Category Archives: Transport

Montgomery Canal waterway fun in Welshpool

The Canal & River Trust charity is organising a weekend of fun waterway activities at Welshpool Wharf, as part of the Welshpool Transport Festival on 23 and 24 June.

Boathorse Cracker by Dave Barker at Bywater Cruises

Boathorse Cracker by Dave Barker at Bywater Cruises

Free canoeing and coracle taster sessions will be on offer on the Saturday (10.00am-5.00pm) and paddle boarding taster sessions on the Sunday (10.00am-2.00pm). Narrowboat trips, also free courtesy of the Heulwen Trust, will be available throughout the weekend.

These activities and other community events are being promoted by the Canal & River Trust, which manages 2,000 miles of the nation’s waterways, as part of the Heritage Lottery-funded project to restore the Montgomery Canal.

Also on both days will be a rare opportunity to enjoy a horse-drawn boat trip along the Montgomery Canal. For the first time in years, this unique mode of transport will take visitors along the Welsh stretch of the waterway. Trips are heavily subsidised and cost only £2 per person. Tickets are available on the day from the bottom of Smithfield Car Park (postcode SY21 7DD).

Sylvia Edwards, Montgomery Canal community development officer with the Trust, explained: “This special weekend offers visitors a marvellous chance to try out a range of exciting activities on water. Research proves people feel happier and healthier by water so it’s a great event for introducing visitors and local residents to opportunities for enjoying leisure time on the beautiful waterway.

Canoeing

“For people with a more competitive streak, we are hosting a coracle relay race at 2pm on the Saturday. This is free to enter. No previous experience is necessary as participants will have chance to practise in the morning up to midday.

“We hope lots of supporters will come down for the race to cheer on the competitors.”

Teams of four need to have registered their coracle race entry by 21 June by emailing Sylvia.Edwards@canalrivertrust.org.uk or calling 07787 508 635.

Music will keep everything swinging along throughout the weekend and a special charity concert, in aid of the Montgomery Canal restoration, will be held on Saturday night in the Assembly Room at Welshpool Town Hall. Advance tickets at the special price of £8.00 each are available through the Restore the Montgomery Canal website or £10 on the door.

Known for its outstanding natural beauty, wildlife and heritage, the Montgomery Canal runs for 35 miles between England and Wales and is currently only partly navigable. This weekend of community activities are part of a much larger HLF-funded £4 million project which involves the creation of a new three-hectare wildlife habitat within Aston Locks Nature Reserve and navigation restored to 1¼ miles of the canal, from Maesbury to Crickheath in Shropshire.

A dedicated turning point for narrowboats, known as a ‘winding hole’, is also being created, enabling boats to return to the area for the first time since 1936 when the canal was closed. The project includes access improvements to the canal and nearly five miles of towpath upgraded.  The Canal & River Trust works with 15 partner organisations which make up the Montgomery Canal Partnership. The Partnership aims to restore the canal fully within the next decade as a haven for people and nature.

For more information about visiting your local canal, the Montgomery Canal restoration or becoming a Friend of the Canal & River Trust, please go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.

Law still not protecting overcharged disabled taxi passengers

A new law to protect disabled taxi passengers from being overcharged still doesn’t apply because most councils haven’t made the right preparations, according to disability activist research.

Taxi image

Only a third of councils in England, Wales and Scotland have created so-called Section 167 lists, which are needed to hold taxi drivers to account if they discriminate against disabled passengers.

A change in the Equality Act enacted in April last year means that taxi drivers now face fines of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or attempt to charge them extra. But this only applies to vehicles listed on Section 167 lists, which councils need to create.

Comprehensive research of 340 councils by disability activist Doug Paulley shows that most haven’t created them yet and 42 have no intention of ever doing so, despite a government-recommended deadline of October 2017.

The research lays bare the complex problems around the law change, with many councils confused as to their obligations. Around one in six councils that reported having a list in place have not met technical requirements, meaning they may not be legally useable.

The complexity has contributed to low awareness of the law change. No-one outside of London has attempted to use the law to hold taxi drivers to account for overcharging, ignoring or otherwise discriminating against disabled taxi passengers, despite the widespread and ongoing issues that Muscular Dystrophy UK hears from its supporters.

Nirav Shah, who has congenital muscular dystrophy and lives in Nottingham, said: “I’m a regular taxi user, but have had more bad experiences than good. Drivers have refused to take me, or have claimed that their ramp doesn’t work. I have also had some drive off and leave me on the pavement, and companies quoting twice what a metered fare would normally be. Disabled people should be able to get a taxi as easily as everyone else, and they certainly shouldn’t be charged more, but sadly this isn’t the case.”

Paulley’s research also shows:

  • 12 councils have no wheelchair-accessible taxis, with a further 109 having fewer than ten;
  • Only a third of councils provide disability awareness training, vital for ensuring taxi drivers know how to safely work with disabled people.

Muscular Dystrophy UK and Doug Paulley are calling for the Department for Transport to make the lists mandatory, arguing that the current system has proven unworkable.

Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information at Muscular Dystrophy UK, which lobbied for years for the law change, said: “Taxis are often the only way that disabled people can get from A to B when public transport isn’t an option but the new legislation simply isn’t working to help ensure they can do so safely and fairly. Doug’s research robustly demonstrates the impossible situation that many disabled people find themselves in. Passengers, taxi drivers and councils alike are crying out for clearer guidance, and we need to see the taxi lists made mandatory, to make this well-intentioned law workable.”

Doug Paulley carried out the research following a Select Committee report into the Equality Act 2010 on disability. He said: “This new research provides a mixed bag of results: while some councils have made an effort to create a list, many have fallen foul of the complex fine print in the rules, leaving most passengers unable to use the new legislation. Councils alone can’t unpick the confusion. We need to see a stronger lead from the Department for Transport if disabled people are to get the tools they need to challenge overcharging and unsafe practices.”

Research by Muscular Dystrophy UK in 2016 indicated that a quarter of disabled people have been refused service by a taxi driver, purely because they are disabled.

For more information, visit: www.musculardystrophyuk.org.

 

Local businesses invited to support Music for the Monty

Music for the Monty will be taking place in Welshpool during the Welshpool Transport Festival (Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 June 2018) with the aim of drawing attention to the campaign to reopen the Montgomery Canal.

Music for the Monty logoMusic for the Monty will see musicians busking at a number of venues around the town to add a musical twist to the town’s Transport Festival and provide additional entertainment for visitors. In addition, there will be an evening concert in Welshpool Town Hall.

All proceeds from the busking and concert tickets will be passed on to the official charities raising funds to reopen the Montgomery Canal through to the Welsh border.

Already a dozen musicians and bands have volunteered to take part in Music for the Monty and the line-up for the evening performance is currently being put together.

The organisers are now offering businesses the opportunity to become sponsors of Music for the Monty.

Said David Aylwin of Music for the Monty: “We are really pleased with the number of musicians who have come forward to help support our event and there is still room for more.”

“We are also keen to work with local businesses who are willing to support us in our objectives of promoting local talent and restoring the Montgomery Canal. In return, we are offering free tickets to the evening concert, the opportunity to publicise your business to festival visitors and, of course, a sense of pride in helping us reopen this historic canal, which could connect Welshpool to the rest of the canal network and provide a tourism boost to the town’s economy and the surrounding areas.”

To find out more about Music for the Monty, please visit www.musicforthemonty.co.uk.

Equality Act taxi changes come into force

On 6th April 2017, sections 165 and 167 of the Equality Act 2010 officially commenced, offering new protection to disabled people travelling in a taxi.

Equality Act taxi changes come into forceThe change in law brings three key new protections to disabled people in England and Wales.  This means that taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will be obliged by law to:

  • Transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
  • Provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
  • Charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users.

Any drivers who do not follow these rules and don’t have a medical exemption will face a possible £1,000 fine.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:We are committed to building transport networks that work for everyone, ensuring that disabled people have the same access to services and opportunities to travel as anyone else. Disabled people are often heavily reliant on taxis and private hire vehicles and this change to the law will mean fair and equal treatment for all.

“The new rules will apply in England, Wales and Scotland affecting vehicles that are designated as wheelchair accessible and will apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles. All taxis in London and a significant number in most major urban centres are wheelchair accessible.”

In a change to the law drivers found to be discriminating against wheelchair users face fines of up to £1000 as part of provisions being enacted from the Equality Act. Drivers may also face having their taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence suspended or revoked by their licencing authority. Drivers unable to provide assistance for medical reasons will be able to apply to their licensing authority for an exemption from the new requirements.

It is hoped that these new requirements on taxi and private hire vehicles will complement the rules already in place to prevent discrimination against the use of assistance dogs and underline Government’s wide-ranging commitment to supporting transport networks for everyone.

Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “This is a victory for all people with disabilities who experience daily struggles with accessible transport.

“Being able to get from A to B is usually very easy for most people, however we know that this can be a challenge that affects a disabled person’s entire life, including their ability to have a job and play an active part in society.  This is a positive and very welcome step in the right direction which we hope will not affect the number of accessible taxis being made available by companies because of the duties now being placed on to drivers.

“Muscular Dystrophy UK and our Trailblazers have been campaigning on this issue for many years, and we commend the government for listening to the views of disabled people.”

Muscular Dystrophy UK is the charity bringing individuals, families and professionals together to beat muscle-wasting conditions. Find out more on their website: www.musculardystrophyuk.org.

Post Carbon Co-ops – opportunities out of crises?

Post Carbon Co-ops logoA conference that takes place in the New Year will be addressing the post carbon landscape from a co-operative perspective.

The current energy bonanza based on fossil fuels cannot go on forever. Climate change reasons apart, fossil fuels are not inexhaustible. New extraction methods such as fracking promise false hope and renewables can never recreate the massive energy surplus that oil, coal and gas have provided.

The conference entitled Post Carbon Co-ops aims to bring co-operative activists together with activists from other progressive organisations to debate some of the key issues facing our future.

The post carbon landscape will impact on all areas of everyone’s lives, from access to food and transport, to energy and manufacturing. Post Carbon Co-ops will examine how co-ops can provide solutions.

Dr Mark Simmonds from Co-op Culture, who is one of the keynote speakers at the Future Co-ops conference, said: “In these times of economic uncertainty, resource depletion and climate change, the one thing we can be sure of is that the world will become a very different place in the short to medium term.

“Energy descent, in particular, will increasingly become a fact of life. We need to think strategically about the co-operative response to this challenge. How can communities co-operate to build resilience? What does a post-carbon co-operative economy that can survive and thrive, look like?”

According to Jo White of Co-operative Futures, the organisers of the event, co-operatives have led the way in offering solutions to emerging crises and the co-ops of the future need to start planning for the post carbon landscape.

“We are looking forward to welcoming a wide range of activists to Post Carbon Co-ops in February and we are hoping to move the debate forward on positive co-operative solutions for a low carbon future.”

Post Carbon Co-ops takes place on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th February 2017 at Jurys Inn in Cheltenham and delegates can book their place at early bird prices online now.

Sponsor a mile of National Cycle Network

Sponsor Your MilePeople are being offered the chance to sponsor a mile of the National Cycle Network as a gift for their friends and family this Christmas.

The initiative has been launched by sustainable transport charity Sustrans and allows supporters to sponsor any of the network’s 14,000 miles.

As well as receiving a personalised certificate, fridge magnet and regular updates, supporters will get a Christmas message and an image of their mile.

Funds raised will help the charity maintain hundreds of miles of the network, which was used by 4.8 million people in 2013.

Julian Hall, director of fundraising at Sustrans, said: “The National Cycle Network is enjoyed by millions each year and many people have a favourite mile – whether it’s somewhere they have enjoyed walking or cycling with loved ones or somewhere that is particularly scenic.

“Sponsor A Mile allows people to buy a unique gift for someone which in turn will help the charity maintain routes for years to come.”

Sponsor A Mile costs £30. To find out more, click here.

‘Seadog’ wins limerick competition

A man from North Lincolnshire has beaten off competition from more than 100 people in the UK, Europe and America to win a limerick competition celebrating life at sea.

Michael Green triumphed in the annual contest organised by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.

Entries in the Seafaring Limerick Competition were judged by celebrity poet and Radio 4 regular Matt Harvey.

Michael, from New Holland, wrote:

There was an old seadog from Hull
Whose features resembled a gull
His voice was a squawk
His waddle a walk
And his outlook was invariably dull

Michael entered the competition due to his love of limericks and a family connection with the sea. His late Great Uncle served on the Queen Mary and his sister on the QE2.

He said: “I was delighted to win. I have fed the society’s iconic red collection mines along the coast since I was a young boy and now, with the benefit of access to the organisation’s website, have a much better understanding of the value of the work they undertake.”

In the under-18 category, the winner was seven-year-old Eben Cohen-King from Devon, who entered the competition after his father taught him about limericks during his Easter holidays.

His winning entry read:

A thoughtful life boatman called Dave
is very kind and brave;
He once saved the life
of a man and his wife
when they had got stuck in a cave.

Judge Matt said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to judge this year’s limerick competition. The sea has a connection with everyone in some way, whether as a source of food or to provide a career, and we definitely saw this range of maritime experiences expressed in the poems.

“I know each year the society sees cases of people who have dedicated so much of their lives to our seas and I was proud to help the society encourage more people to get access to help in times of difficulty.”

The winners received a recording of their poems being read by Matt Harvey. In addition, Michael was given an engraved barometer while Eben received a portable sundial.

The Chichester-based society provides financial support and advice to retired seafarers in need.

Watch Judge Matt Harvey read the limericks:

TV’s Kirsty backs cycle challenge

Kirsty Gallacher is calling on parents to ditch their cars and cycle to school with their children.

The TV presenter is backing the Big Pedal campaign from charity Sustrans, which sees pupils, teachers and parents get on their bikes for the school run.

Schools which sign up to the scheme will be entered in a virtual stage race around the UK. Pupils can help their school complete the race by cycling to school.

Prizes are on offer for the winning schools. The race is funded by the Bike Hub and powered by Sustrans, which encourages people to travel on foot, by bike or public transport for their daily journeys.

Schools will also raise money for Sustrans on February 28, when pupils can donate £1 to dress up as their favourite superhero.

Kirsty said: “Cycling the school run is a great way for kids and parents to get active and have some fun together. Sustrans’ Big Pedal competition is the perfect opportunity to give it a go.”
More than 950 schools took part in the Big Pedal 2012. According to Sustrans, their combined efforts saved 59,021 gallons of fuel, equivalent to £368,484.

Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans chief executive, said: “The average primary school journey is just 1.5 miles, the perfect distance to walk or cycle. Every year The Big Pedal helps tens of thousands of families rediscover the fun and freedom of cycling to school, get fit and save money at the same time.

“Evidence shows how children that cycle to school regularly are more active and better learners, it’s time for us all to get on our bikes.”

Sustrans is calling on parents, teachers and pupils to cycle to school between February 28 and March 20. To get involved in the Big Pedal, go to http://www.bigpedal.org.uk.