Campaigners have called on the transport secretary

first_imgCampaigners have called on the transport secretary to ignore recommendations from the head of Network Rail that would delay tens of millions of pounds of investment in making rail stations more accessible.The seven organisations, headed by the user-led charity Transport for All, are furious that Sir Peter Hendy (pictured), the chair of Network Rail, has recommended in a spending review that nearly £50 million allocated to the Access for All scheme should be delayed until 2019 at the earliest.In a letter to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, they describe such a move as “a real backward step in terms of rail accessibility” and “grossly unfair”.The government describes Access for All funding as “a key part of the government’s strategy to improve the accessibility of Great Britain’s railway (sic)”, and says it is “specifically targeted at providing infrastructure improvements at stations which will enable more disabled people to access the rail network”.The letter follows revelations by Disability News Service last month that Sir Peter had recommended that Access for All funding for 2014-19 should be cut from £102 million to £55 million, with the rest carried over to the next spending period, 2019-24.The Department for Transport is due to respond to Sir Peter’s report – which contains his detailed recommendations for “replanning” Network Rail’s investment programme for 2014-19 across England and Wales – later this year.The letter has been signed by leaders of Transport for All; Inclusion London; Disabled People Against Cuts; Disability Rights UK; RNIB; Muscular Dystrophy UK; and the Campaign for Better Transport.They say in the letter that more than 20 years have passed since disabled people secured rights to access goods and services through the Disability Discrimination Act, yet “still many of us cannot use our local train station”.They point out that a large majority of stations still do not have lifts, tactile paving, audio-visual information, induction loops and other equipment that enables disabled people to use them, and so “great swathes of the UK rail network are no go areas for disabled people, particularly those with mobility impairments”.They say that the Access for All fund has delivered “much needed ring fenced funding to ameliorate this situation and over the years has unlocked parts of the rail network for disabled and older citizens to use, in many cases for the first time”.And they say the deferred funding is part of a “double blow” because of the government’s decision to scrap the small schemes access programme, which had funded improvements to 1,100 stations since it was launched in 2006, and was “crucial for smaller stations that would have never qualified for Access for All funding”.They also warn that deferring the funding could put at risk future additional investment in improving access.The seven organisations call on McLoughlin in the letter to reject Sir Peter’s recommendation and instead “guarantee that the Access for All fund will be able to retain and spend its full allocated budget”.Faryal Velmi, director of Transport for All, said: “We need access improvements to happen by 2019 as they were originally planned and expected.“It is grossly unfair that disabled and older people are being asked to defer our lives for another five years in order to ‘iron out’ previous Network Rail inefficiencies.“Austerity has already had a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people in UK.“Changes and deferments to schemes such as Access for All, that directly benefit us, constitute a direct attack on our rights to participate fully in society.”Network Rail refused to explain why Sir Peter made the recommendations to defer the Access for All funding, and refused to respond to the concerns raised in the letter.But a Network Rail spokesman said: “Following the conclusion of the Department for Transport’s consultation [on the Hendy review], we will work closely with the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail and Road to review the Access for All programme and publish a revised delivery plan.”He added: “Sir Peter Hendy’s re-plan means that some rail upgrade projects will be delivered later than originally planned, but we remain committed to delivering the Access for All programme in full.”last_img read more

For nine years Disability News Service has surviv

first_imgFor nine years, Disability News Service has survived largely through the support of a small number of disability organisations – most of them user-led – that have subscribed to its weekly supply of news stories. That support has been incredibly valuable but is no longer enough to keep DNS financially viable. For this reason, please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support its work and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please remember 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… A new rail station being built as part of a multi-billion pound regeneration programme will not enable wheelchair-users to board trains without the help of staff and a ramp, disabled campaigners have warned.Brent Cross West Thameslink is being built as part of the £4.5 billion Cricklewood Brent Cross development in north-west London, a partnership between Barnet council and the private sector.But current plans for the station, which is due to open in 2022, are that it will be step-free from the entrance to the platform, but not from the platform to the train.This appears to be because building the higher platforms necessary for wheelchair-users to board trains without manual ramps and assistance would mean freight trains would have to slow down when passing those higher platforms.Campaigners believe that although most freight trains will pass through the station’s dedicated freight platform, some will be routed through passenger platforms, and it could delay the passenger services behind them if they are forced to slow down.The controversy could prove embarrassing for Govia Thameslink Railway, the company which will run Thameslink services through the station.Two months ago, the company faced protests after issuing guidance – which it later rescinded – telling station staff that they should not attempt to place “persons of reduced mobility” on a train “if there is a possibility of delaying the service”.Its Thameslink services are driver-only operated and many of them run without any other staff on board.This means that any assistance for wheelchair-users who want to disembark from a train at the new station on these services will have to rely on station staff and the use of a manual ramp.Govia said details on the station plans would have to come from the council or Network Rail.But a Govia spokeswoman said: “This is set to be a fully staffed station from the first to the last train, meaning that there will be someone available to support people embarking/disembarking at all times.”She said the platforms “have to be built to cater to the wide variety of trains that pass through the station.“In central London, the stations which have platform humps only have one class of train passing through so can cater specifically to that type of train.”But access campaigner and wheelchair-user Ruth Bailey, who lives near the site of the new station, said: “Shouldn’t there be a debate as to why occasional disruption justifies compromising routine, full, step-free access for wheelchair-using passengers?“What is possible starts with a mindset. The regeneration project involves many engineering feats from building bridges to changing the course of rivers. “Given the money and expertise this requires, can it really be impossible to find a way to raise and lower a wheelchair-user 10 to 20 centimetres?”Alan Benson, chair of Transport for All, the user-led organisation which campaigns for an accessible transport system in London, said: “Disabled and older people deserve the same right to access transport as everyone else and this means the freedom to be as independent as they wish.“This principle is accepted by both government and across the industry, but the argument is always that retro fitting a 150-year-old railway is expensive and will take time.“It is a scandal therefore when once-in-a-lifetime projects such as this are not delivered with step-free access to the train from day one.“We see many examples in the UK and abroad where either good design or technology provide fully step-free solutions, yet the industry continues to see access to the platform only as a goal to be reached rather than a minimum to start from.“With the increasing push to cut costs, reduce staffing levels and introduce ‘driver only operation’ trains we are seeing disabled and older people being denied access to the railway on a daily basis.“This will only get worse between now and this station opening in 2022.”Benson added: “It’s time for a clarion call to those responsible to seize this one-off opportunity to build a future-proofed, fully inclusive station fit for 21st century Britain, not something that is an echo of a bygone era.”Barnet council, which is delivering Brent Cross West in partnership with Network Rail, has secured outline planning permission for the plans, with a detailed planning application due to be submitted this summer.A Brent council spokesman declined to say why the plans do not currently allow for step-free access from pavement to train.But he said in a statement: “We welcome residents’ participation in the consultation for the new Brent Cross West Thameslink station and would encourage others to submit their views.“The planning application for the proposed station will be submitted later this year, when it will be considered by committee members.“If the application is approved, the delivery team will then start to look at the more detailed elements of the station design.“Part of this will include looking beyond the current provision of step-free access from pavement to platform, to include step-free access from platform to train for passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility, as well as passengers travelling with prams.”A Network Rail spokesman said: “This project is being led by Barnet council, who have carried out the initial design process.“Network Rail is a delivery partner, carrying out work on their behalf.”He declined to comment on the concerns around step-free access.Picture: An artist’s impression of the new stationlast_img read more

Labour has vowed to end the perfect storm create

first_imgLabour has vowed to end the “perfect storm” created by the Tory government of “low pay, insecurity and working poverty”, which is “causing terrible stress for millions of families across the country”.According to new House of Commons library analysis, almost 13 million adults in the UK’s working households have no savings.This figure has increased by 2.5 million since the Conservatives took power in 2010, and by more than one million between 2015, when the Tory-Lib Dem coalition ended, and 2017.The news comes after the Office of National Statics revealed that household debt has been growing over the last six years, and has now reached 133% of income.With fresh research findings, Labour now knows that its plan to implement a living wage of £10 an hour as the national living wage in 2020 would award the lowest paid workers in the country with a pay rise of £2,640.Jeremy Corbyn, who will highlight these issues during a visit to Worcester Housing and Benefit Advice Centre on Thursday, commented: “With real wages lower than they were ten years ago, deep cuts to social security, rising borrowing just to make ends meet and the growth of insecure work, the Conservatives have created a perfect storm of low pay, insecurity and working poverty.The Labour leader added: “This rising insecurity, with so many without savings to fall back on, is causing terrible stress for millions of families across the country.“These scandalous levels of in-work poverty are unacceptable and must be brought to an end. Every job should provide dignity and security.“That’s why the next Labour government will introduce a Real Living Wage putting over £2,600 per year more in the pockets of around 6 million low paid workers, stop the roll out of Universal Credit and ban zero-hours contracts.”Tags:Labour /Jeremy Corbyn /last_img read more

WE will be making a presentation to Paul Wellens b

first_imgWE will be making a presentation to Paul Wellens before kick off on Sunday.Mr St Helens retired this week and the club will mark the occasion on the pitch before Saints’ Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Quarter Final with Widnes.The action gets underway at 4pm with ‘Wello’ on the pitch from around 3.40pm.Make sure you’re in your ‘spec’ well in time for the presentation!last_img

HAVE you checked out our Official YouTube Channel

first_imgHAVE you checked out our Official YouTube Channel recently?We have an exclusive interview with Jonny Lomax about our home opener and his hopes for the new season as well as other great pre-season content.Highlights include our pre-season camps at Altcar, Formby and Cassius and some great matches from yesteryear.Simply click the link and enjoy lots of FREE content – Official Youtube Channel.Don’t forget to follow us on our Official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites too.They are the places to be for up to the minute news, views and opinion from around the Saints as well as little snippets of information, ticket details, competitions, great pictures and debate and the occasional juicy exclusive too – including the very latest from all the Club’s press conferences.And you can interact with like-minded fans from all over the world.You can also follow matches live on our social media platforms and comment as the tries and goals fly over.We have also launched on Snapchat too – check us out here.#saintsasonelast_img read more

EC coordinating safe port for 64 asylum seekers

first_img SharePrint Fabian Heinz/sea-eye.orgFabian Heinz/ 64 asylum seekers that were rescued off the Libyan coast by NGO vessel Alan Kurdi remain without a safe port with the European Commission stepping in to provide a central point to coordinate among Member States. The vessel Alan Kurdi is in Maltese international waters, is informed.A spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister told that the vessel was coordinating with Germany and said that Germany ‘has directed the vessel towards Palma de Mallorca’, a claim that was denied by a spokesperson for the non-governmental organisation Sea-Eye.On Wednesday Alan Kurdi rescued 64 asylum seekers while another boat which was carrying some 50 asylum seekers was never found.READ: 64 asylum seekers rescued by Sea-Eye off the Libyan coast‘Another case highlighting the importance of predictable arrangements for disembarkation’ – has contacted the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs. A spokesperson for the Commission confirmed that the it has been following the events unfolding and has been requested to provide a central point to coordinate among Member States.The spokesperson for the Commissioner explained that the Commission is now initiating contacts to support and coordinate amongst those Member States which are willing to take part in solidarity efforts concerning the persons on board the Alan Kurdi. The spokesperson reiterated that this is another example which illustrated the how urgent predictable arrangements for disembarkation are.Sea-Eye aborts evacuation as Italy insists on separating familiesOn Friday a medical evacuation was aborted after the Italian authorities insisted that they would only evacuate two children and their mothers, effectively separating two families from their fathers. When the respective families were asked they expressed their wish not to be separated from their fathers and therefore the evacuation was aborted.Jan Ribbeck, Sea-Eye’s Head of Operations repeatedly requested the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome not to separate the families and asked for six people corresponding to two families to be safely disembarked.The NGO in a statement lambasted the Italian Home Affairs Minister from the far-right party Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini, saying that the Minister not only humiliated the rescued but ‘instrumentalises everything and everyone’ in order to score political goals which suited him.Salvini on his part has been bickering about the situation on Twitter, after the asylum seekers refused to be separated from their family members, the Italian Minister ‘wished them a good journey onward.’WhatsApp <a href=’” alt=”last_img” /> read more