2,500 daily trips on an average weekday. Motivate has seen ridership grow 35% week over week through the expansion. 0%center_img Tags: bikes Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

THE RFL has appointed Brian Barwick as its new Cha

first_imgTHE RFL has appointed Brian Barwick as its new Chairman.He will take up the position as non-Executive Chairman on Friday (February 1) and brings a wealth of experience in sport and broadcasting to the role, having held a number of senior positions including, Chief Executive of the Football Association, Controller of Sport at ITV and a number of key roles within the BBC, including Head of Television Sport.Welcoming the appointment, RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood said: “I am delighted that we have been able to attract a sports administrator of Brian’s calibre. His track record speaks for itself.“Brian’s considerable experience will help us take the game forward as Rugby League prepares to embark on the most important year in its history with a competitive Super League, a new-look Championships and, of course, the Rugby League World Cup in England and Wales this autumn.”Mr Barwick will formally take up his new position on February 1 and attended his first meeting of the RFL’s independent Board of Directors today.Brian Barwick said: “I am absolutely delighted to accept the position as the new Chairman of the RFL. Rugby League is a sport I have a genuine respect and affection for and I am determined to spread the word about what a great sport Rugby League is, especially at this exciting time when we host the Rugby League World Cup in England Wales.“The RFL is a widely respected governing body, with an exceptionally strong management team which has produced outstanding results over the last decade and I am very much looking forward to joining the Board and working with my new colleagues to take this great game forward.”Commenting on the contribution Maurice Watkins has made to the RFL in his capacity as Interim Chairman, Nigel Wood said: “I want to pay tribute to the excellent work that Maurice Watkins has done as our Interim Chairman.“Maurice is a man of outstanding competence, integrity and independence and I am very pleased he is continuing on the independent board for the rest of his term of office.”Brian Barwick was Chief Executive of the Football Association from 2005 to 2008 where he saw through the completion of the new Wembley Stadium, launched the Respect campaign and was involved in the appointment of England’s senior coach on two occasions. He was also a board member of Wembley Stadium Ltd and FIFA’s Legal Committee and UEFA’s National Teams Committee.At ITV he was responsible for all ITV Sports coverage, including the 1998 FIFA World Cup during which the highest audience in ITV’s broadcasting history was achieved (28 million people for the England v Argentina World Cup tie).From 1979-1998 Brian Barwick held a range of senior roles within BBC Sport. He was responsible for award-winning coverage of the BBC Sport television portfolio, including the summer and winter Olympics, FIFA World Cups and outstanding national events like the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final, Wimbledon, the Open Golf, the Grand National and the FA Cup Final. He was Editor of Match of the Day from 1987-1995.Brian Barwick studied economics at Liverpool University and began his career as a reporter on the North West Evening Mail in Barrow. He is married with two sons.He currently holds a number of posts including a visiting Professorship of Strategic Leadership at The School of Management at Liverpool University. He is the founding partner of Barwick Media and Sport, a global sport and media consultancy.last_img read more

Water advisory continues for some areas day after Brunswick County water main

first_imgBrunswick County said the shaded area of the map is still under a system pressure advisory on Aug. 9, 2017. (Photo: Brunswick County) BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A system pressure advisory is still in effect for some customers a day after a water main break in Brunswick County.In a news release, the county says it has some, but not all, test results of water samples collected on yesterday after a break in a 24-inch water main in Shallotte that caused periods of low or no water pressure in the southern end of Brunswick County.- Advertisement – A system pressure advisory remains in effect for customers in areas off Old Georgetown Road, Sandpiper Road SW and Sunset Blvd North/Beach Drive SW until further written notice, pending the receipt of all water sample test results.Periods of low or no pressure in the distribution system increase the potential for back siphonage and introduction of bacteria into the water system. Therefore, Brunswick County Public Utilities and the Division of Water Resources advise that consumers in areas off Old Georgetown Road, Sandpiper Road SW and Sunset Blvd North/Beach Drive SW boil all water used for human consumption (including drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation) or use bottled water.Vigorous boiling for one minute should kill any disease-causing organisms that may be present in the water.Related Article: FBI concerned by money mules roped into fraud schemesBased on laboratory analysis of the water samples that have been received, Brunswick County Public Utilities water users in the area of Shallotte, Carolina Shores, Calabash, Ash and the islands of Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach are hereby notified that it is no longer necessary to boil water or use bottled water for human consumption. The system in the area of Shallotte, Carolina Shores, Calabash, Ash and the islands of Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach has resumed normal operations.Water may have a milky or white appearance. This is caused by air in the lines and is not cause for concern. This should go away as water is flushed through pipes.last_img read more

Developments for downtown Wilmington growing despite vacant buildings

first_img Downtown Wilmington is full of businesses and is constantly seeing changes. But there are currently five large vacant buildings that people hope to see filled soon.One downtown business owner said she only wants to see the city thrive.“I think there’s a lot of possibility there and it’s all like a story of historic downtown, but I don’t think they’re an eye sore. I just want them to be used and I want them to kind of have a new purpose,” store owner Jess Reedy said.Related Article: Work begins on Wilmington riverfront bulkhead repairsWolverton said there is a lot in the works for the future of the town.“$385-million worth of projects that have been completed announced or underway since 2013. So downtown is growing exponentially we are excited about what the future holds for our community,” Wolverton said.Store front space on Front Street is hard to come by, so why are these buildings vacant? Wolverton said it could be because of aesthetics and the cost to repair the older structures.“We have vacant buildings in town especially some that are coupled with some very obvious aesthetics and building deficiencies. Those are a biting influence on the area,” Wolverton said.There are plans in the works for some of the empty buildings and empty lots.Developer Gene Merritt plans to put a two story building at Second and Market.“We’re going to grow. I think people want to live here, they want to visit here, they want to retire here, and we are a place people want to be,” Merritt said.There will be an event hosted by WDI on downtown growth Thursday. Investors like Merritt will discuss development trends and future projects. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Store front businesses are not hard to find in downtown Wilmington, but there are five large vacant buildings that are also easy to spot.“Downtown really is a mix used center so we have a wide variety of activities and people,” Wilmington Downtown Incorporated President Ed Wolverton said.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Freeman Park closed until further notice after property owner makes changes

first_img Town staff has alerted CAMA and say they are looking into the situation.Cramer says because of the obstructions and to reduce the likelihood of accidents at night Freeman park is closed until further notice.The Freeman Park Committee will be meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Conference Room. Freeman Park (Photo: Helen Holt/WWAY) CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Carolina Beach Town Manager Michael Cramer says activities at Freeman Park could be a public safety hazard which has forced the area to be closed.He says representatives from the Freeman Beach LLC, who own private property, installed posts, rope and sea oats plantings which encroach on the area of historical public beach.- Advertisement – last_img

Athletes Swing into Spring at annual tennis tournament

first_img The Executive Director Lou Welch said the athletes love being a part of the tournaments and it is a great way to get everyone active. But the main goal is for everyone to have fun.“I always say until I took this job, I’ve never seen a tennis player run to the net to high-five their opponent after just being aced or hitting a great shot, so it’s being happy for other people. This place is filled with joy,” Welch said.There were close to 50 athletes competing this year making this one of the biggest turnouts yet. This is a state-wide organization and the next tournament will be held in Winston-Salem. 8th Annual Swing into Spring tennis tournament (Photo: Jenna Kurzyna/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — One group hosted their 8th Annual Swing into Spring Tennis Tournament this weekend. It offered opportunities at all levels for individuals with intellectual disabilities.Abilities Tennis is an organization that serves children and adults with intellectual disabilities and provides them an opportunity to participate in sports.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Evacuation order continues in Kelly as water keeps rising

first_img Please contact 911 if you need to evacuate and cannot do so safely.Stay tuned to your local and social media channels for updates. BLADEN COUNTY, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — The evacuation order is still in effect for the Kelly area residents as roads are impassible by passenger vehicles. Although the water levels around the Rowan community are dropping, the Cape Fear River water levels at Lock and Dam #1 are continuing to rise and are expected to continue to flood at historic levels within the Kelly area.Residents are encouraged to evacuate and to avoid travel to Kelly.- Advertisement – last_img

North Carolina orders Duke Energy to excavate all coal ash

first_imgRALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The country’s largest electric company was ordered Monday to excavate coal ash from all of its North Carolina power plant sites, slashing the risk of toxic chemicals leaking into water supplies but potentially adding billions of dollars to the costs consumers pay.Duke Energy Corp. must remove the residue left after decades of burning coal to produce electricity, North Carolina’s environmental agency said. The company had proposed covering some storage pits with a waterproof cap, saying that would prevent rain from passing through and carrying chemicals through the unlined bottoms and would provide a quicker and cheaper option.- Advertisement – Coal ash contains toxic metals like mercury, lead and arsenic.Monday’s decision affects six coal-burning plants still operating in North Carolina. Pits at eight other power plants around the state had previously been ordered excavated, with the ash to be stored away from waterways.The move means North Carolina joins Virginia and South Carolina in ordering its major electric utilities to move their coal ash out of unlined storage.Related Article: GOP lawmakers want civil rights panel appointment withdrawn“The science points us clearly to excavation as the only way to protect public health and the environment,” state Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan said in a prepared statement.A 2008 spill in Tennessee drew national attention to coal ash storage. Cleanup became a priority in North Carolina after a 2014 leak from a Duke Energy site left coal ash coating 70 miles (110 kilometers) of the Dan River on the state’s border with Virginia.Duke Energy pleaded guilty in 2015 to federal environmental crimes after an investigation found the company allowed coal ash dumps at five power plants to leak toxic waste into water supplies. The company agreed to pay $102 million in fines and restitution.Last year, Duke Energy agreed to pay a $156,000 penalty for similar state environmental violations at three other power plants after pollution entered groundwater and the adjoining Catawba and Broad rivers.The company didn’t immediately respond to the agency’s announcement Monday or offer current cost projections of fully excavating its North Carolina sites.Duke Energy projected in 2014 that it could cost $7 billion to $10 billion and take up to 30 years to excavate and move away from rivers and lakes all the ash collected at the 14 current and former coal-burning plants in the state.State utilities regulators last year set a precedent in deciding that Duke Energy’s two North Carolina divisions could charge ratepayers the first $778 million chunk of a cleanup the company had projected to cost about $5 billion.But the same North Carolina Utilities Commission assessed the company a $70 million mismanagement penalty, finding that Duke Energy’s “irresponsible management” of its ash pits” resulted in cost increases greater than those necessary to adequately maintain and operate its facilities.”State Attorney General Josh Stein said last year he will try to stop Duke Energy from passing along its cleanup costs to 3.4 million North Carolina power customers, arguing that corporate mismanagement increased costs that shareholders should also be forced to bear.Charlotte-based Duke Energy has 7.6 million electricity customers in the Carolinas, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.last_img read more