Campaigners have raised fears that ageing shopping arcades around the country could be putting the lives of disabled customers at risk, following an incident in which shoppers with mobility impairments were temporarily banned from their local centre.The Grosvenor Shopping Centre in Macclesfield secured national attention after it suddenly introduced a ban on wheelchair-users and other mobility-impaired shoppers, following an inspection by the local fire and rescue service.Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service told the centre on 27 January, following an inspection, that it had “serious concerns” that if a fire broke out “some people would simply not be able to get out”.Emergency exits from individual shops are up a steep flight of stairs at the rear of the units, while the shopping centre reportedly has low ceilings and no sprinkler system.After security staff working for Grosvenor – which is believed to have been opened in the late 1960s – started barring mobility-impaired shoppers from entering the building, the equality watchdog wrote to the centre to warn that its actions could be breaching the Equality Act.The ban was lifted on Friday (5 February) after Grosvenor agreed to introduce interim measures across the centre and its 32 shops.The shopping centre said it had simply agreed to introduce “more communication” between centre staff and retail staff and “more radios”, but the fire and rescue service has so far been unable to confirm this.Laura Smith, chief officer of Macclesfield’s Disability Information Bureau, which runs the town’s Shopmobility scheme, said they only found out about the ban after shocked members told them what was happening, even though the scheme is only “a stone’s throw away” from the shopping centre entrance.She said: “Nobody told us. The majority of people using scooters [in the shopping centre] are from our service. The lesson to be learned is you need to communicate better.”Smith said that security staff at the shopping centre had shown a lack of sensitivity, empathy and knowledge of disability.And when she asked Grosvenor how disabled staff in the centre had coped while the ban was in place, she was told that they had never had any disabled members of staff.Smith warned that other such shopping centres across the country could have similar safety concerns that have yet to be uncovered.She said: “I think this could have a knock-on effect [elsewhere] and that could be a good thing.”Lord [Chris] Holmes (pictured), disability commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Service providers have a responsibility to plan in advance for the needs of disabled people and ensure they can get in and out of their premises safely.“We have asked Grosvenor to send us written confirmation of what action they are taking to meet their legal obligations and ensure that people with disabilities can use their shopping centre easily and safely.”Simon Gibbins, head of fire protection for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have been able to reach agreement with the owners of the Macclesfield Grosvenor Shopping Centre on interim measures to ensure the safe evacuation of those with mobility issues from the premises and we believe that the centre is now fully open.“We will now continue to work with them to reach an agreement on a permanent solution which will fully satisfy our concerns on public safety.”The centre has been unable to explain why it took so many years to uncover the safety concerns, although it said that they had previously “not been considered an issue”.It also refused to explain why there were no disabled people employed in the centre; why Grosvenor failed to contact the Shopmobility scheme before introducing the temporary ban; and why its security staff were apparently so poorly-trained in disability equality issues.But in a statement, Grosvenor said: “The centre considered all options to meet the requirements of the authority (including centre closure) and ultimately considered that temporarily restricting access to those at risk, rather than closing completely, was the most proportionate approach.“This took into account the interests of customers, staff and retailers, including those retailers whose primary source of income is from the businesses they run from the centre.”
SIGNIFICANT progress was made on clarifying the rules regarding international eligibility in Rugby League by the RLIF at meetings held during the Gillette Four Nations.RLIF Chairman, Scott Carter said: “In constructive discussions we managed to make some progress in clarifying player eligibility for a nation and ensuring that players that play for one country in qualifying for a tournament can’t then play for another country in the finals.“Improvements continue to be made on the rules regarding International eligibility and we are working together to meet the dual needs of ensuring that the best athletes are available as well as supporting the development of local talent.“We also reached an agreement on an improved process for national teams to prove player eligibility and resolve disputes.”Meanwhile, the Federation has formally agreed to sign up to the World Anti-Doping Agency Code which will further strengthen Rugby League’s global commitment to eradicating drug use.The WADA Code is a document that provides the framework for harmonised anti-doping policies, rules and regulations within sport organisations and among public authorities all over the world.Carter added: “This is an important development for all nations and highlights the sport’s commitment to anti-doping across the world.“The individual nations are already signed up to the WADA code and the formal acceptance of the WADA code by the RLIF will ensure greater global consistency.”One of the most significant achievements in the fight against doping in sport to date has been the drafting, acceptance and implementation of a coordinated set of anti-doping rules, the World Anti-Doping Code.Since it entered into force on January 1, 2004, the Code has proven to be a very powerful and effective tool in the harmonisation of anti-doping efforts worldwide.This has been demonstrated by the overwhelming support of governments and sports in accepting the Code, in addition to the growing body of jurisprudence from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in supporting the Code’s tenets.The adoption of the Code led to several significant advances in the global fight against doping in sport, including the formalization of certain rules as well as the clarification of stakeholder responsibilities.The RLIF Board, consists of Chairman Scott Carter (New Zealand); Vice Chairman Richard Lewis (RFL) and delegates David Gallop and Tas Baitieri (Australia), John Numapo (PNG), Nigel Wood (RFL), John Bishop (New Zealand), Herve Guiraud (RLEF, France) and Graeme Thompson (RLEF, Scotland).
SAINTS overcame a stubborn Hull FC to maintain their perfect start to the season.James Roby bagged a brace as they put aside a poor first half to beat the visitors 34-22 on a special night at Langtree Park.More than 13,000 people paid homage to the great late Steve Prescott MBE in a series of events that brought out a full range of emotions.And whilst the game didn’t perhaps live up to ‘a classic’, it was a good rough tough Super League clash to send the fans home happy.The result sent Saints top of the table but they were anything but title contenders in the first half.Nathan Brown questioned his charges’ attitude at half time as they were lucky to head in to the sheds just four points down.Led by Richard Horne, the visitors ran the show for long periods and took their chances.On the other hand Saints looked tentative and only had a James Roby try to show for their endeavours.In the second half, those jitters were wiped out as Sia Soliola plunged over before Jon Wilkin put Lomax in.Roby exchanged tries with Gareth Ellis and then Tommy Makinson produced one of his superman diving acts to give Saints a real stranglehold.Wilkin’s ease of hand saw Mark Percival in for another but the final act came from Danny Houghton.Saints named an unchanged line up from the team that thrashed Warrington last week whilst Hull FC gave Garreth Carvell his debut.A moving tribute to Steve Prescott on a big screen and a rousing minute’s applause charged up an already emotional atmosphere and set up a great contest.And it was Hull FC who scored first – a 50 metre break from Joe Westerman polished off by Mickey Paea – within the first couple of minutes.It was a hammer blow, but Saints hit back immediately – Lomax’ forcing a drop out from Jamie Shaul’s error.Saints then kept the ball alive wonderfully for James Roby to go over.Luke Walsh duly putting the home side ahead with the conversion.It took around 20 minutes for Saints to get a further foothold in the game and they should have increased the advantage when Mark Percival got over the line after superb work from Jonny Lomax.But he was adjudged to have knocked on when most thought he’d scored.The Airlie Birds punished that opportunity when Richard Whiting took a suspiciously forward pass as Saints were called for offside.It was probably no more than the visitors deserved too as Saints were finding progress forward difficult.Jordan Turner left the field with a head injury on 33 minutes meaning an early introduction for Paul Wellens.Brown shuffled his team as a result and initially it caused disruption as Hull continued to attack.Saints held out though and were thankful to get into the half time break just four points down.Whatever rocket they were given at half time worked as within two minutes of the second half they were level.Bullocking runs from Alex Walmsley and Jon Wilkin set up the space for Sia Soliola to plunge over on the angle.And Walsh continued his conversion accuracy with another two-pointer.Saints looked deadly on every set and duly went further ahead when a Jon Wilkin produced a reserve chip of real class that Jonny Lomax pounced on.Roby added his second on 60 minutes to make it 22-10 and Walsh made no mistake.But back came Hull and boosted by two penalties, Gareth Ellis pulled them right back into it.Tommy Makinson has a habit of scoring miraculous tries and he pulled another right out of the top drawer – putting down under immense pressure – diving over the defence for the killer score.Wilkin then fed Mark Percival to put the icing on the cake.Danny Houghton scoring a late consolation.Match Summary:Saints: Tries: Roby (2) Soliola, Lomax, Makinson, PercvialGoals: Walsh (5 from 6)Hull FC: Tries: Paea, Whiting, Ellis, HoughtonGoals: Crooks (3 from 4)Penalties: Saints: 6Hull FC: 6HT: 6-10FT: 34-22REF: Richard SilverwoodATT: 13,488Teams:Saints:1. Jonny Lomax; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 22. Mark Percival, 5. Adam Swift; 24. Gary Wheeler, 7. Luke Walsh; 16. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 18. Alex Walmsley, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Willie Manu, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.Subs: 4. Josh Jones, 11. Sia Soliola, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 17. Paul Wellens.Hull FC:20. Jamie Shaul; 5. Tom Lineham, 3. Ben Crooks, 15. Joe Arundel, 34. Fetuli Talanoa; 32. Jordan Rankin, 6. Richard Horne; 8. Mickey Paea, 9. Danny Houghton, 35. Garreth Carvell, 11. Gareth Ellis, 14. Richard Whiting, 13. Joe Westerman.Subs: 16. Jordan Thompson, 22. Josh Bowden, 26. Iafeta Palea’aesina, 33. Aaron Heremaia.
KEIRON Cunningham says his side have to ‘beware the wounded animal’ as Salford come to Langtree Park this Friday.The Red Devils have been beset with injury and suspension in the last few weeks and that has seen them slide down the First Utility Super League table.But that makes them a very tough prospect according to Cunningham who wants Saints to back up the positives of the Magic Weekend.“I thought it was a great experience in Newcastle,” he said. “Even though there were more than 27,000 in there on the Sunday – and that is a great attendance – it didn’t seem like it was an empty stadium. You can get that with bigger venues but it was a great atmosphere.“It is definitely a venue we should look at again.“I love the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and for me that would be my first choice. I have a love affair with that place having won trophies and played for Wales there. As long as the venue is right, then it is a great concept – and Newcastle looks like a great spot.“It had a big game feel which is good for junior players as it prepares them for bigger occasions like semi-finals and finals. I thought we went in there and did a good job.“We started well, lost our way and then got back in the battle. I thought Jon Wilkin was outstanding and kicked well. James Roby and Travis Burns kicked well too. It was a good two points for us.“We’re in a really important block of four games. We’ve had two big away games and now have two big home ones. There is usually a big changing of the tide around this time of the season. You can see the changes in the league table after the weekend’s results.“We have done well in the last two weeks and now are at home. We would hope to be playing in front of a big crowd against a tough Salford team.“I’d never take anything for granted as a player or coach and I know anyone who comes here to play the Champions will come out fighting and raise their game.“Rangi Chase is back for them and he will make Salford tougher to play against. But we’re not bad ourselves and as long as we attack and defend well then we know we are a tough team to play.”Saints expect to name a similar squad to the one that faced Warrington with Mark Percival most likely to return.“We have a few bumps and bruises from the game,” Cunningham added. “We have a short turnaround and won’t get time to get out on the field so we will have to ride a crest of a wave and go in with a positive attitude.“We are slowly getting players back and I’m hoping so have my two strike back rowers and halves on the pitch together at some point this season!“Luke Walsh isn’t far away and Joe Greenwood is doing well. He is well ahead of schedule; a freak who is healing well. If he keeps going and progressing then he could be back for the Castleford game or the Quarter Final.“Atelea Vea is probably another six weeks away but we should get Mark Percival back this week. He was 50:50 to play Warrington but we decided to give him another week.“Jonny Lomax is where he should be at the moment and all the medical staff and specialists are happy with him. It will be a long road but he is in a good place. I’d like to think he will be a big influence for us next year.“When he comes back he will be 100 per cent and we will make sure he ticks every box before playing. We he plays well, we play well, and we want him to come back and stay back for a number of years to come.”Tickets for Friday’s game at Langtree Park against Salford Red Devils are now on sale. You can get yours from the Ticket Office, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.
SAINTS Reserves travel to Merthyr Tydfil on Sunday to take on the South Wales Ironmen.Head Coach Ian Talbot has named a strong squad for the game which is the side’s second of their ‘pre-season’ campaign.It is:Aaron Smith, Ben Morris, Ben Sims, Calvin Wellington, Chris Follin, Dave Eccleston, Greg Richards, Jack Ashworth, Jack Owens, Jake Spedding, John Hutchings, Jonah Cunningham, Jordan Gibbons, Jorge Lewtas, Matty Fleming, Regan Grace, Ricky Bailey, Sam Royle.The game kicks off at 2:30pm at The Wern Sports Park and ticket prices are £7 for adults, £5 concessions and £1 for kids.
“It was great to get off to a winning start against Wigan,” he said.“It was good to make everyone happy in the Town with a Derby win. I thought the whole opening weekend for Super League was very encouraging with well attended games across the board and some exciting action on the field.We want that back that up in Round 2 with another good performance against Wakefield.It’s always a tough place to play, they are very strong at home.They have a tough pack of forwards, some big, strong outside backs and a dangerous half-back partnership. They are a well-balanced, all-round team.I wouldn’t read too much into the London game, it’s their first home game of 2019 and I’m sure they will be tough test for us.”Tickets for the game are still available for the fixture from the Club Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium.