Disability charities are facing questions over why they helped the government disguise the reason it had to change “discriminatory” guidance that was preventing thousands of disabled people with invisible impairments from securing blue parking badges.The Department for Transport (DfT) announced this week that it was proposing alterations to guidance that would “herald the most significant changes since the blue badge was introduced in 1970” and would “remove barriers to travel for people with conditions such as dementia and autism” in England.Junior transport minister Jesse Norman claimed this “accords with the government’s manifesto commitment to give parity of esteem to mental and physical health conditions”.The changes were welcomed enthusiastically by non-user-led disability charities such as Scope and the National Autistic Society (NAS), with NAS even quoted in DfT’s own press release, and they were widely supported by the mainstream media, including the Guardian, the Mirror and the BBC.But what they and Norman failed to mention was that the changes had been forced on the government by a legal action taken on behalf of an autistic man with learning difficulties.David* had had a blue badge for 30 years but was told by his local council that he no longer qualified because of new DfT rules**.His family took legal action against DfT and his local council because of new guidance issued by DfT in October 2014, following the introduction of the government’s new personal independence payment (PIP) the previous year.DfT was forced to settle the judicial review claim 15 months ago, by agreeing to review the new blue badge guidance.It was that review that led to the government’s announcement this week that it was consulting on changes to the blue badge scheme.Louise Whitfield, a solicitor with civil rights and judicial review experts Deighton Pierce Glynn, said she was “extremely surprised at the way in which the government is presenting the consultation”.She said: “The main reason that people with those conditions have been excluded from blue badge eligibility is because of the changes that the government deliberately made to the blue badge criteria when they introduced PIP to replace disability living allowance (DLA).“This meant that people who automatically had a blue badge before because of the DLA they received (higher rate mobility component), were no longer automatically eligible because they did not get enough points under the ‘moving around’ PIP criteria.“This problem was compounded by the inadequate DfT guidance, leading many local authorities to decide that people with non-physical disabilities were not entitled to a blue badge, and would never be entitled, because they did not have the right kind of disability to meet the criteria.“We have successfully challenged a number of these decisions, but there must be thousands of people who should have had blue badges but didn’t because of the change in the criteria coupled with the unclear guidance.”She highlighted the government’s failure to carry out an equality impact assessment of the blue badge eligibility changes and the new guidance before they were introduced in 2014.Such an assessment would have shown that thousands of people with invisible impairments were set to lose their right to a blue badge, with London Councils estimating that 3,500 people fell into this category in the capital.Whitfield said: “It is also somewhat disingenuous of the government to present the consultation on the new proposals as if this had been all of their own making, when in fact many organisations, individuals and legal representatives on their behalf have been trying to get the government to undertake a review since the change in the blue badge criteria several years ago.”She added: “We have repeatedly chased the government and their solicitors for updates on the review and have been told very little over the last 15 months.“Nor have they had the courtesy to inform me or my client that the consultation is now underway. The last time we chased them they didn’t even respond. “Sadly, my client who brought the judicial review has now passed away, but I will be encouraging all my other clients to respond to the consultation making clear how devastating it has been for them to lose their existing badge and then have to battle for months, if not years, to get it reinstated just so that they can leave their home.”The Department for Transport (DfT) accepted that it had faced a legal challenge over the regulations when they were changed, but failed to answer a series of questions, including whether it had failed to carry out an equality impact assessment on the 2014 changes; why it failed to tell Deighton Pierce Glynn about the new consultation; and why it failed to mention the legal challenge in its press release and consultation document.In a statement, a DfT spokesman said: “Blue badges give people with disabilities the freedom to get jobs, see friends or go to the shops with as much ease as possible.“We want to try to extend this to people with invisible disabilities, so they can enjoy the freedom to get out and about, where and when they want.”An NAS spokeswoman admitted that it had “focused on the good news” in its statement on the government announcement.She claimed NAS had opposed the government’s decision to link blue badge entitlement in England to only the “moving around” part of PIP mobility and had “raised this issue at the time and have continued to raise this issue since”.She said its concern had always been “broader than the link with PIP” and that its “underlying aim has been to change the blue badge rules because it has always been a real struggle for those with a hidden disability to get one” and that “not very many autistic people ever qualified for higher rate mobility of DLA to get that automatic entitlement”.She said NAS had not been “directly involved” with the legal case.She added: “The government’s proposals go beyond that change and so are likely to ensure that more autistic children and adults who need a blue badge can get one and won’t first need to access DLA or PIP.”*Not his real name**The guidance currently states that it is only those who qualify for the standard or enhanced mobility rates of PIP under the “moving around” criteria – those with physical impairments that mean they cannot walk very far – who should automatically qualify for a blue badge.Those who qualify for the PIP enhanced mobility rate because they have problems planning and following journeys are no longer automatically entitled to a blue badge, as they were if they claimed the upper mobility rate of DLA for the same reasons.The updated blue badge application form included in the guidance document has no sections in which disabled people with problems planning and following journeys can provide evidence to show why they need a blue badge.Authorities in Scotland and Wales have already made changes aimed at addressing the problems with DfT’s guidance.
The equality watchdog is failing disabled people by attempting to “mainstream” disability and treat it the same way as the other eight characteristics protected by the Equality Act, peers have warned.The House of Lords was debating the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s decision that it no longer needed a disability commissioner, and to scrap its statutory disability committee and replace it with a new disability advisory committee.The debate was secured by the disabled Tory peer Lord [Kevin] Shinkwin, who quit the commission in December over what he saw as the collusion of former women and equalities minister Justine Greening with EHRC’s decision to scrap the disability commissioner role.Lord Shinkwin (pictured) had refused to attend EHRC board meetings after his appointment in protest at the decision to appoint him as a general commissioner instead of the disability commissioner role he had applied for.He told fellow peers that disabled people were “nowhere near attaining equality” with members of other protected characteristics.He said; “The goal of equality might be the same, but the nature and extent of the disadvantage that goes with disability are so different that while mainstreaming disability might sound laudable in theory, in practice it means that disability, as the heaviest stone, falls to the bottom of the inequality pond.”He said this was why EHRC needed the “sharp focus on disability issues” provided by a disability commissioner.And he criticised the government for failing to speak out about Greening’s involvement in abolishing the role.He said: “Of course, I think there is a strong case for a disability commissioner, otherwise I would not have applied for the position.“But now it has been abolished, the case that the government need to make is why disabled people should trust them when they cannot even bring themselves to express regret for the involvement of a former minister in the abolition of disabled people’s last powerful voice.”The disabled Liberal Democrat peer, Baroness [Celia] Thomas, said that if disabled people were asked if they would prefer a statutory disability committee chaired by a disabled commissioner or just an advisory committee and all the EHRC commissioners having a duty to oversee the disability agenda, she was “pretty sure they would go for the former”.She said: “The reason is simple: as we have heard, so much of life, public and private, is denied to disabled people even now and there are still so many battles to be fought… they would want the strongest voice possible to get things changed.”She added: “We need somebody shouting the odds from the rooftops on our behalf.“Disabled people want a body that will not rest until it has brought about real change – not a body that has all the right words but not enough action.”Baroness Deech, the crossbench peer who chaired a Lords committee that investigated the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on disabled people, said that it was “not enough to treat disabled people equally with everyone else” and that “mainstreaming” disability “has not worked, so far”.She said: “There are situations where, to get to a level playing field, disabled people need favourable treatment, a concept with which employers struggle.“Witnesses to our committee thought that the inclusion of disability within the EHRC had diluted the focus on disability that had existed and had given rise to a sense of a loss of rights by disabled people.”She said her committee’s report recommended that EHRC’s disability committee “should be re-established as a decision-making body with ring-fenced resources”.She said that disabled people wanted “a champion, not to be just one of nine protected characteristic groups, and that call has not been answered”.Another disabled peer, the Liberal Democrat Lord Addington, asked if there was any evidence that the commission’s new approach was working better.He said: “I ask because that approach is not one that is reassuring to the huge and diverse disability communities.”But Baroness Prosser, a Labour peer and former EHRC deputy chair, defended the commission’s strategy.She said: “In recognition of the fact that all other issues under the commission’s remit were dealt with in the mainstream debate, the board of the commission took the view that disability would best be dealt with in the same way and therefore it would no longer seek a commissioner with that narrow remit.”Baroness Gale, Labour’s shadow spokeswoman on women and equalities, said she was “not so sure” that a case could be made for a separate disability commissioner, as it could lead to calls for a separate commissioner for the other eight protected characteristics.She said the commission’s briefing for the debate said that “it believes that the changes it has made were designed to strengthen, rather than weaken, its approach to advancing the rights of people with disabilities”.Baroness Williams, a Home Office minister, said the commission recognises the “particular rights and protections for disabled people” under the Equality Act through its new disability advisory committee.And she said the disability commissioner role was “not a statutory post but simply an EHRC-created role: a set of responsibilities connected to the former disability committee that the commission decided to change as part of its overhaul of its disability arrangements”.She said her understanding was that Lord Shinkwin had been appointed “as a commissioner, not specifically as a disability commissioner” and she said that “any decision to give EHRC commissioners specific roles and responsibilities is a direct matter for the EHRC”.She added: “I assure him that the new EHRC arrangements work better for disabled people than the old ones.”Baroness Williams said EHRC believed that its previous approach treated work on disability “separately from other work programmes”, led to “work on disability being seen as the responsibility of specific individuals in the commission rather than the collective responsibility of the board and the organisation as a whole”, and “led to some miscommunication as well as missed opportunities”.
7. Switching to an anti-Brexit position may not be enough to win back Remainers.“It is not obvious, from the evidence of local elections and Peterborough, that a more “pro Remain” position from Labour would in itself win back voters currently lost to the Liberal Democrats, or in a numerical enough way that would offset Leave voters in many of the key marginals, that have lost both recently and over the last few general elections.”8. Switching to an anti-Brexit position may not be worth the risk. According to the report, the top 50 local authority shares of the vote for the Lib Dems included four marginal seats that Labour needs to win at the next election: Cities of London & Westminster, Putney, Watford, Wimbledon.4. And these are the key Leave seats to worry about. The briefing says that the top 50 council shares of the vote for the Brexit Party include 14 Labour-held seats: Hartlepool, Great Grimsby, Ashfield, Redcar, Bolsover, Barnsley Central, Barnsley East, Penistone & Stocksbridge, Wentworth & Dearne, Dudley North, Bassetlaw, Scunthorpe, Stoke-on-Trent Central, Stoke-on-Trent North.It also comprised three marginal seats that were lost by Labour in 2017: Mansfield, Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland and Stoke-on-Trent South.5. Labour’s non-metropolitan vote continues to decline.Both local and European elections provided further evidence of “instability and fragmentation of Labour’s vote in non-metropolitan Britain, including the industrial communities which comprised Labour’s heartland at least until the 1980s”, the report outlines.It says this trend can be traced back to 1987 and 1992. However, the briefing states: “In the last three general elections, differential swings have been exacerbated, particularly with the collapse of the Lib Dems in the 2015 election.” “It remains the case that there are more target and defensive seats in the Midlands and North of England which voted leave. The recent elections don’t suggest any change to this basic arithmetic, given the geographical distribution of Leave and Remain voters. There is an evident risk that shifting to a more explicitly pro-Remain position would leave us vulnerable in seats we need to hold or win without enough potential seat gains in winnable Remain majority areas.” 6. The Peterborough result suggests voters could ‘come home’ to the main parties.“Labour’s victory in the by-election was partly thanks to an increased turnout, with 10,000 additional voters compared with the European election. Overall however some of the European election switchers must have switched back to the two major parties, a tentative indication that the European election should not be taken as a precursor of potential general election behaviour.” LabourList has seen the shadow cabinet briefing written by party strategists in full. The document, which is being discussed by opposition frontbenchers at a special Brexit meeting today, covers the recent local elections, European elections and current polling of voting intentions. It particularly focuses on how Brexit played a role in the results and how Labour should respond. Here are eight key points made in the report.1. The Tories were lucky they didn’t do worse in the local elections.“It isn’t clear what difference might have been made had the Brexit Party in particular stood large numbers of candidates, but what is certainly true is that had there been more independent and minor parties available for people to vote for the Tory losses would have been much greater.”2. Lib Dem gains in the local elections were not down to Brexit… “There is some correlation with areas with high percentages of 2016 Remain voting but this is at best a partial explanation of their performance. Actually the best pointer to a strong Lib Dem performance in the local elections was their electoral success in the past. Almost all of the councils where the made most of their gains were places where they had an established political and organisational presence.”3. … but Lib Dems wins in the European elections were down to Brexit.“Liberal Democrat support correlated strongly with Remain voting in 2016, especially when Scotland (where they were competing with the Scottish National Party for Remain votes) is not included. Brexit Party support was even more strongly correlated with Leave voting, and (positively) with 2014 UKIP support. Turnout was also correlated with Remain support, i.e. the higher the 2016 Remain vote the higher turnout tended to be.”4. On the basis of the European election results, these are the key Remain seats to worry about. Tags:Labour /Brexit /Local elections 2019 /European elections 2019 /
The Planning Commission recommended the neighborhood preference measure to the Board, but also requested that supervisors consider changing the neighborhood boundaries that define who gets preference so as to keep displaced tenants as close to their former homes as possible. Board of Supervisors president London Breed addressed the commissioners to encourage them to expand the percentage of affordable housing that should go to locals. “I want to make sure that when I’m pushing to build more affordable housing in in the city that [constituents] have the right to access this housing,” Breed said. But even in a city of 49 square miles, figuring out who gets preference for affordable housing in which part of the city is tricky. “If you make the percentage [of preference] within the particular district too high, you’re excluding people from other parts of the city who could avail themselves of these affordable units,” said commissioner Michael Antonini. Others worry that relocation within a supervisorial district could still be jarring and take people out of their neighborhoods.“I could be living literally on Waller by Duboce and a housing project could be built in outer Glen Park,” said Commissioner Dennis Richards, imagining a theoretical transition for a senior. “That’s a big move. That’s huge.”Originally, city staff proposed a system in which an additional stipulation would give tenants displaced by no-fault evictions extra priority. That would have included residents displaced by fires or other disasters, owner-move-in evictions, and other no-fault evictions. Those evicted under the Ellis Act have been given priority since 2014. Concerns over flooding the market with more candidates for limited affordable housing sent that idea back to the drawing board. Sophie Hayward from the city’s housing office said tenant advocates worried that an influx of candidates for housing “would increase the pool of eligible people so dramatically that it would result in this raised hope, low delivery situation.”But the number of people who get evicted under the Ellis Act and also take advantage of their priority for affordable housing is small, Hayward said. Only 12 percent of the 304 evicted under the Ellis Act ultimately ended up in affordable housing.Since 2010, the city has seen 648 Ellis Act evictions and 1,288 owner-move-in evictions. But the city cannot currently offer the latter any preference for affordable housing. “It’s really hard to field a phone call from someone who thinks they have a preference and then we have to say ‘No, we can’t,’” Hayward said. Whether it’s an owner-move-in eviction or an Ellis eviction, she added, “to the tenant, it feels the same.”City staff promised Thursday that they would return quickly with a revised proposal, but it may be months before a new draft legislation can be presented. The Planning Commission recommended on Thursday a change to city code that would favor local residents in the lottery for affordable housing. At the same time, commissioners delayed action on measures that would prioritize certain victims of displacement. Under the proposed recommendation, 25 percent of new affordable housing built would go to former residents of the neighborhood. Neighborhoods were defined by supervisor’s district plus a half-mile buffer zone.The problem with the current housing lottery, tenant advocates argued effectively, is that new affordable housing built in a neighborhood may fail to house residents displaced from that neighborhood.“We absolutely need some type of neighborhood preference for affordable housing,” said Sam Moss, director of the nonprofit development firm Mission Housing. Neighborhoods like the Mission have more displaced tenants than affordable housing units, he said. More often than not, he added, they have no choice but to move across the city. 0% Tags: Affordable Housing • development Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%
Tags: Business • tech Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% 0% No word yet from Dispatch media relations about Mission-specific plans for the Carries. What’s this? It’s a delivery robot from Dispatch, as its handler must have told a million people today with impressively good humor (it literally says “delivery” right on the side but everyone who saw this little fella trundling down the street still had to ask, including me).The guys whose legs you see in the photo said they thought it might be ice cream, but sadly, no frozen treats were to be had – from what I could gather, the robot is learning the sidewalks of the Mission and beyond.Dispatch is a startup with some $2 million in seed funding that has tested its delivery bot on two college campuses. The robot, called Carry, is about three feet tall and is meant to make multiple deliveries per walking-speed trip. The recipient unlocks the robot’s compartment with an app.There are several companies trying to figure out the “last mile” of getting products to customers in an era where going into a store is apparently passé. Last year a company called Starship tested something similar out in the Richmond. The challenge is efficiency and timeliness – as one investor noted to Forbes, despite all the fuss about flying drone delivery, keeping delivery robots grounded is significantly cheaper. The question is how it will stack up against human-powered competition. Are bike messengers’ jobs facing automation?
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The CFPUA has issued a precautionary boil water advisory due to a water main break on Myrtle Grove Road.- Advertisement – 00:00 00:00 html5: Video file not foundhttps://cdn.field59.com/WWAY/1507167007-4028ff56e02d78a43c41351ffeebb9ba40b167ab_fl9-720p.mp4 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings Drinking.Brushing teeth.Washing fruits and vegetables.Preparing food and baby formula.Making ice.Giving to pets.Customers do NOT need to boil water prior to using it for showering or bathing.The resulting Precautionary Boil Water Advisory shall be in effect until water quality testing has occurred and service is returned to normal.When testing is completed, typically within 24 hours, and service is returned to normal, the advisory will be lifted. Water customers at the addresses listed below will experience periods of low pressure and/or outages in the distribution system today.This advisory is for:Tidal Walk CommunityEast Seaview RoadSummer ViewJohns Creek Road7500 thru 7900 Blocks of Myrtle Grove RoadCustomers in other parts of CFPUA service areas are not affected and do not need to boil their water.Related Article: Water main break impacting roughly 400 Murrayville-area homesPeriods of low or no pressure in the distribution system increase the potential for back siphonage and introduction of bacteria into the water system. CFPUA customers in the above described area are asked to boil their water for one minute, allow it to cool prior to consumption, and store the cooled water in a clean container with a cover. Customers can also utilize another water source such as bottled water.Affected customers should use boiled water that has cooled or bottled water for:
The nearly 17-percent rate hike would increase bills by nearly $18.Some of that would cover costs to build or upgrade plants and the rest would go toward handling and removing coal ash.One AARP member said people should not have to pay for the company’s mistake and wants them to be held accountable.Related Article: County reduces curfew, encourages evacuees to stay put“Duke Energy’s insurance denied their claim for the clean up simply because it was their routine practice. It was not something that happened and was a mistake, so we want Duke Energy to be accountable and do what’s right for our people, our community people cannot afford this rate hike,” AARP member and volunteer Connette Bradley said.She also said if the Utilities Commission approves a rate hike it should be at a lower rate. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Your Duke Energy bill could go up if Duke Energy gets approval for a rate increase.Tonight the North Carolina Utilities Commission is holding a public hearing about the proposed increase.- Advertisement –
The newest suit was filed in the U.S. District court in the Eastern District of North Carolina’s Southern Division.In it, the 58-year-old plaintiff, Victoria Carey, from Leland makes several claims of medical issues she has dealt with since moving to the area are a result of GenX contamination.The suit says water tested from the Carey family home revealed elevated levels of GenX and Nafion that exceeded regulatory standards.Related Article: New Hampshire sets tough drinking water standards for PFASThe lawsuit was filed with several law firms counseling the plaintiff, the main one being Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC with Martha Geer signing off on the filing.The suit cites a study DuPont performed on GenX in 2013 that had findings the chemical compound belonged to a class of compounds called peroxisome prolierators which are known to produce liver, pancreatic, and testicular tumors in rats and liver tumors in mice.It also looks at the C8 fallout with DuPont and the studies in that case that found a significant positive exposure-response relationship between PFOA’s and kidney cancer.The former class action lawsuits were not diving into the health issues potentially resulting from GenX contamination after Erin Brokovich’s team of researchers concluded there was not enough scientific evidence to move forward with a legal case for it.This class action suit is requested for compensatory and punitive damages. NCDEQ scientists taking samples at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant on June 22, 2017 (Photo: Brunswick County) BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A new class action lawsuit has come down on DuPont and Chemours as a result of the GenX contamination of the Cape Fear River.Previous lawsuits against the company have come from neighbors demanding compensation for water treatment and property value loss. Others have now come from public entities like the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the DEQ.- Advertisement –
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — With more and more senior citizens moving to Brunswick County, local leaders and state officials are working to keep them protected from scammers.According to the State Department of Justice, elder fraud scams were the number one scams reported last year.- Advertisement – “Call us. Check before you write one,” NC Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall said.That was the main message Marshall discussed during an Anti-Fraud Workshop in Brunswick County Thursday afternoon.“A lot of crimes in this area does occur one family member on another family member,” Marshall said. “So people have got to be very alert to that kind of thing. There are a variety of types of elder abuse that happen in our community sadly everyday.”Related Article: Wilmington police warn of city-wide money scamBobby Ann Caldwell fell victim to a scam two years ago.“It was a costly lesson but I learned it well,” Caldwell said.Soon after Caldwell bought a laptop, she got a call from a man claiming he was with Microsoft and that her computer had been hacked.“So I believed him,” Caldwell said. “So for the wonderful price of $199 I was guaranteed security for three years.”A few months later, the scammer called again saying he was issuing Caldwell a refund because of a software issue.“He told me he made a mistake. Instead of $199 he did $1,999. So I had to go find a Western Union office open in the evening and send the money back to him so he wouldn’t get fired,” Caldwell said.After she sent the scammer the money, he asked for it again saying he did not receive the payment. In that moment, Caldwell realized she lost nearly $2,000.“Hang up,” Caldwell said. “Don’t even bother being polite and saying ‘No thank you,’ just hang up.”Caldwell was one of the dozens who attended the workshop. She said she will never fall for a scam again.“Medicare does not call. The IRS does not call. The state of North Carolina does not call. All of this is done in writing. So if somebody is calling saying that you need to do this or you’re gonna be arrested, you need to do this or your powers gonna be cut off, that’s not how these organizations operate. So don’t fall for it,” Marshall said.Marshall adds if someone comes to your home without you contacting them, or if an investment opportunity sounds too good to be true, then it is likely a scam.Some of the most popular elder fraud scams include sweetheart scams, sweepstakes scams, and government grant scams.For more on what you should lookout for, click here.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – Local and national charities are providing warm meals in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. The First Baptist Church of Wilmington has partnered with the state Baptist Mission group to feed residents.The First Baptist activity center on Independence Boulevard is providing lunch from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. and dinner from 4:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. This site is one of a laundry list of locations that are offering food and water.- Advertisement – The missions are also sending packaged cooked meals with the Red Cross who then goes out into Wilmington neighborhoods to distribute food.So far, they have given away upwards to 5,000 meals.“They get in the line we’ll give them whatever number of meals they need,” said site commander Bill Fogarty. “They can take meals to neighbors that can’t get out. We’re not trying to be stingy with the food. We want to get the food to people who need it. Drive through pick it up, go home, eat it, and come back again for the next meal.”Related Article: Florence death toll climbs to 37The mission is also preparing to offer debris removal and clean up services as well free of charge according to Fogarty. We will update you when we know more about when they will begin doing the work.