Your Opinion is Needed

It costs £5 per year to send each member notices by post. We do not want to charge members and we want to continue to send out post to members without emails, this currently costs us £150 per year. How can we ensure that the people who receive post still want to receive it?

News About Blue Badges

Read about the victory to reinstate Blue Badges for other types of disability.

Changes to Blue Badge Entitlement following the implementation of PIP – a victory

The City Council have confirmed this morning that with immediate effect they are amending their Blue Badge application process for the terminally ill which will now be fast tracked. Thank you to everyone who supported this campaign against their unfair system. The fee issue is also going to be reviewed at the next council meeting. All in all a great victory.

 

Regards

Duncan

Community Transport

STAND contributed to a meeting to discuss the need for and possible ways of providing community transport.

Our view was that it is definately needed as many disabled people are unable to use public transport. (bus stops too far away, possibly no space for a wheelchair or buggie)

The Newcastle model seemed to be working well and could possibly be expanded to include Stoke-on-Trent or possible the Council could work with taxi/private hire firms to provide this service.

The final report is 999 pages long and can be read here Scoping Report but the conclusions are:

Conclusions & Recommendations
8.1 Our conclusions are that demand for a service of some kind in Stoke is significant, that the role of Stoke-on-Trent City Council should be defined and a working group be formed to progress any initiative. We recommend that
 the existing Door2Door service in Newcastle is extended to cover Stoke
 volunteering opportunities around transport are enhanced
 a taxi ‘gold standard’ is investigated, and
 a database of minibus provision is compiled as a preliminary to forming a brokerage.

Chiropody Provision

As STAND members are aware this has been an ongoing problem for many years. The time people have to wait for a first appointment, the time between appointments and the tightening up of the  criteria by which people qualify for Chiropody. All our MPs have been very pro active in helping us with this, writing to CCG and  to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership who are responsible for providing the service. We have had a reply from the Chief Executive, Stuart Poyner, via Rob Flello MP. You can read his reply here Podetry013 The bold type is from my letter complaining about the service and the ordinary type is his reply. The contact address is there on the letter if you want to reply to his points.

Rob Flello MP has been very active on our behalf and we are now gathering case studies of members who have had problems in accessing this service. Please contact STAND if you have a story to tell.

 

Tripping Danger in Tontine Street Now Resolved

STAND members met with Cllr Jack Brereton and Council officials to do a site visit to investigate the problem with the kerb in Tontine Street and Percy Street Hanley.

It was immediately apparent that the colour of the kerb and the gutter was the same and so people had been tripping over the kerb. It was proposed to be resolved by taking out a row of kerb edge stones and replacing them with a lighter colour to make the visual difference between the road and the pavement clear.

Cllr Jack Brereton informed us on 8th Dec 2015 that this work would be carried out within the year. Our thanks go to Cllr Brereton for taking the time and effort to resolve this issue.

This work has been completed. It looks fantastic and even more important there have been no more cases of trips and falls reported to STAND.

Wheelchair Transfers at Royal Stoke University Hospital Now Resolved

STAND has now resolved this issue with the hospital. See the letter at the end of this section.

We are having reports of porters refusing to push wheelchairs out of the hospital to disabled patients cars. Apparently they are not allowed to push any further than the hospital building itself.

A few years ago a STAND member was abandoned at the front door of the hospital, on her own, unable to walk, and in a push wheelchair. We were assured that it would never happen again, but it has. This is the response from the hospital.

Healthwatch are aware of this situation and I have also emailed our local MPs.

At our meeting on 8th Dec 2015 we had representatives from Rob Flello’s office Lisa Nixon and Adrian Jenkins who said that Rob had already written to Mark Hackett at Royal Stoke about this.

I wrote to Mark Hackett and the chair of the board a fortnight ago and have not had any response.

 Pam, many thanks for your email dated 29th October. I have now had the opportunity to investigate this along with my colleagues who have direct reporting responsibilities for the areas in question.
 
Firstly may I apologise to Mr Walmsley for any inconvenience caused on his recent visit to the Royal Stoke University Hospital, and that he did not receive the experience he or the Trust would have wanted.
 
My colleagues have now interviewed the porter concerned and examined CCTV footage around the time of the incident, but unfortunately this has not revealed anything to assist us in the investigation.
 
I fully understand the frustration Mr Walmsley must have felt in waiting for up to 30 minutes for a porter and wheelchair. However, at busy times the Hospital porters and wheelchairs, that are of course a finite resource, can be in great demand elsewhere within the complex, and a delay in attending may unfortunately result.  Im sure you will agree, it is not reasonably practicable to have an over capacity of porters available for all eventualities, over and above normal peak activity levels but we endeavour to respond to such requests  as quickly as we can.
 
As regards the porter reported as to leaving Mr Walmsley at the main entrance, I have looked at the process and procedures surrounding this, and can confirm that Porters do not transfer patients from hospital buildings to their cars. This is partly due to the additional training requirements, equipment and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment required, but also to the time constraints this would involve. The normal process would be that a Hospital Volunteer would actually carry out this task on request. Following our discussion with the porter in question, I’m afraid he cannot recall this particular occurrence, nor whether a volunteer was in attendance at this time. In addition, the volunteer’s role is very fluid and whilst we endeavour to respond to any such requests as quickly as we can, it is quite possible that, at this time, volunteers were engaged in assisting other patients and/or visitors.  You mention motorised wheelchair availability. Im sure you understand that even ignoring the associated high cost of purchasing and maintaining motorised wheelchairs, there is also an inherent health and safety concern for other patients, visitors and staff, in providing these vehicles, within a hospital environment, to patients who are not trained and fully conversant in their use. The Trust would therefore have reservations in providing this type of wheelchair for general use.
 
Pam, thank you for bringing this matter to my attention, and once again, my apologies to Mr Walmsley for any inconvenience caused on his recent visit. I can confirm that the Trust will continue to review and challenge its procedures to look at ways to continually improve its patient & visitor experience.
 
 

John Simpson has asked me to respond to you regarding your recent email, where you asked how people can access the patient transport service.
 
This can be arranged via their GP, or direct to UHNM booking office 01782 676666 – (please select the relevant option).
 
Each request is subject to the Patient Transport Eligibility Criteria, to assess the patients’ medical need for transport for every occasion that they travel. It’s about getting it right, rather than saying a straight yes or no, as patients mobility and medical needs can change.  So there may be more questions on some occasions than others.
 
I hope this answers your question, but if you require further information, please let me know.
 
Regards
 
 
Mike Brown
Head of Facilities – Service Transformation
 
 
 
 

Members remain concerned that no definative guarentee has been given that this situation will not happen again and no system seems to be in place to deal with the problem so I emailed Stuart Poyner to raise it with him. He passed it to Dr Robert Courtney-Harris and he passed it to Mandi Dunbar his PA, who in turn passed it to John Simpson. He emailed me to say he was expecting some positive news on this issue soon. Watch this space!!

AT last!! Success. A policy to ensure this does not happen again.

From: Michael.Brown
To:
[email protected]
Subject: FW: STAND

Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2016 15:21:10 +0000
Pam, many thanks for your email dated 21st June, which John has passed to me to respond.
 
Although the Trust has only been notified of two instances of this type of occurrence over the last three years, we were keen to ensure we had a process in place to mitigate this from happening.
 
The process now in place is as follows:
 
  1. Disabled visitors who feel they may not be able to safely transit from their car to their point of care may use the Trust’s Patient Transport service. This service may be able to offer a complete “door to door” service for hospital visits, therefore removing any unnecessary waiting or distress for disabled patients.
 
  1. Where disabled visitors make their own way to the hospital and need assistance returning to their vehicle, the Trust’s volunteers are available to assist disabled patients in returning to their car following treatment once they become available.
 
  1. In exceptional cases, such as when there are no volunteers working at that time or at times when volunteers may be engaged in assisting other patients and/or visitors for a prolonged period of time, a Trust Porter may, on request, assist a disabled visitor to their car. However, there may be slight wait for this service when porters are engaged in assisting other patients. 
 
I feel we now have the correct process in place to ensure this situation doesn’t arise again. Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I can confirm that the Trust will continue to review and challenge its procedures to look at ways to continually improve its patient and visitor experience.
 
Regards
 
 
Mike Brown
Head of Facilities
Retained Estate
 

Taxi/Private Hire Drivers Overcharging disabled people in Stoke

Members have complained about the behaviour of some drivers blocking disabled bays and overcharging disabled users.

Feb 17

Great news from 6th April this year it is illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against people with disabilities.

See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/law-change-demands-equal-treatment-for-disabled-taxi-users

History

At our meeting on 8th Dec 2015 we had an update from Rachel Wallwork. The council are trying very hard to address this issue ( see an earlier email below) but they need your help in reporting instances of abuse. Please take all detail possible car reg, drivers number, date time place etc. and report it by email [email protected] or ring 01782 232774 

I am also told that private hire charges are not determined by the council. They can charge what they like as long as it is agreed before hand, but they cannot charge a disabled person more for the same journey as an able bodied person. The council cannot take action on this discrimination but they will help the individuals to take action.

Paul from PHAB FREEWHEELERS 01782 812625 has also had complaints from some of his members.

If you have any problems with this issue, please report it to email [email protected] or ring 01782 232774 

Alex Shaw has written the following guidance to help:

There are two kinds of vehicle that people call 'taxis' Hire Cars and
Hackney Carriages (which is the legal name for proper taxis) but so
far as the law is concerned they are very different.

Hire Cars have a yellow plate fitted at the rear of the vehicle which
bears a two or three digit number. They are not fitted with a meter
and can charge more or less what they want. If you are charged more
than you consider to be reasonable for travelling in one of these all
you can do is complain to the driver.

Real taxis (Hackney Carriages) have a white plate fixed at the rear
and have a TAXI sign on top and are fitted with a meter. What they can
charge you is fixed by the local authority and it is a criminal
offence if they charge you more.

You should not be charged more than the amount displayed on the meter
[plus say 50p at most but this is questionable, see item (3) below] so
if you are overcharged for a taxi journey and wish to complain you
must do the following.

(1) Make sure that the taxis meter is switched on and if not ask. Why?
(You will usually be told it is broken)

(2) Make a note of the journey start and end points.

(3) Note the time it takes to load and unload your chair (The drivers
often justify the extra charge as 'waiting time.' It is questionable
whether this is allowed but must not be more than 10p for each 40
second period)

(4) Make a note of the meter reading (If the meter is not switched on
note this also)

(5) Note the number on the white plate on the rear of the vehicle.

You must complain to the Licensing Department located in Hanley Town
Hall.

This may appear a little onerous but if you wish to succeed you will
need this information, however, in consolation, if you are overcharged
the taxi owner is legally obliged to refund your money and if they are
doing their job the council will also impose a penalty.

Alex Shaw
32 Albert St
Sandford Hill
ST3 5ED

[email protected]keontrent.plus.com

Telephone: 01782 341066

STAND has been assured that all instances of this kind of discrimination will be severely dealt with. Please let me know if you have any problems or successes after contacting Rachel as we are closely monitoring this situation.

GREAT NEWS

I had this email from Rachel this morning 25.8.15

 24/08/2015

 Dear Pam

 
Thank you for your email, Michael Clarke had also asked me to respond to you following the last STAND meeting.
 
We are aware of the concern around disabled people being charged more for a taxi / private hire journey than able-bodied people.
 
This practice is a clear breach of disability discrimination and equality legislation, but one that is unfortunately only a civil offence actionable by one of the parties to the discrimination.
 
Because the Equalities Act 2010 has not been fully commenced to allow us to take action against this practice, we are currently looking to amend our taxi and private hire policy to allow us to take enforcement action against the drivers and operators who are charging disabled people a higher fare.
 
Taxi drivers and operators already received training on this matter as part of obtaining a licence form the Council, which emphasises that discriminatory charging should not occur. From the BBC programme it was clear that the Council needs to do more to discourage it and to achieve this we are working on the following:
·        Revising the training given to new licence applicants
·        Requiring existing licence holders to attend regular refresher training
·        Introducing a licence condition adding discriminatory charging to the list of things that a licence holder must not do.
·        Introducing a licence condition clarifying that charging on the meter must not start until a passenger is seated and the vehicle is ready to move off
·        Clarifying our enforcement guidance to confirm that evidence of discriminatory charging will automatically trigger a review of the licence.
·         
These measures will require amendments to our taxi policy. Legally changes in policy have to be done following a process of consultation with members and the trade and so will take some months to introduce.
 
If you would like I can add you to our list consultees?
 
In the mean time we have written to all of our licensed private hire operators and hackney carriage (taxi)  to reinforce the training we provide and to confirm that if the Council receives a compliant from an individual suffering discrimination, we will provide assistance to them, if they wish to bring a civil case.
 
Thanks
Rachel.
 
 
Rachel Wallwork   Licensing Manager
Public Protection Division  
A member of STAND wrote this  to complain on 19.02.2016
Dear All,  Today I’ve been shopping in Tesco, Longton, Stoke on Trent.
Outside Tesco’s they operate a queueing system for Lucky Seven private hire taxis.  (Contract with Tesco, I’ve been told previously by a Lucky Seven driver on another visit to the store).  My partner pushed the shopping trolley whilst I self –propelled  myself in my Wheelchair to the taxi queue.  Initially, we were heading towards the first taxi in the queue, but the chap who was controlling/marshalling  the queue guided us to the large black cab (also Lucky Seven – badge no 220) who was in fact no.2 in the taxi queue.
 Luckily, because I have attended  (Stoke on Trent Area Network for Disabilities, STAND)  meetings at the Civic Offices in Stoke on Trent, my partner was aware of disabled people’s issues and STANDS issues regarding over-charging challenged/vunerable peoples struggles and financial problems of being over-charged by private hire cabs,  as this could contribute towards  people becoming isolated, cutting them off from society and becoming depressed. NHS and DWP expenses! My partner has also been aware of me travelling from Blurton to Stoke being charged £10, which would normally, if able bodied, would normally cost £3.50-£4.00! )  My partner asked the driver in the big cab if we would be chargedmore than the normal going rate for an abled person and he was told yes because it was a wheelchair client!  We both stated that to charge us more than the going rate would be discrimination of people with disabilities. We decided not to engage his services. I also stated I would inform the council of this experience.(Done)  We then went to the private hire car at the front of the queue(same company – Lucky Seven), loaded the wheel chair in the boot with our shopping and returned home at the going rate! (Abled body rate!)  Taxis/Hire cabs pick up drunks and drug abusers who must be more incapable than me! Maybe they do charge more for incapables, but they are also “vunerable” customers are they not?
I have since spoken to  a Tesco customer service department with reference to the above and been referred to the store managers e-mail address. (Copied in) I just wanted to highlight this issue to all good service providers (Tesco on this occasion) who are “blighted” by a poor “contracted customer service provider” Lucky Seven, in this case which could have repercussions for Tesco.  We can boycott if we wish! The taxi firm, not Tesco.  Tesco ,now informed, may wish to reconsider who they contract for add-on services.
I suggest all companies/businesses to have a “glance” at the website: STAND, (www.stand-stoke.org.uk) for a more sympathetic approach to disability and the challenges we may endure whilst visiting their sites.
Thank you for your consideration regarding this matter.
Yours sincerely.
Michelle
 March 16
Following Michelle’s complaint Lucky 7 said that there are 3 differing fees depending on the size of taxi/private hire, so there should be no extra charge if you are able to travel in an ordinary car size vehicle, but if you need a bigger vehicle eg mini bus with ramp then it will cost more.
Another interesting fact, Lucky 7 have taxis/hackney carriages and private hire vehicles. They can use taxis/hackney carriages as private hire but not the other way round.
 The Council say that ALL private hire have to be prebooked before you can travel. The taxi marshall cannot just put you in a private hire without prebooking. In Michelle’s cvase, Lucky 7 say that she travelled in a taxi not a private hire.
Confusing isn’t it?
STAND’s advice is to get a price before you travel, ask for a receipt and if you are unhappy COMPLAIN to the taxi/private hire firm in writing with a copy to [email protected] at the council and a copy to STAND.

Date of Next Meeting

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 11th March at 10.00am at Stoke Town Hall. We meet at the disabled entrance in Kingsway at 9.50 am so we can be escorted to our room. The agenda can be found by clicking this link Agenda Gen 11 April 17  The meeting is open to everyone, but you need to be a member to speak in the meeting. Membership is free and a membership form can be found on our membership page.

Abuse of Blue Badge Bays on Private land

The Supermarket survey showed up a big problem that disabled people have with the abuse of blue badge bays on land not owned by the local Authority.

STAND wrote to the department for Transport. Read their reply  Blue badge parking on private land

Apparently owners of land with disabled bays marked out DO have a responsibility to ensure that they are properly used. Failure to do this could constitute discrimination and a breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Parking On Pavements

STAND invited Matthew Ellis Police and Crime Commissioner to a meeting on 10th Feb 2015 to discuss the problems cause by inconsiderate people parking on pavements putting disabled, blind people and parents with pushchairs at risk.

Stand received the following news on 9th June 2015:

Ms Bryan,

Thank you for your email to the Commissioner. The Commissioner can confirm
that since your earlier meeting, there has been an introduction of ‘Police
Advisory Notice’ booklets. These booklets have been issued to all Local
Policing Teams across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent and are due to start
being used by local PCSO’s with effect from this week. The issuing of a
notice is subject to the following offences;

parking on a footpath;
facing the wrong way at night;
obstruction;

The Commissioner does hope that this information is of use. If I can be of
any further assistance then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Hayley Jenks
Business Support Officer

Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner
Weston Road
Stafford
ST18 0YY

Let us hope these advisory notices will make a difference

We were told by a member that the PCSOs had not been issued with these advisory notices so I emailed Matthew Ellis’s office and was assured that they had been issued with these notices so if you should spot a PCSO ignoring this problem, take his number, time, date and place and let Matthews office know. It is only with your help that anything will be done.

A Bill Asking for The Banning of Pavement Parking is to receive it’s second reading in Dec 2015.It was originally proposed by Martin Harwood but it ran out of time and did not receive a second reading. Simon Hoare MP proposed this Bill  this year [email protected] 

STAND has asked all our local MPs to support this Bill. Update Dec 8th 2015 Unfortunately the Government did not support this bill and it was thrown out!!!!!

Shows how much disabled peoples’ safety means. Many thanks to our wonderful local MPs who supported this bill.

Tristram Hunt MP was the first to reply

Dear Pam,
 
Thank you for your email regarding the Pavement Parking Private Members Bill, due for its second reading in December 2015.
 
I will give this Private Members Bill serious consideration when it comes before the House of Commons and will certainly vote in favour of it should it prove to help make access to our public highways easier for disabled members of the public.
 
Best wishes,
 
Tristram
I asked Matthew Ellis’s office if these notices had been given to PCSOs as no member had seen any evidence of their use.
Dear Pam

In relation to your last email I can confirm that all LPTs have been issued
with the advisory notices as Mr Ellis confirmed at the meeting he attended
with you and I have received confirmation that all PCSOs should be using
these. In order to progress your email further what I need to know is the
name of the officer and the area in which there is still an issue, this
will then allow the Commander who has overall responsibility for this
process to go to to the Local LPT to understand why there is a gap.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards

Veronica Powell
Executive Assistant

Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner
Weston Road
Stafford
ST18 0YY

Tel: 01785 232385

Twitter: @StaffsPCC
OPCC Website: www.Staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk
 March 16
Barry Brocklehurst from the Council has been asked to try to help in this matter. He is trying to get the City News to publish an article about the problems that pavement parking is causing.