Archives for category: Transport

It is 70 years since the era of public rail ownership began in Great Britain. The British Transport Commission formally took control of the operation and planning of the whole network, having been brought into existence by Clement Attlee’s Labour government under the Transport Act 1947 (the name British Rail didn’t appear until 1965).

At the time, the network was in dire need of investment. The Railways Act 1921 had consolidated over 100 operators into “the big four” – Great Western; London, Midland & Scottish; London & North Eastern; and Southern Railways. They had been financially squeezed by rules that forced them to carry freight at rates that were often unprofitable, and competition from an emerging road sector that had been prioritised for public investment.

The rail network had then been worn to the bone in supporting the war effort and considerably damaged by German Luftwaffe bombing. Rail safety had become a serious concern: two major accidents in the southand north of England within two days in October 1947, resulted in 60 fatalities, and contributed to that year being the second deadliest in British railway history.


Source: Britain’s railways were nationalised 70 years ago – let’s not do it again : The Conversation


A disabled man refused an Uber ride home from a Cardiff party on New Year’s Eve has said he is convinced it was because of his cerebral palsy.

Ted Shiress, who walks with a frame, said the taxi driver drove off after being asked to move closer so he could get in the car.

The 30-year-old said his friend was then charged a £4 cancellation fee for not using the ride.

Mr Shiress said he was “used to things like this happening”, adding “you get a bit jaded after a while”.

Uber has since apologised to Mr Shiress on Twitter.


Source: Disabled Comedian Ted Shiress Refused Uber In Cardiff On NYE

The Scottish government has announced the extension of a scheme to support disabled people to live independently. It’s in stark contrast to the actions of the UK government. Actions which the UN has previously said amount to “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights.

Forward thinking?

Nicola Sturgeon’s government has said it will be permanently extending the blue badge parking scheme in Scotland to cover the “carers and relatives” of people who “pose a risk to themselves or others in traffic”. This would cover people living with conditions such as dementia, autism, and Down’s syndrome. The move has come off the back of a pilot scheme launched in April 2016.

Currently in England [pdf], people generally only get a blue badge if they have difficulty walking more than 50m, or if they have other issues with physically getting around. But as Scotland’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said:

It’s so important that people with disabilities, including cognitive impairments, can live a life of equal opportunities.

He said of the pilot scheme and the working group involved with the blue badge reforms:


Source: Nicola Sturgeon just shamed the UK government with some great news for disabled people | The Canary

December 2017 PIP ruling

In December 2017 the courts ruled that changes to PIP discriminate against people with mental health problems. Read our information about what this might means for people claiming PIP.

What were the changes to PIP the Government made in March?

PIP is awarded in two parts. One part looks at how your mental health affects your daily life, and the other looks at how your mental health affects your ability to travel and make journeys. In March 2017 the Government changed the law so that people who find it hard to make journeys because they become very distressed are entitled to less support from PIP.

Under the changes it’s still possible to qualify for the higher amount of support from PIP if you have a mental health problem but it is harder because the Government will not take into account distress. It says that it still takes into account how your mental health might affect your thinking, memory, and attention, or your ability to keep yourself and others safe when making a journey.

What does the ruling say?

The ruling says that the changes the Government made to PIP earlier this year are unlawful because:

  • They unjustifiably discriminate against people with mental health problems
  • The Government didn’t consult on them
  • The Government didn’t have the right powers to make them

Source : December 2017 PIP Change FAQs | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems

If we can believe this about re-nationalising, but I remember the railway, British Railways and British Rail between 1948 and 1997, this was far from successful as there were outdated and dirty trains, food not fit to eat (Railway sandwich) was the butt of jokes, trains not running on time and a total failure to invest in rail Stations, railway rolling stock, network (track, signals, etc). The UK was originally at the fore of the railways, with the pioneers of George and Robert Stephenson, Richard Trevithick, etc., but this advantage was not continued through the 1900’s has investment was managed politically.

Other countries progressed ahead and we are still playing catchup.

The infrastructure was originally also privatised, but in 2002 was effectively re-nationalised and the infrastructure is still responsible for a number of the delays experienced by the private train operators.

Will re-nationalising bring great improvements or will politics be in the way again.

But it may be better than it is at the moment, but will it be more of the same eventually.


Labour’s excellent Shadow Transport Secretary, Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, has issued a strong video statement on the government’s £2 billion bail-out of the failed East Coast rail franchise – and on the wider context of the disaster of rail privatisation and Labour’s plans to renationalise rail.

McDonald points out that the only time in its history that the East Coast line has been profitable is when Labour took it back into public ownership – and that yet again the British public is expected to pay for the failure of supposedly efficient private contractors:

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Well said. on one hand sick and disabled people are being assessed as ‘fit for work’ without any idea if such work is available and if it is will the reasonable adjustments be made by the respective employers. Also are these such employments in the same areas of the country as the persons assessed to be ‘fit for work’, as if they are not how can these sick and disabled persons access these employments, will there be support to do so and if so will the persons be able to access this support on a regular basis.

This, of course, is dependent on the accuracy of these work assessments, as the appeal system reverses many that are not.

Pat's Petition

If you keep doing the same thing you will keep getting the same result. These policies have been tried for eight years now and failed and failed. They will fail again.

Theresa May has announced new initiatives to get a million sick and disabled people into work:

Theresa May has described the aspiration to enable one million sick and disabled people in to work, but Pat’s Petition has noticed a road block in the way.

We celebrate the progress that has already been made in helping sick and disabled people in to work, but highlight that this is limited to people who can compete in the open labour market using ‘reasonable adjustments’ made by the employer. But many sick and disabled people will tell you that employers say their requested adjustments are ‘unreasonable’, and that they are then excluded from employment.

We question how many employers will make…

View original post 223 more words


  • Evidence suggests Tony Blair’s government ignored warnings about diesel cars
  • Records showed ministers were aware the diesel vehicles emit more toxic fumes
  • Michael Gove said the documents showed Labour pursued ‘the dash for diesel’

By James Salmon, Transport Editor For The Daily Mail

Fresh evidence of how Tony Blair‘s Labour government ignored health warnings about diesel vehicles before encouraging millions to buy them has emerged.

Confidential records released by the Treasury yesterday confirmed ministers were well aware that diesel vehicles emit more toxic fumes.

But they show how officials preparing the 2000 budget argued against higher tax for diesel cars ‘so we are not seen as being overly harsh on diesel users’.

The documents were released by the Treasury after a two-year battle with the BBC which lodged a Freedom of Information Act request.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the documents showed Labour pursued ‘the dash for diesel’ despite knowing the dangers, adding it was ‘another example of a Conservative government having to clean up Labour’s mess’.

Evidence suggests Tony Blair's Labour government ignored health warnings about diesel cars 

Advice from the Treasury’s tax policy section presented to ministers stated: ‘Relative to petrol, diesel has lower emissions of CO2 but higher emissions of the particulates and pollutants which damage local air quality.

‘A diesel supplement is necessary so that we do not create incentives for people to choose diesel vehicles over similar petrol models in order to attract a lower Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rate.’

But officials were worried how this would be perceived, saying: ‘Presentationally, this should be seen as ensuring fair treatment of petrol and diesel, rather than as a penalty on diesel users.’

In the budget the following year, the then Chancellor Gordon Brown introduced a major overhaul of VED which caused sales of diesel cars to boom.

This was a deliberate ploy – following advice from scientists – to cut down on carbon emissions and tackle global warming. Instead of basing the tax on the size of the engine, the new VED system was based on carbon emissions. This favoured diesel cars which are generally more fuel efficient.

The number of diesel cars on the road soared from 3.5 million to more than 12 million. But politicians are now desperately trying to persuade motorists to ditch diesel, and switch to petrol or low emission vehicles such as electric cars.

Michael Gove said the documents showed Labour pursued 'the dash for diesel' despite knowing the dangers


Ministers have ordered councils to devise schemes to crack down on pollution, including extra charges on motorists driving into town centres or even to park their cars.

There are fears Chancellor Philip Hammond will announce a fuel duty tax rise for diesel car owners in his Budget next Wednesday.

Mr Gove said: ‘The dash for diesel was pursued under a Labour government, and these documents show they knew the damage this would do to our environment.’

Edmund King, president of the AA said: ‘These FoI records just confirm that the previous Labour government knew there were problems with diesels and air quality but chose to ignore it. This will only heighten the sense of injustice felt by millions of people who bought their diesel cars in good faith.’

The Treasury said it could not comment on decisions taken under a previous government. It refused to comment on the reasons for the two-year FoI delay.


Source : Damning new proof that Labour ignored fears over diesel: Confidential records show ministers knew vehicles powered by the fuel emitted more toxic fumes  : Mail Online

A new handbook on direct action, a national day of action on inclusive education, and a call for healthcare professionals to boycott disability benefit assessments were among campaign ideas suggested by disabled activists at a national conference.

The National Disabled People’s Summit saw up to 200 Deaf and disabled activists discussing ways to coordinate the fight against austerity and “reinvigorate” the disabled people’s movement.

Sean McGovern, co-chair of the TUC’s disabled workers’ committee, who chaired the event, said disabled people had not “passively” accepted the attack on their rights and services over the last nine years.

He told the conference that the aim of the event was to bring together Deaf and disabled people from the trade union movement, Deaf and disabled people’s organisations, and grassroots campaigns to “find ways to better pool our knowledge and experiences” and organise joint campaigning.

He said: “We are trying to get together to build our resources together… and hopefully stop fighting battles separately.”

A key part of the event saw disabled people take part in workshops aimed at producing ideas for future campaigning across areas such as accessible transport, inclusive education, independent living and social security.

Other workshops discussed how to develop those campaigns, for example through direct action and protests, trade union organising, and using the law and media.

The conference, at the headquarters of the National Education Union in central London, was funded by unions, and co-organised by the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance.

Among the ideas suggested were the need for a national strategy and set of principles describing the aims of the disabled people’s movement, and for a new handbook for direct action protests, which would take leads from the activists’ handbook developed by the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) and the activist toolkit used by the US disabled people’s grassroots group ADAPT.

The conference heard that there was a need to “spread protest and direct action everywhere”.

Other workshops suggested the need for a national education service that is “inclusive from the top to the bottom”, and called for a national day of action that highlights both the “good things that are happening” in inclusive education and the “threats” it is facing.

On independent living, fears were raised about the reinstitutionalisation of disabled people, particularly concerns about the number of people with learning difficulties being forced into long-stay private hospitals.

There were also calls for a legal right to independent living through a free national independent living service, paid for from general taxation, and for “real choice and control, where disabled people are in control and not professionals or social workers”.

On accessible transport, ideas for campaigns included a focus on the importance of disabled passengers being able to “turn up and go”, which the summit heard was “gradually being phased out” by train companies.

On mental health, there was a call for recognition that all people “contribute to society even if not contributing to profit”, for an emphasis on the “social causes of mental distress”, and for unions “to be able to represent people both working and not working and recognise us all as members of the working class”.

Among the campaign ideas on social security was a challenge to nurses and doctors who are members of the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association, and who carry out disability benefit assessments, to “down tools and not take part” in such testing for ethical reasons.

There were also objections to Labour’s “pause and fix” policy position on universal credit, with activists demanding instead that the line on the government’s new working-age benefits system should be to “stop and scrap” it.

On disability hate crime, there were calls for more to be done to challenge and report such offences and to pursue them with the authorities “because we need charges, convictions and sentencing in order to make people confident to go down this path”.

There was also a call to “find allies in the police, Crown Prosecution Service and local authorities and elsewhere and work with them”, and to develop allies and alliances across different equality strands and build on their past successes, for example in combatting race hate crime.

Other workshops produced calls for international solidarity with disabled migrants and refugees and disabled people facing starvation in other countries; and the need for better training for union representatives, so they can provide improved support for disabled employees.

There was a recognition that cuts to jobs and services mean people are “having to work harder and faster in much more difficult conditions”; a call for regular disability arts protests; and for attention to be paid to the barriers faced by disabled people who are “intersectional”, such as black disabled women, or gay disabled men.

And there was a call for a new hub where disabled people and their organisations could share information and resources, for example on benefit assessments and appeals, as a way of taking action to “increase our knowledge of our rights, but equally importantly how we use that knowledge in our lives”, such as in day-to-day communication with social workers or service-providers or in “big strategic legal action cases”.

Ideas that came out of the workshops will now be collated and worked into a report to be published in the next few months.

News provided by John Pring at


Source : Summit hears calls on direct action, assessment boycotts and hate crime : DisabledGo News

SCOTLAND’s best known business siblings, Sir Brian Souter and Ann Gloag, have ended their joint investment business to follow “their own very…

Source: Stagecoach founders and Scottish business tycoons Brian Souter and Ann Gloag split investment business | HeraldScotland

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