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July 31, 2019
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By John Pring editor of Disability News Service I

first_imgBy John Pring, editor of Disability News ServiceIt is fair to say that the Department for Work and Pensions is not disabled people’s favourite government department, but it is the one that Disability News Service (DNS) deals with most often. So when the DWP press office threatens to stop responding to DNS enquiries “with immediate effect”, it is a threat I have to take seriously. This blog will describe how this situation has come about. I hope that other disabled people will offer their opinions on whether I am behaving unreasonably, or whether the DWP is threatening DNS unfairly and potentially breaching the Equality Act. As many people will know, DNS has a number of subscribers who pay an annual or monthly fee for the right to use DNS stories on their own websites or in their magazines or newsletters, or sometimes solely for briefing purposes. The stories are sent out every Friday by email, usually at around 1pm. Most of these subscribers are disabled people’s organisations, and operate – like DNS – on tight budgets. I also place the stories on the DNS website, every Friday evening, at around 6pm. These news stories often rely on comments from DWP. Unfortunately, my relationship with the DWP press office – like many other journalists – has grown increasingly fractious over the last few years. This has partly come about due to frustration at DWP’s occasional habit of responding in a way that seeks to ignore/avoid the question and simply produce an answer that offers a PR truth, rather than an actual truth. Here’s an example: Several months ago, Mark Harper, the Conservative minister for disabled people, said in the Commons that he had talked to disability organisations and they agreed with the government that closing the Independent Living Fund and not ring-fencing the funding given to local authorities was the right thing to do. I asked DWP which organisations Harper was referring to. The answer I received was: “The Minister meets regularly with a broad range of disability groups.” Which, of course, does not answer the question at all. This, sadly, is not an isolated example.Unfortunately, my relationship with DWP has now reached a new low, with the new chief press officer (disability), threatening to stop dealing completely with DNS. The latest problems began several weeks ago, when I approached the DWP press office by email at 8.50pm on a Wednesday evening for a comment on an Access to Work story I was working on. As always, I made it clear when my deadline was: in this case, the end of the following day. However, the press office did not respond to the email until 5.50pm on Friday, nearly two days after I emailed them with a request for a comment, more than four hours after I finished sending the stories to my subscribers, and nearly 24 hours after the deadline I had set. Later that evening, I thanked the press officer for her efforts, but said that the comment had come through far too late to be included in the story. That, I thought, would be that. However, I was contacted by another DWP press officer the next morning, asking if I intended to update the copy on my website to include the late response. I replied, explaining how DNS worked, and informing him that this would not be possible.Two days later, I received an emailed letter from the chief press officer (disability), who warned that he was “not prepared to continue diverting precious time and resources to deal with detailed enquiries from DNS if you cannot guarantee that these answers will be acknowledged in your copy once they are received,” and that: “If DNS does not consider itself to be comparable to every other UK news organisation then it is not within the DWP Press Office’s remit to handle any of its enquiries and, in future, you will need to make your requests for information to the Department through the same methods as any other member of the public.”If DNS stories appeared only on the DNS website, I would have no problem with the DWP request. It would be entirely reasonable. However, the stories also appear on the websites of my subscribers, and I do not feel comfortable updating my own website, but allowing theirs to continue with out-dated versions of my articles. Therefore, if I was to update my website, I would want to provide an updated story to my 20-odd subscribers. And if I did this with DWP, I would also need to do it with every other organisation that failed to produce a comment in time for my deadlines.In the past, when DWP has sent me responses to stories far past the deadlines I have set, I have made it clear that this makes it more difficult for me to do my job, increases my anxiety levels, and ensures that my work hours increase. I currently work an average of 70-80 hours a week, and the DWP’s habit of continually missing deadlines and leaving it until the last possible moment to provide a comment has certainly had an impact on my mental health in the past. I have made it clear to the press office on many occasions that I would be grateful if they could try to meet my deadlines as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act.(I should, of course, point out that on the rare occasion that there is a significant factual mistake in a DNS story, I alert all of my subscribers to that error.)Following this latest incident, I again made the DWP press office aware that to take on the extra workload of continually updating my subscribers throughout the week with developments on old stories, in addition to producing the next week’s stories, could have an adverse impact on my mental health and even make it impossible to continue with DNS. For that reason, I told the chief press officer (disability) that I believed it would be a reasonable adjustment for him to allow me to continue to operate DNS in the way that I have done for the last six years. Although this is not the way a typical news agency would operate, I do work alone, I have a mental health condition, I am extremely careful with my research, and I believe I behave responsibly in the way I work.Sadly, the chief press officer (disability) is again threatening that unless I agree to the changes he has suggested, “the DWP Press Office will no longer be able to respond to DNS’s enquiries”.I have had some extremely supportive comments from my subscribers, but would like to ask other disabled people whether I am being unreasonable, or whether I should resist DWP’s attempts to force me to change the way I work, rather than agreeing to what I believe is a reasonable adjustment.John Pring can be contacted at john@disabilitynewsservice.comlast_img read more

July 31, 2019
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Developer threatens to sue as SF Supes delay Mission project

first_imgSubscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter 0% The decision is only the latest chapter in a fierce battle over whether the 75-unit project — which would price 11 percent of its units as affordable — will ultimately come to fruition. The Planning Commission approved the project in November, but a final green light was delayed at the Board of Supervisors in February, pending a study of whether the building was a historic resource.  Under state law, Tillman was allowed to add more units to his project while lowering the overall affordable component to 11 percent, from the 12 percent then required by the city.Many longtime Mission District residents argue that the project will only further the gentrification and displacement in the once predominantly working-class Latino neighborhood — concerns District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen ultimately sympathized with at the meeting. Pro-housing advocates, meanwhile, argued that the major hurdles the project has faced are indicative of why housing is drastically underbuilt here. Tillman charged that Tuesday’s action by the Board of Supervisors was potentially illegal. His attorney, David H. Blackwell, outlined his case in an 11-page letter sent to the board on Monday. “There’s nothing else I can do; they have made their decision,” Tillman told Mission Local following Tuesday’s proceedings. “They have to come up with findings that justify their decision, and they’re going to have a difficult time doing that.”  Ronen took issue with the fact that the environmental review, which did analyze the effects of the proposed building’s shadows on the schoolyards, did not consider the shadow’s impacts on the schoolyards when they become public space. This is the plan under the city’s forthcoming Shared Schoolyards Program. The program would open school playgrounds to the general public during non-school hours. The decision followed a public comment session in which the project’s opponents expressed worry over its potential impacts on Zaida T. Rodriguez Preschool, which sits on Bartlett Street behind the proposed site. Opponents argued the constructions will kick up dust and noise, as well as shadows once the project is built. They also bemoaned the loss of their neighborhood. “This project does sit in the middle of many of our community anchors,” one opponent to the project said during public comment. “None of the people who have lived here are going to move into that building.” Scott Weaver, a lawyer for the merchant’s association Calle 24, which filed the appeal on the project, argued that the shadows, dust and noise would affect the students at the school. “Has the city done all that it can to make sure the children are safe?” he asked. Weaver also argued that the number of units developed in the Mission has surpassed what is allowed by a city plan for the neighborhood — called the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan — creating no need for the development.Officials from the city’s Planning Department refuted Weaver’s argument. They said that their environmental review concluded that the project’s construction would not have a negative impact on the children – and the shadows would not negatively affect the students. They also said the project was consistent with the city’s interpretation of the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan.  Ronen did not take issue with those specific findings. She, instead, focused on shadows on the schoolyard as a potential public space. Before moving to uphold the appeal, however, she indicated that her decision to continue the matter ultimately rested with the community’s concerns. To supporters of the appeal, mostly longtime Mission District residents, she said: “I hear you and the pain that’s been caused from the uneven development in the Mission [that] has decimated the community and changed it in ways that are unfair to low-income and Latino community.”She also took aim at Tillman. “He is exploiting the process for his own personal gain,” she said. “He knows he can get more money if he can sell this land if it’s entitled than when it’s not.” Tillman told Mission Local that his intentions have never been a secret. He said he has, on multiple occasions, offered to sell the land to anyone who wants to use it for affordable housing. For Tillman, however, any affordable housing there would come at a market-rate price. As such, he claims he’s already turned down a not-yet-financed $9 million offer by the Mission Economic Development Agency. Tillman said the offer was only 50 percent of the property’s value. “I want to maximize value on something I own,” he said. But now, to do so, he will have to wait a bit longer. Robert Tillman, the self-described “newbie developer,” was on Tuesday foiled again by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in his efforts to develop a 75-unit building on Mission Street between 25th and 26th streets. It is currently the site of a laundromat he owns. The board voted unanimously to uphold an appeal of the project, saying that not enough analysis has been undertaken regarding the effects of the proposed eight-story structure’s shadows, which it would cast over the playgrounds of a neighboring preschool. That area is slated to be used as public space in the near future. It’s unclear how the city will proceed with the additional review — or how long it will take. Tillman says he plans to sue the city, depending on whether the city can justify the delay through its findings in its additional shadow analysis. “My only alternative, if I want to take this project through, is to file a lawsuit against the city,” he said following Tuesday’s decision. He said that he has exhausted all administrative avenues and has no other option.  center_img Email Address Tags: Board of Supervisors • development • housing Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

July 31, 2019
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WERE Back in BlackSaints are delighted to announ

first_imgWE’RE Back in Black!Saints are delighted to announce the launch of their brand new 2013 Away Kit in store and onlineDesigned and created in association with ISC, the Away kit is styled the same as the successfully launched 2013 Home Kit but with the body and trim colours reversed, whilst keeping the iconic Red Vee across the chest to produce a striking looking shirt.Ty-phoo are once again our front of shirt Sponsor. The sleeves are sponsored by Knowsley Safari Park and MyProtein, whilst the Collar is once again sponsored by OD’s Menswear with Tudor Northwest Ltd at the centre of the upper chest.Hattons Solicitors and thepsdgroup.co.uk logos sit proudly on the reverse of the shirt.“We are delighted with the look and quality of this new 2013 Away kit,” Merchandising Manager Steve Law explained. “Once again ISC have come up with a functional players shirt which the squad are excited about playing in, and a stylish and practical replica shirt for fans to show their colours home and away.“There has been an awful lot of anticipation, speculation and excitement looking forward to the launch of this year’s kit, so we are sure the fans will be pleased with the final design. It is sure to be recognised everywhere it goes and we know the players and fans alike will wear it with pride.”As with recent ISC Replicas the shirt is designed to be close fitting and slightly shorter than other suppliers so please ensure you order larger sizes if you prefer a looser fit.Shirt Prices; Adults (XS – 4XL) – £44.99, Adults (5XL -7XL) – £47.99, Ladies (L8-L18) – £44.99, Kids (Age 6-Age 16) £34.99, Toddlers (Age 1 -Age 4) £29.99.Matching Shorts and socks are also available.Get your new kit today from Saints Superstore at Langtree Park, or online at www.saintssuperstore.comJon Wilkin, Tommy Makinson and Ade Gardner will be in store on Saturday from 12.30pm.last_img read more

July 30, 2019
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Wanted Hampstead man arrested for area breakins

first_img He is charged with three counts of felony breaking and entering along with a list of other charges.Deputies say Yopp broke into unoccupied summer homes and stole a television and an air conditioning unit. He then pawned the items. Yopp broke into the Castle Bay Golf Course maintenance building and stole lawn equipment. These items also were pawned.Yopp’s bond is set at $105,100.Related Article: Mandatory evacuation in place for Pender CountyThis investigation is on-going and additional charges may be forthcoming. HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — A Pender County man has been arrested after police say he broke into several homes and a business in the Hampstead area.Pender County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that 29-year-old Jason Garland Yopp was in jail.- Advertisement – last_img read more

July 30, 2019
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Vigil held for men and women killed by law enforcement four years

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)  – Several deaths at the hands of local law enforcement was the center of a candlelight vigil tonight in downtown Wilmington. The deaths happened years ago, but for family members of the people killed, they say the pain and questions remain.“We will not forget,” members of Wilmington Black Lives Matter said.- Advertisement – Four years later, and it is not forgotten that a series of people were killed by local law enforcement. Every case was investigated, and each officer or sheriff’s deputy was found to be in the right.“It’s like every day, on October the 13 it seems like we relive that moment,” Brandon Smith’s sister Georgia Davis said.The family of Smith, who died in October 2013, still feel the wounds. Law enforcement shot and killed Smith days after he was accused of shooting a New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputy. He along with several people are the reason Black Lives Matter Wilmington gathered for a candlelight vigil at the 1898 Memorial.Related Article: Five wanted for Columbus County home invasion, robbery“We’re not going to forget Brandon, Tevon Robinson, Ronald Roland, or Grace Denk,” BLM member Sonya Patrick said.All of those cases ended with the District Attorney’s office or state agencies finding deputies or police justified in using deadly force. BLM members think justice was not served.“Literally, law enforcement is actually evaluating themselves, definitely they’re not going to see anything wrong,” Patrick said.The DA’s office cites the statement they made in 2013 that the evidence they found “showed that they [deputies] used deadly force when an extremely violent felon seemingly placed them in danger” in relation to Smith’s killing.“We’re trying to stop this form happening to someone else,” said Davis, who added that when Smith died he left behind a family in need of support with his son dealing with a case of leukemia.Wilmington Police and the New Hanover County Sheriff would not comment about the cases or on it being the anniversary of Smith’s case. The spokesperson for WPD says the department’s thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost their loved ones.“He doesn’t have the chance to have a voice, so we feel that we have to be his voice,” Davis says.Wilmington Black Lives Matter members ask the district attorney allow a citizen review panel to investigate more officer-involved shooting cases.last_img read more

July 30, 2019
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Could American Airlines glitch impact holiday flights at ILM

first_img Pilots who agree to pick up open flights could be paid at 150 percent their hourly rate.ILM says they are putting their hopes into the airline at this time as American is trying to reassure the public.The airline says it has filled many of the open flights.Related Article: President Trump delivers Thanksgiving message to US service membersSo far, no flights have been canceled in December because of this. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A glitch in American Airlines’ pilot scheduling system led to too many pilots being given time off during the holiday season. But could it affect Wilmington’s airport?Wilmington International Airport says the airline reports that out of the more than 15,000 flights that didn’t originally have pilots only a few hundred remain.- Advertisement – last_img read more

July 30, 2019
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Missing Ocean Isle swimmer found alive

first_imgBRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A man is alive after being reported missing on Ocean Isle Beach early Thursday morning.According to Craig Sanders with the US Coast Guard, the 26-year-old man was swimming near 371 E. 1st Street. He was reported missing around 3:30 a.m.- Advertisement – Sanders said the man was found in the sand dunes on the north end of the beach by Brunswick County Fire and Water Rescue around an hour later.No other information is available at this time.last_img

July 30, 2019
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CFPUA repair affecting traffic on S 16th Street

first_img Click here for real-time traffic updates from Operation GridlockThere is an associated Precautionary Boil Water Advisory with this travel advisory. It involves about 20 commercial customers and notifications have been hand delivered by CFPUA staff.This travel advisory began around 1 p.m. The travel advisory is expected to last four to six hours.Related Article: Father says he found mold in kid’s Capri Sun pouchDrivers are asked to use caution when driving in this location. Cape Fear Public Utility Authority appreciates our customers’ patience. Map of are impacted by CFPUA repair on June 27, 2018. (Photo: CFPUA/Google Earth) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — CFPUA crews are making an emergency water main repair on South 16th Street that could impact traffic and neighbors into the evening.CFPUA crews have shifted the easternmost and center southbound lane of traffic on South 16th Street into the westernmost southbound lane in the 1400 and 1500 blocks of South 16th Street allowing single lane travel.- Advertisement – last_img read more

July 30, 2019
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Volunteers helping with Matthew rebuilding efforts in Columbus County

first_imgCOLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Whether it be a new roof over a Fair Bluff resident’s head or a wheelchair ramp to make life a little easier, 300 Mission Serve volunteers are trying to help people in Columbus County still recovering from Hurricane Matthew.Thomas Samaha is the youth pastor at Cherry Grove Baptist Church in Cerro Gordo. He saw the destruction of Matthew first-hand. That’s why he wants to help.- Advertisement – “They get a roof, they get a wheelchair ramp, they get something that makes a difference and brings their joy and their hope back,” Samaha said. “We’re able to share Christ with them on top of that, and it just puts all of the pieces of their puzzle back together for them, and they realize somebody cares, somebody loves me, we’re not forgotten.”The break from the usual North Carolina humidity early this week has helped Samaha’s crew get the roofing done faster.Jonah Walker came from Florida and skipped his friend’s wedding to come help.Related Article: City talks how to keep popular Southport dock afloat“God just spoke into my life and was like you’re going on this trip,” Walker said. “At that moment, I was super excited, super stoked for it, so it’s a little different than most people. I had to call my friend and tell him, ‘Look man. I can’t come to your wedding. I’ve got bigger and better things I gotta do.’”Walker says this week is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to help someone in need.“It means the world. It’s a phenomenal opportunity. I’m sure it happens at almost every crew, but he comes out, sees us on the roof and he’s thanking us for our work, but every time he says thank you, I’m like, ‘No, thank you for the opportunity to be here to help you.’”This week’s work in Columbus County is one of 17 projects Mission Serve is taking on this summer across the country and abroad.This is the second year Mission Serve has helped Columbus County. Project coordinator Joe Monk says there’s still more work to do. He says the organization plans to bring volunteers back to the area next June if they can raise enough money to make the trip.last_img read more

July 30, 2019
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Staff raises 5000 for business owner after house fire

first_img Hyatt told WWAY he also had an incredible night of business at the restaurant; adding he is overwhelmed by the generosity.Sunday morning, Hyatt lost his home and his pet dogs in a fire. In response to this event, the restaurant staff hosted a fundraiser to help him. The staff collected donations including clothing, household items and money for Hyatt and his daughter.The staff has also started a GoFundMe. P.T.’s Grille Fundraiser (Photo: WWAY) LELAND, NC (WWAY)– After one local business owner lost everything, a community stepped up to help him pick up the pieces.By Friday evening, the fundraiser for P.T.’s Grille owner Aaron Hyatt had reached $5,000.- Advertisement – last_img