Jan 102016
 
BOU14_97_aR CHO102 DE12BQTSF01R flowers

I have just successfully sued TelefloristEflorist / Euroflorist after they let me down badly and didn’t give a stuff.

We had a family celebration holiday at the frankly wonderful Calvert Trust Kielder. On Sunday, the day before we traveled, I decided to order some flowers and chocolates to be in the room for when my family arrives on the Monday. I had a problem: Calvert Trust Kielder is so remote that most companies don’t do same or next day flower delivery – so I shopped around to find one that did. I settled on Teleflorists, who accepted my order for next day delivery without problems. I ordered a “Coral Bouquet” plus “Milk Chocolate 9s” and paid £40.95 including next day delivery.

All looks rather lovely, I thought; and all sorted so easily!.

Till I got an email the next day, sent at 3:23pm: “We are sorry but despite our best efforts we have not been able to find a florist who can deliver your order.” Well that’s just great, isn’t it. “We would like to offer you a courier delivered item called Pink Lady and also include a vase. This would be sent on the next available delivery date, which is Tuesday. … Kindly reply by 4pm to ensure we can deliver on the next available delivery date.” They gave me 37 minutes notice to respond if I wanted them to arrive the day after they should originally have done. They were lucky to catch me at all: it came through on my mobile just before I lost signal. I couldn’t see the “pink lady” (ooh-er, missus) as I didn’t have enough mobile connection to download a picture, so they emailed me at 4pm to say they’d decided to order it anyway without my say-so. I can see now, however, what they should look like – “A heartwarming bouquet of cerise Gerberas, pink Roses and purple Alstroemeria.

We arrived on the Monday, but the flowers didn’t. They didn’t arrive on the Tuesday, either. Eventually, after much chasing, they turned up on the Wednesday. (The delivery label indicated that they hadn’t even been posted until the Tuesday.)

Let’s check the flowers I ordered, then the flowers I blindly accepted to be delivered a day later, then the actual flowers that arrived a day after that (on day three of the four-day holiday.)

BOU14_97_aR CHO102 DE12BQTSF01R flowers
“D day” (no-show)… A day late (no-show)… Two days late.
And no chocolates!

Yeah, thanks Teleflorist, that was so worth waiting the extra two days for. That truly looks like “a heartwarming bouquet of cerise Gerberas, pink Roses and purple Alstroemeria.

I complained (unusual for me!)

My remaining issues are that you took an order for delivery on a date what you knew you couldn’t make, that you didn’t tell me that until mid afternoon on the supposed day of delivery, that you only contacted me by email and gave me a very limited period to respond, that you promised that delivery would occur on the next day, that in fact you didn’t arrange for delivery until the day after that, that you failed to keep me updated about the delays, and that the flowers were not of a satisfactory standard when they did arrive. Instead of this being a nice surprise and an asset to (our family) celebrations, it has become a drag and a disappointment.

Their response?

Having reviewed the photograph you have been kind enough to provide, we’re pleased to see that these flowers are within our expectations, please ensure the water is changed and the vase is clean. This will serve to maximise the life of the flowers and mean more enjoyment.

Yeah, how unfair of me, I shouldn’t be so demanding of the quality of my flowers, what they sent me is clearly nearly as good as the photo. Silly me.

They lied in response to my TrustPilot review, (“a member of our customer service team has been in contact and this has now been resolved”) then they failed to respond to any further correspondence or any other elements of my complaint.

So I sued them. They didn’t even respond to legal action on time, so I was awaiting default judgment; but today, I received their admission – they “admit the full amount claimed” – and a full refund by cheque.

They claim to have signed their form on the last day they could legally have responded to my case (29th December) (yeah right, 11 days have gone by, even at peak times Royal Mail aren’t that slow) so I’m now applying for a judgment with interest, to make sure they end up on the register of adverse County Court judgments for the next six years.

What have I learned from this? Basically:

Do NOT use Eflorist / Teleflorist / Euroflorist.

They are incompetent, they don’t give a stuff and they lie.

On the nature of party balloons and catheters

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Dec 112015
 

When you deflate a balloon it never goes back to its original shape.

party-balloons-background_zps727ce43f copy

This isn’t usually a problem. But it is in this context.

cathetersThose are silicone Foley catheters, if you are wondering. I’ve got a hole through my abdomen into my bladder, into which the above gets pushed (with medical lubrication) and is held in place by inflating the balloon. This is the mechanism by which I pass water – a suprapubic catheter. The other end gets attached to a leg bag, which is a urine collection device; an external, plastic bladder if you will.

441(This gives the general idea. I recommend against Googling for photos, as many are a bit graphic. Oh. My. God.)

The catheter goes through a sinus, that is a skin tube through my layers of blubber and into my bladder. It’s a few centimetres long and it forms itself size-wise to the catheter. It has healed completely, a bit like a body piercing, as it were.

This is all fine and dandy except that every so often the catheter needs changing; over ten weeks or so the balloon goes down a bit, the catheter gets a bit mucky and coated and the silicon in the catheter starts to go funny. So the balloon is deflated, in theory reducing the tube to its original shape so it can be pulled out the same way it went in.

In. Theory.

Those blooming wrinkles. They are a right blooming pain. No matter how slowly you go, how careful you are, getting those wrinkles through the hole in the bladder wall, and through that skin tunnel, always knacks. The tunnel just isn’t made for that..

I usually try to do it with ibuprofen and cocodamol, and with the aid of some local anaesthetic in the lubricant. It’s still horrific though. Last night I tried getting drunk. That helped a lot! – a great painkiller, it made sure the new tube was well flushed, and I can barely remember it.

But there has to be a better solution, doesn’t there? Surely it isn’t beyond the ability of material science to create a catheter in which the balloon completely deflates back to where it was? I know there are lots of other things to consider as well – resistant to infections etc. – but even so.

Oh, whilst you’re at it, catheter manufacturers, how’s about supplying leg urine bags WITHOUT leaving the tap open, and WITH the end pushed on properly? (I think they must want to give unsuspecting people smelly wet sock syndrome.)

Yeah, thank you for that Conveen, I'm sure it's very funny to give inattentive people urine-ensoaked socks and trousers...

Yeah, thank you for that Coloplast, I’m sure it’s very funny to give inattentive people urine-soaked socks and trousers…

Proof of email server receipt = proof of receipt of FOI request

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Nov 282015
 

The ICO has decided in decision notice FS50559082 (yet to appear on the ICO’s website, so for now check the annotation on WhatDoTheyKnow) that server logs indicating receipt by a public authority’s email server constitute persuasive proof that the authority received the request.

12. The Commissioner notes that there is evidence to show that around the period the request was made the Cabinet Office was having difficulty receiving emails from the Whatdotheyknow site. However, the Commissioner was given confirmation from the Whatdotheyknow website that the request in this instance was received by the Cabinet Office’s email servers.

13. The Commissioner considers that there is sufficient evidence to show that the Cabinet Office had received the request on the date it was sent by the complainant.

In this case, the Cabinet Office’s email MX server in receipt of the email i by Symmantec’s “Message Labs” cloud-based email security platform. It is possible that the request was lost in Symmantec’s system and not the Cabinet Office (perhaps falsely classed as spam.)

WhatDoTheyKnow always keep email server logs (barring any exceptional technical problems) and so administrators are always able to prove the authority’s receipt of the request. (We have suggested that this information should be directly available to our users.) Similarly, my website hosts (Penguin UK) keep email server logs for a limited period and customers can get a copy of the log entry in question. I should imagine that other hosts using CPanel should offer the same facility.

When making FOI requests by email (or perhaps even when making subject access requests), requesters may wish to get and keep a copy of the mail server log proving the body’s receipt of the request – particularly where the body doesn’t issue automatic acknowledgements of such emails and/or has a …. patchy record of compliance with the Act, like the Cabinet Office.

H/t JT Oakley / @jatroa for pursuing this issue.

 

Nov 212015
 
cartoon by Crippen

And when we want your opinion, we’ll tell you what it is!

Clare Pelham, Leonard Cheshire’s Chief Executive Officer, was interviewed by Peter White today on Radio 4 “You and Yours” about disabled peoples’ difficulties in accessing buses. This is because their survey of 179 wheelchair users found “over nine out of ten (92%) wheelchair users had been refused a space on a bus” and “three in five (61%) people identified buggies in the wheelchair space as the biggest problem they faced. This was way ahead of other problems faced by those using wheelchairs“.

Peter White asked her specifically if she thought that the Paulley vs Firstbus case would find in my favour at Supreme Court.

Peter White: “So this case, that is still going to the Supreme Court, are you expecting that to be restored? Mr Paulley‘s right to get on the bus?”

Clare Pelham: “I don’t think I would even presume to guess what Supreme Court judges would find. But actually, I think this shouldn’t be a case for the law. This should be a case for the people, the people to do what’s right, whether they are bus drivers or passengers, we all want to have public transport that enables all of the public to travel.”

That obviously works well, doesn’t it. People with pushchairs, other passengers, drivers, they all know and understand that if the wheelchair space isn’t made available, a wheelchair user can’t travel. Yet by her own figures, 61% of wheelchair users identify buggies in the wheelchair space as the biggest problem they face. Just how does she think the few people with pushchairs, other passengers and drivers who currently prevent wheelchair users traveling are suddenly going to realise the error of their ways? How, precisely, is she going to instill this magnanimity into the British populace? Through simpering on Radio 4?

Leonard Cheshire try to claim to be the voice of disabled people, a campaigning force to be reckoned with. That’s why they spend £735,000 per year on “campaigning”, and why they have posh offices in Vauxhaul – ostensibly so they can toddle round the corner to lobby Parliament. (They grew too big for their previous offices in Millbank.) Yet they don’t have any legitimacy. They don’t have a constituency, and politically active disabled people despise them. They also don’t walk the walk for the talk they talk, as demonstrated by Northumbria University’s research – an apposite quote below.

“One of the problems it (user involvement) causes is when residents become more empowered and aware of the opportunities of life they’re likely to ask for more. In asking for more, it usually involves staff, and resources are already very scarce and limited, and centred mainly in providing basic daily care in washing, dressing, eating and they occupy an awful lot of time. Empowerment creates problems of staff support. And if the choice of empowerment involves travel then that’s a further added burden. Not necessarily to pay the cost of travelling but to have the opportunity with limited transport or escort.” – A resident in a Leonard Cheshire care home.

Yet even Leonard Cheshire recognise that the Firstbus case is an important fight. Andy Cole (Minister for Administrative Aff – sorry, Director of Corporate Affairs) told BBC News that Leonard Cheshire was disappointed with the Appeal Court judgement as it did not provide “clarity and certainty for disabled bus passengers that the space they need will definitely be made available“, and further that if the case moved to the Supreme Court he hoped any judgement would provide that certainty. (He even gave me a back-handed compliment; “The case shows the immense impact that individual campaigners can have“).

One wonders what planet Clare Pelham is on. Out of touch with service users, disabled people, her own care-workers and even her own campaign team (or at least her Ashley Maddison rep – sorry, “Director of Corporate Affairs”.)

Non-disabled and on £150,000 per year plus private medical treatment and other benefits – surely Clare Pelham should shut up or carry on her disempowering self-serving greasy-pole-climbing elsewhere?

With thanks as ever to the wonderful Dave Lupton / Crippen for his excellent cartoon.

Nov 172015
 

There’s a coach service that stops in Wetherby, my home town, once a day in each direction, to Newcastle upon Tyne via Durham and southbound to Nottingham via Leeds and Sheffield. I thought I’d try it out, because National Express now claim that “virtually all of our fleet now has a passenger lift at the front entrance to make travelling with us as accessible as possible.” But I note that “We must therefore assess all wheelchairs to see if they are compatible for carriage on the coach itself. You can do this by calling our dedicated Assisted Travel Team before you travel.” I therefore rang them to ask if my wheelchair and the Wetherby stop is OK. They said they would get back to me and didn’t. What followed was Kafkaesque.

Me, 28th April: Please can you tell me if I can travel in my wheelchair, it’s a manual wheelchair, a RGK Maxima. Please can you tell me if Wetherby coach stop is accessible for your coaches?

NX, 29th April: I can confirm that your wheelchair has been safety checked with our services so that is fine. Wetherby is a stop that we would need to assess to see if it is accessible.

Me, 29th April: Please can you assess Wetherby stop

NX, 30th April: Your request has been sent off to the relevant department to assess.Please can you check with us once you have decided upon a date of travel so that we can check to see if the assessment has been done. I hope this helps.

WTF?! They asked me for a travel date for the stop I didn’t know whether I could use. How does that work?

Me, 30th April:No, please can you let me know when it’s been done, and how long it will take, rather than asking me to contact you on some nebulous future date?

Me, 8th May: So have you had a look at this stop yet?

NX, 8th May: The stop check has been requested however has yet to be scheduled in.The stop will be scheduled in and checked when our Safety team are within that region. Each member of the Safety team are in charge of one region each and while this is the case, due to the region being quite large, it may take some time for this stop to be checked. I thank you for your patience in the meantime.

Me, 21st May: Please can you tell me if you have assessed the Wetherby bus stop, and if not, when you will be able to do so

Me, 31st July: Have you checked the Wetherby bus stop yet?

NX, 6th August: I am sorry for the delay. I have spoken to the department that checks stops and they have advised that they aim to have the check done by the end of this month. Thank you for your patience in the meantime.

NX, 17th November: I am really sorry for the delay in our response.The Wetherby stop has been checked and I am sorry to inform the verdict has come back as the stop being inaccessible. The space in use is not flat and does not have sufficient amount of space for it to be deployed.I hope this information helps, thank you for your patience whilst this was looked into.

Yeah that helped loads, thank you National Express, and 6½ months is a perfectly reasonable time to tell me that the stop I use for local buses without problem is not accessible to your “accessible” coaches. Just like non-disabled people – oh sorry, wait, they can book a day ahead and rely on being able to travel, or even Turn Up And Go.

For Goodness’ sake.

Equality Act Disability Select Committee evidence

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Nov 112015
 

Well, that was a nervy and interesting experience. I am very grateful to the Lords Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability for giving me the opportunity to give evidence today, along with Mr Jonathan Fogerty and (later) Mr Paul Breckell. I’m also grateful for the support of Gwynneth Peddler and Lianna Etkind from that wonderful group of disability transport activists Transport for All, and to my wonderful, committed and hard-working PA Mike.

Here’s a transcript of my oral evidence – or there’s the video of the recording below..

My written evidence to the Committee is already online.

Applications for S28 Assistance

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Nov 082015
 

As part of my research into the number of disability discrimination – goods and services cases taken under the Equality Act 2010, I have sent a Freedom of Information request to the Equality and Human Rights Commission as to their consideration and approval of applications for funding under Section 28 of the Equality Act 2006. This is the mechanism by which the EHRC can provide funding, legal advice or other support to people seeking assistance to take legal action for discrimination.

I’ve analysed the responses. I must immediately state that it is likely that I have made errors in the analysis or in understanding the information, or that the EHRC may also have made errors; also that some cases were open to interpretation and some cases (e.g. “my” case against Firstbus) were sent for decisions more than once so occur several times in the stats.

My “raw analysis” of each case, such as it is, is in this Google Sheets spreadsheet. I have indicated whether each case is on one of the eight protected characteristics – Disability, Race, Religion or Belief, Age, Gender, Transgender, Sexual Orientation, Human Rights or Pregnancy and Maternity – or if the case involves more than one characteristic, and if so, whether that includes Disability. I have also indicated in each case whether it was an Employment issue or Other, and whether the EHRC approved the application for assistance.

Since January 2013, there have been 177 such applications for assistance. 45 were granted assistance; that’s 25%. 71 applications were for employment discrimination (40%). 20 applications for assistance with employment were approved; that’s 39%. Meanwhile, 25 cases in the provision of services were approved; an approval rate of 24%.

Of the 177 applications, 56 (32%) exclusively involved the protected characteristic of disability, and a further 21 (12%) were on multiple characteristics including disability. That means that disability was a common characteristic in applications for assistance, more than other characteristics, and featured in 44% of such applications.

Of cases that included disability (either as the sole characteristic or with others), 22 (29%) applications were approved. 25 applications (32%) were in employment. 52 applications were for assistance in disability goods and services cases (that’s around 17 per year). 15 were approved (29%).

The stats therefore make clear that there are very few applications for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to support cases for disability discrimination cases in the provision of goods and services. There are less than 17 applications each year, of which on average 5 cases are approved. Given the repetition noted in the stats (some cases appearing more than once), the number is lower than that.

I guess one conclusion we could reach is that there are very few instances of breaches of the equality act in disability discrimination in the provision of goods and services here in the UK. I must immediately discount this. I reckon I experience unlawful discrimination more than 17 times each year, all on my own, let alone the other several million disabled people in the UK.

So the next question is: why are there so few cases for disability discrimination? Why are there so few applications to the EHRC for assistance? And why are so few applications granted? Is the EHRC enabling disabled people to challenge the discrimination they experience?

I am grateful for the support that I am receiving from the EHRC for “my” Firstbus case. However I have to wonder if the EHRC could and should take a wider role in challenging the discrimination disabled people face.

Nov 052015
 

In oral evidence to the Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability on Tuesday just gone (3rd November), after apposite and powerful evidence from Transport for All / Gwynneth Peddler (including on the repeated difficulty of conflict for the wheelchair space on buses,) Simon Posner of the Confederation of Passenger Transport Industries said that conflict for the wheelchair space on buses was less frequent than some would claim. I contacted the Committee with concerns about his evidence and out of courtesy copied him in on the email address in his Linked In profile, but my email to him bounced. I therefore decided to make this an open letter and Tweet it at him (@SimonPosnerCPT).

Dear Committee,
I watched Tuesday’s evidence session and I am concerned at something Simon Posner said.

In response to Baroness Campbell’s query about the use of the wheelchair space on buses: “Can you just tell me how you are helping your drivers to address this issue in the absence of the law?” Simon Posner told the Select Committee:It is a problem, I have to say it’s one that’s possibly not as widespread as many people would lead us to believe“.

He has previously stated similar in a live TV interview with me on Channel 4 News – he said this is a “very isolated case“.

Yet the CPT has participated in specific research that demonstrates otherwise. The DFT’s Mobility and Inclusion Unit commissioned substantial research into this area in 2006-2008, at a cost to the taxpayer of £30,000 – see their project summary. I attach the research  report – note that this is actually the final report, even though it says “draft”.

Some key quotes:

Bus drivers interviewed through this research identified that the last two years in particular have seen the growth in the problems from buggy use and the competition for priority space on the bus.

A substantial majority of wheelchair users in all three areas identified that there were problems with their space on the bus being occupied by a buggy or pushchair. In the West Midlands, 93% of respondents said that the space is occupied a lot or sometimes, 92% in Merseyside and 87% in Aberdeen. Overall, less than one in ten wheelchair users said that this never or rarely happens.

nearly a third of respondents who were wheelchair users said that the buggy owner refused or usually refused to move.

the majority of wheelchair users said that the bus driver rarely or never intervenes

It is therefore clear that there is substantial evidence that there is a frequent and substantial problem of conflict for this space. As noted, this competition was increasing due to the increasing number of “accessible” buses in use round the country and thus the increasing number of pram, pushchair and wheelchair users attempting to use the bus. I have no doubt that competition for the space is more intense than it was when this research was conducted 9 years ago; anecdotal evidence of disabled peoples’ experiences confirms this. Comments that such conflict is infrequent are met by derision when made or read out at meetings of disabled public transport users.

The CPT were involved in and fully appraised of the results of the research. A contemporary report to DPTAC stated that the bus companies who took part in the research were approached through the CPT: “Bus companies were approached through the Confederation of Passenger Transport” and the attached report demonstrates that the findings were fed back to the CPT:

For the final stage of the study, a number of case studies were identified using the information in the literature review on measures taken to address the problems and a presentation to a selection of bus operators on the findings of the research organised by the Confederation of Passenger Transport.

Mr Posner was CEO of the CPT when this research was conducted in 2006. Before he joined the CPT he worked in the mobility unit at the Department for Transport, which commissioned the research. He has also previously served as DPTAC’s secretary, as he noted in the session.

I am therefore quite concerned that Mr Posner appears to be attempting to play down this issue. I would not want the Committee to be mislead by Mr Posner’s comment.

To be fair to Mr Posner, I have copied him in to this email.

Thank you

Doug Paulley

Oct 222015
 

There’s a Lords committee afoot, looking at the efficacy of the Equality Act 2010 as relates to disability discrimination. (Snappily entitled the Equality Act 2010 and Disability Committee.) Given this, the question is: how many court cases are there for disability discrimination in the provision of services?

This should be easy, because in response to the Work and Pensions select committee in 2009:

There is a lack of data on the number of DDA cases on goods, facilities and services in the county courts, although a number of witnesses presume the numbers to be very small. We recommend that the Government monitors the trends in the number of cases taken and their outcomes. (The DDA was the Disability Discrimination Act, the immediate precursor to the Equality Act 2010)

The Government promised:

The Government will consider introducing changes to the county court IT system when there is an opportunity to do so. Until then, courts will be asked to manually gather information on DDA cases involving goods, facilities and services.

Well, that’s okay then, I can just ask for these figures, right? Wrong.

In any event, we are not able to identify from our County Court case management system, cases that have been brought under a specific Act.

The information that you have requested may be in case files held locally at individual courts. However, I estimate that the time required to examine the files in question, extract, record and collate the information that you have asked for, would significantly exceed the limits set out above.

Riiiiight. They totally fulfilled their promise.

We should be fine, however, because under Section 2 of the Practice Direction: Proceedings under enactments relating to disability, for every case under the Act,

the claimant must give notice of the commencement of the proceedings to the Commission and file a copy of that notice.

Except this doesn’t happen. I reckon I’ve taken among the most numbers of cases in disability discrimination in the provision of services in the country (I’ve certainly taken a lot), and I think I’ve told the commission about a case twice. Even then in one instance the commission didn’t know what to do with my notification – they thought I was asking for help and referred me to the Equality advice helpline service. Hmmm.

So, we’re reduced to anecdotal evidence. I had the honour today of being at an event in which Catherine Casserley, Douglas Johnson and Nony Ardill were speaking to The Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations’ Legal Network.

Douglas said that when he did some research a few years ago, there were about 5,500 Employment Tribunals per year, and there had been about 100 cases for disability discrimination in the provision of goods and services. Ever, not per year.

Nony said that the Commission had received 111 notices in 2014 under the Practice Direction above. Of those, 44 were for disability discrimination. (Of those 44, 8 related to the Police, 8 to service providers, 14 to educational establishments, and 7 unknown.)

As for applications for the Commission’s advice and assistance to bring a disability discrimination case (under S28 of the Equality Act 2006), she was aware of three:
* Allen vs RBS,
* Campbell versus Thomas Cook, and
* a little-known case dubbed Paulley vs Firstbus.

Oh, and one case against a mosque which settled before going to court.

That’s the sum total of the disability discrimination in service provision cases across the UK assisted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

We also know that according to the Government’s own legal aid statistics for year 2013-2014, there were 22 applications for legal aid representation in equality cases (not just in disability) and that the grand total granted such funding was four. The 18 applications for funding that were turned down weren’t appealed.

So, does the low number of cases mean that disability discrimination in services is very low? Less than 1% of the cases of such discrimination in employment? That discrimination in service provision is so rare we should stop bleating about it?

I think all disabled people know the answer to that one. I’ll leave us with this accurate and prescient quote from Cath Casserley from the 2009 committee:

In any event, relying upon individuals to bring about systemic change through individual litigation places a heavy burden upon disabled people.

Equality Act and Disability written submissions published

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Oct 202015
 

The Lords Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability has published the written submissions made for its consideration. We’ve all had to avoid publishing our evidence until now; it’s somewhat of a relief!

My evidence to the Committee: as a webpage, in a PDF file.

Firstgroup made a submission. Their submission (webpage) consists of a couple of pages of positive info about their commitment to accessibility through training, vehicles and so on. The second half consists of commentary on the recent judgments in Paulley and in Black. This is interesting in that the call for evidence said:

You should be careful not to comment on individual cases currently before a court of law, or matters in respect of which court proceedings are imminent.

I’m sad that The Fleur Perry‘s submission to the Commission was eaten by the sock monster gremlins as it seems not to have made it to the Committee. She had many cogent things to say, as demonstrated by her recent blogs on Trailblazers and in the HuffFleur’s other blogs at the Huff are well worth reading.

If I count correctly there were 150 written submissions to the Committee, by organisations and people. I already know that the ones by Inclusion London, Gwynneth Pedler,  Transport for All and Unity Law are well worth reading; and I’m excited to note submissions by many ULOs (e.g. DEX and Manchester Disabled Peoples Access Group) as well as other important and influential groups and people (e.g. the Bar Council and Louise Whitfield.) I have less confidence that the big disability charities will have written much cogent or useful, but still, plenty of reading material for me for the next few weeks!

There’s plenty to watch too. Andrew Lee of People First Self-Advocacy gave oral evidence to the Select Committee today (16:06 onwards) – I am looking forward to watching his evidence. Here are links to all the oral evidence so far. I give oral evidence on 10th November.

Even in these dark, dark times of denigration and defamation of disabled people, of death and suffering and withdrawal of support and facilities, there are still signs of hope. I recently had the pleasure of meeting with some stalwart disabled people, both online and in person; I feel like I am in the company of giants. Long may it continue, and all power to everybody’s elbows!

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