Wednesday, 15 May 2013
An information night including films and art of the Save Leyton Marsh camapign and a chance to meet people involved and discuss the issues will take place from 7:30pm on Monday May 20 at Pogo Cafe. The campaign aims to restore Leyton Marsh to "a completely open access, uncommercialised and unspoilt green field" following part of the marsh being turned into a temporary Olympic venue. There is a Facebook group for the event. Pogo Cafe is located on 76 Clarence Road, Hackney,E5 8HB. The nearest London Overground station is Hackney Central, which is 9 minutes walk, and the nearest National Rail station is Hackney Downs, which is 7 minutes walk. A number of buses also stop nearby, including the 38, 48 and 55.
Universities in Scotland are "hotbeds" of antisemitism Waltham Forest Council spends £250k on demolishing steps and bridges to make Marsh Lane Fields more visible. Citizens Advice Scotland survey finds 76% of current claimants would struggle to apply for benefits online Purchase price of New Bus For London was £354,500 per vehicle. Nick Cohen on Iain Duncan Smith.
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
My commute for work by train takes me about seventeen minutes and cost £6.60 return. For that price, you would expect a decent level of service. However, almost every day I use the service there are delays due to signal failures or "problems with line-side equipment". Clearly, many of these are the responsibility of Network Rail as train operating companies do not manage the track. However, there are also regular delays and cancellations due to faulty trains. Those who want to keep the current privatization of the railways need to campaign for franchisees that put more responsibility on franchise holders to keep their trains properly maintained. The disappointment does not end when you actually get on the train. It is somewhat ironic to end up in the quiet carriage (where I sit usually varies) and be bombarded by announcements. Why do we need to be told the next station twice in three minutes? Why do we need to be thanked for traveling with this train company at the end of the journey? And why do we need to be given a short speech about what is being served in the buffet car? Why not put up a menu in the corridor between each carriage or next to the safety card. People claim that the increased usage of trains is because more people are satisfied with them? This is not true in my case - I use trains because the Thames Travel bus service is too infrequent and I don't drive. There are some good things about traveling by train, even when you go via the overcrowded Oxford station. I always get a seat and generally the trains to work are on time - it is the trains from work which are usually delayed. And, as I'm more likely to buy a soft drink and newspaper if there is a fifteen minute delay, at least the economy is being helped by my time being wasted.
Saturday, 11 May 2013
The mental health charity Restore's Banbury recovery group will be exhibiting a variety of artwork between Monday 20th to Friday 24th May as part of Oxfordshire Artweeks. The exhibition is open on these days from 10am to 3:30pm. Tea and coffee, cold drinks and snacks are also available. Restore's Banbury recovery group is called the Orchard and is located at 28 Calthorpe Street, Banbury, OX16 5EX. The S4 bus runs from Oxford City Centre via Summertown and the main road in Kidlington to Banbury. There are also regular train services from Oxford to Banbury. Calthorpe Street is a twelve minute walk from Banbury rail station and a nine minute walk from Banbury bus station, where the S4 bus stops. Donate to Restore
Thursday, 9 May 2013
I haven't done a Freedom of Information request to find out what the "leadership team" on Brighton and Hove council are currently paid, but I do have figures for the 2012/3 financial year (PDF). In that year, five senior staff earned over £100k of public money, with the Chief Executive Penelope Thompson on £150k. If a £100k cap had been brought in, £105,000 a year would be saved. There are also another 17 staff on £70k or over. I have no objection to council staff earning good salaries, but if cuts were needed those who earn a lot of public money should be first to have a pay cut rather than those who earn very little public money. Why are refuse workers and lollipop persons in Brighton and Hove facing pay cuts while the leadership team are not? A 20% pay cut and a £100k cap for the leadership team may only save a few hundred thousand pounds, but that is a few hundred thousand pounds that does not have to be taken off the wages of low paid workers, while the leadership team will still receive a decent salary. Unlike the private sector, the public sector has a responsibility to avoid paying six figure sums as many low paid public sector workers are facing wage cuts and all salaries are paid with public money. Supporters of high wages for public sector heads say that they will move into the private sector if they do not get six figure salaries? Really? Firstly, how many six figure private sector roles are on offer in this recession? Secondly, many people choose to join the public sector because they believe in public services and like the cachet of being CEO of X council or MP for Y. Thirdly, just because a post is not attracting a £150k salary does not mean that people who are not highly capable will not go for it. If people want to make lots of money, they should join the private sector. We cannot pay council CEO's £150k while cutting the wages of refuse collectors and lollipop persons.
Another example of our soft justice system. This is Local London reports that Rebecca Michelle Schembri, 36, knocked a stroke victim she was meant to be caring for out of her chair and hurled disablist abuse at her.
After a phone call from her husband, Schembri became angry and grabbed the elderly woman’s stroke affected arm and asked if it hurt, the court was told. Magistrates heard Mrs Challis offered to get Schembri a taxi home, but she refused, called her a “spastic” and a “cripple” before saying: “Don’t hide in that wheelchair, fight you b****”. Schembri shouted “Don’t think I don’t know you are putting this on” before hitting the pensioner around the head and knocking her out of the wheelchair and on to the floor in the hallway. Police arrested Schembri shortly after the incident, when she kicked a policeman.What punishment did Schembri get for attacking someone she was meant to be caring for? A suspended 12-month prison sentence and 200 hours community service, as well as alcohol treatment for six months as well as paying costs of £85 and £300 compensation. What sort of message does that send to other abusive carers? I would have liked to have seen a jail sentence in this case, as well as more extensive alcohol treatment and education about her disablist views. Is there any way that care agencies can improve their recruitment process to ensure that people like Schembri are not recruited? Being drunk is hardly an excuse for what she did. Just as only racists hurl racist abuse while drunk, only disablist bigots attack and threaten disabled people while drunk.
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Several disabled people have lost legal action against Arriva North East, taken due to the company's policy that drivers do not have to ensure passengers occupying wheelchair spaces make way if a wheelchair user wants to get on the bus. They plan to appeal the decision. Shockingly, the judge found that this ruling did not breach the 2010 Equality Act as disabled passengers were not at a "substantial disadvantage" compared with other bus users. Clearly, if a person in a wheelchair cannot sit in the wheelchair space, they will be unable to board the bus. For that matter, if someone who is not in a wheelchair but has a disability impairing their movement cannot sit near the front of the bus, they will find it difficult to travel further up the bus to find a seat If someone who is not disabled cannot find a seat, they can stand or wait for the next bus. If someone in a wheelchair cannot use the wheelchair seat, and they wait for the next bus, what happens if they cannot use their wheelchair space there either? Should they wait hours for a free wheelchair space? Disabled people not being given equal access to bus travel means that disabled people are unable to travel to the shops, to meet friends or to go to work. Yes, to go to work. All those who complain about not enough disabled people working should be fighting for better access on public transport. How can someone in a wheelchair commute to work five days a week if he or she has to wait hours for a free wheelchair space? Any bus company bidding for a contract should have to ensure disabled people have the same access as other bus users. This should mean that it is an offence punishable by a fine for someone not in a wheelchair not to move from a wheelchair priority space when asked or for someone to occupy a wheelchair only space when not in a wheelchair. Drivers and other bus staff should be told to enforce this policy, and wheelchair users should have a designated way of reporting passengers who do not vacate the wheelchair space when asked to - perhaps email photos to the bus company. Legislating for seats designated for elderly and disabled passengers is more difficult because many disabilties are hidden. The company should also have regular inspections to make sure this policy is being adhered to. Otherwise, wheelchair users and other disabled people are being discriminated against.
Trigger warning: Poor treatment of woman who had taken an overdose shown on Keeping Britain Alive: The NHS in a Day
There have been seven episodes of Keeping Britain Alive: The NHS in a day so far, and the BBC 2 series has shown the hard work and dedication of the majority of NHS staff. Despite increased workloads and budget cuts, the majority of those shown in last night's episode of the documentary were seen to be caring and highly professional. However, I was very disappointed by the attitude of two West Midlands paramedics towards a woman who had just taken an overdose. Paramedic Jay began with the claim that overdoses are "just for attention, there's normally no suicidal intent", and then complained about how the woman had asked that no lights are sirens were used. "Apparently 999 do requests now" he quipped. It seems a reasonable request - clearly the woman did not want her neighbours to know she had called an ambulance. When the patient got distressed, Jay didn't help by saying "Stupid. Don't be stupid!" - comments which are going to upset an already distressed person more. Saying "What do think is going to happen...Seriously" in a critical tone probably just made her feel worse. I am not sure what the guidelines are regarding not letting a patient leave the ambulance - this could be standard procedure for all I know. Seemingly unaware or not caring that the woman they have in the back of the ambulance is not very well, Paramedic Mel comments "There was no reason to do what she just tried to do". As Mel mentions, paramedics do face a lot of aggression from patients, but people who are unwell are very different from someone who is just violent. Aside from wanting to leave the ambulance, the woman showed no signs of aggression and did not try to attack either of the paramedics. Clearly if someone attacks a paramedic they should be prosecuted and receive a heavy sentence, but this woman is clearly unwell and has not shown any signs of violence. She then says "Just sit yourself down" in a half-laughing, exasperated way, an insulting tone which could further aggravate the woman. Then, clearly in earshot of the patient, Mel says "See, this really annoys me because she saying that she's only going to do it again". Mel also reveals the patient has been sectioned three times in the last three days - clearly she needs treatment rather than judgement. Pretty sure that NHS staff aren't meant to comment like than on patients in their earshot, as well. I have an enormous amount of respect for paramedics - they do one of the hardest jobs in Britain on not enough pay and make a big difference. However, I was very disappointed by the attitude of the two West Midlands paramedics towards an obviously very worried and unwell patient. You can watch the full episode here.