Disabled people who receive support through the Independent Living Fund (ILF) have been caused fear, stress and anxiety by the process leading to its closure, according to new research.A seminar organised by the campaigning disabled peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell heard that ILF-users interviewed about the reassessments of their care needs they had been given by their local authorities said they had found the process bureaucratic, inflexible and unprofessional, compared with the empowering and flexible nature of ILF.Introducing the seminar, Baroness Campbell said she was “not going to apologise for the disruption outside”, caused by a high-profile protest by Disabled People Against Cuts against the ILF closure (pictured).She said: “It gives this day even more meaning, I think. We have the deadline of the closure of the ILF at the end of the month, and we have people outside who have come to demonstrate their frustration and anger over their reducing care packages.”The fund – which helps nearly 17,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently – is due to close on Tuesday (30 June).The Department for Work and Pensions has promised to transfer one year’s worth of non-ring-fenced ILF funding to councils in England, and to devolved governments in Wales and Scotland.Dr Tom Shakespeare, a leading disabled academic and now senior lecturer in medical sociology at the University of East Anglia (UEA), told the seminar at the House of Lords that the research showed local authorities appeared to have a “very minimalistic interpretation of independent living principles”.He said that the uncertainty and bureaucracy of the transition process were causing “fear, stress and anxiety” among ILF-users.His team carried out in-depth interviews with 12 ILF-users with physical impairments – across six local authorities in Greater London and East Anglia – earlier this year, and only one of them said they had found the re-assessment process by their local authority to be a positive experience.One said the council assessor had treated them as if they were stupid, while another said their local authority had been “not very professional”.When asked how they felt about the assessment, one said: “Can I use the word ‘crap’? Because crap is how it makes you feel… crap.”One ILF-user said: “It is not fear of change but my fear is people haven’t really thought it through.“They are asking us to give up something without really knowing what is in its place.”Another said there was a “vagueness” about the reassessment process.Shakespeare said of the 12 people who agreed to be interviewed: “They do recognise there are budgetary restraints but they feel their needs and rights to participate will not be respected.”Only one of the 12 said he was not worried about what would happen to his support package as a result of the ILF closure and being reassessed by his local authority.Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, told the seminar: “For people with high support needs, what we need is a national system, because a local system just doesn’t work.“Local authority budgets just cannot cope with the differences in numbers of people with high support needs in their area.”The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), with support from the user-led organisations Independent Living Alternatives and Equal Lives.The research adds to evidence compiled by Disability News Service (DNS) of delays to the transition process and cuts to people’s care packages, with many ILF-recipients yet to be informed by their local authority how much support they will receive once the fund closes next week.Last week, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) admitted to DNS that there were problems with the transition process, insisting that central government was to blame.The Scottish government announced last year that it was setting up its own ILF, for both existing and new users in Scotland, using the UK government’s funding and an additional £5.5 million of its own money.The Welsh government has opted to transfer the Westminster funding to its local authorities – with conditions attached – and will protect the budgets of existing ILF-users for the first nine months, with funding after that dependant on the UK government’s next spending round.The seminar also heard about another piece of research, carried out by UEA and the University of Essex, into older people’s disability costs and disability benefits.Ruth Hancock, from UEA’s health economics group, said they had concluded that the disability benefits available to older people – attendance allowance (AA) and disability living allowance (DLA) – were “well targeted at people who have relatively low incomes, people who have difficulty affording the costs that disability brings in later life”.She said: “Some people have suggested they are not well targeted; our conclusion is that they are well targeted.”Their research also found that only 13 per cent of disabled people aged 65 and over received AA or DLA, and just 2.5 per cent received council-funded social care, while less than half (47 per cent) of older people with the highest support needs received either DLA/AA or council-funded social care.Hancock said: “We should be much more concerned about the people who do not receive help than maybe those who do receive help and in some people’s views do not need it.“The current system fails to prevent deep poverty among many older people with disabilities, allowing for personal disability costs.”Shakespeare told the seminar that disabled people “do not want to be seen as needy and vulnerable and desperate”.He said: “The discourse that we have is we are going to separate out the undeserving from the very needy, but I think that small amounts of personal assistance or small amounts of benefit can make a huge difference for many, many of us.“I want to get away from the idea that these are desperately vulnerable people who want to be looked after and [move the discussion] back towards rights. We should be using the funds we have to help people participate and flourish.”Meanwhile, a group of disabled campaigners and organisations, including Baroness Campbell and the writer and researcher Jenny Morris, are looking for disabled people who access support from their local council to take part in a survey about changes to independent living.The deadline to take part in the survey is 30 June (Tuesday), and the group aims to carry out follow-up work over the next two years with those who take part, if they agree to leave their contact details.The group – which includes disabled people who were part of the independent living movement in the 1970s, as well as younger activists and others concerned with the future of independent living – have been meeting over the last two years to discuss how to “move the independent living agenda forwards”.
Ministers should be held accountable for the “extraordinary” rise in self-harm in prisons, including nearly 120 suicides last year, MPs and peers have been told.Members of the joint committee on human rights, who were hearing evidence from four prison reform experts, were told that 119 prisoners took their own lives in 2016, an increase from 90 the prevous year.They also heard that there were nearly 38,000 incidents of self-harm in prisons across England and Wales.Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, told the committee: “Decisions have been made by successive politicians about what happens in prisons and they have not been held accountable.“If you decide to cut staff, there are consequences and people die as a consequence.“If you decide to close prisons and not cut the number of prisoners but cram everybody into fetid cells that they are sharing with a toilet and cockroaches, their mental health will deteriorate and people will die as a consequence, and those are decisions that are made by politicians.”She blamed the rise on the “explosion” in the prison population in the 1990s and early 2000s and the decision of the last but one justice secretary – Chris Grayling – to cut staff, close prisons and “cramp people into fewer prisons”.Crook (pictured, giving evidence to the committee) said that successive justice secretaries had “led us down the path to where we are today”.The Labour peer Baroness Corston, a former chair of the committee and author of a 2007 review on vulnerable women in the criminal justice system, told the committee: “Things are getting much worse. Staffing in prisons has been cut by 30 per cent since 2010.”She said there was “an epidemic of self-harm in women’s prisons”.Juliet Lyon, chair of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAPDC), said that a focus on prisoner safety and the state’s obligations under article two of the Human Rights Act – the right to life – had led to a slight drop in the number of deaths in the years after 2003-04.But she said there had been a “spike” in deaths in custody in the last three years, leading to last year’s “extraordinary” rise in self-harm, which included the self-inflicted deaths of 12 women.She said: “It is not just cuts to staff and overcrowding, it is also not enough time out of cell, purposeful activity, time to meet with family, in some cases not enough food.”But Lyon said the one bright spot was the introduction of liaison and diversion services in many courts and police stations across England, following a recommendation made by Lord Bradley in his 2009 review of people with mental health problems and learning difficulties in the criminal justice system.Lyon said that nearly two-thirds of larger police stations and courts now had such a service, although there were questions to ask about how long the rollout was taking and the adequacy of treatment in the community.But she said it was “a beacon of hope in terms of recognition that if somebody’s offending is comparatively minor but often repetitive, if they get the treatment they need… for mental health or social care for learning disabilities, [if] they need treatment for addictions, the opportunity to divert them [from the prison system] exists.“If their offending is very serious they should get extra support as they go through the system. It’s impressive.”And she said that deaths in police custody had fallen and remained fairly low because Theresa May had said, when she was home secretary, that police cells should not be used as places of safety for those experiencing a mental health crisis.The Labour peer Lord Harris (pictured), a former IAPDC chair, told the committee that each death was an individual tragedy but that “what is most disturbing is the same issues are occurring time and time again”.He said that the state’s failure on article two of the Human Rights Act “is all the greater because those same criticisms occur time and time again”.
Disabled teachers, lecturers and students have come together to call for sweeping changes to disability equality laws, and to highlight the barriers they face across the education sector.A parliamentary meeting heard last night (Wednesday) how disabled people working in the education sector have been confronted by employers that are failing to provide them with accessible lecture and teaching spaces, denying them the right to disability leave – for disability-related absence from work – and delaying the provision of the reasonable adjustments they need and are entitled to under the Equality Act.The event, hosted by Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, Marsha de Cordova, was part of the University and College Union’s (UCU) first national day of action for disability equality in education.Joanna Vanderhoof (pictured), co-chair of UNISON’s eastern region disabled members’ committee, described how she had been forced to go through an internal grievance procedure to secure the reasonable adjustments she needed from her university employer.She said she had been “fundamentally failed” by her employer and as a result set up a disabled staff network and implemented workplace training on disability equality.She said: “My employer broke current legislation in multiple areas yet I’m the one who has suffered and they face no repercussions whatsoever.”She said she felt “utterly trapped because I can’t move to another job easily the way others can because I am disabled”.Vanderhoof said that current legislation was “simply not sufficient”.Disabled physics teacher Saeeda Bugtti said she had gone from being a highly-praised “poster girl” for her school to being asked if she wanted to take early retirement, after she became disabled.She said: “As soon as I became disabled, I was too much of a problem.”She echoed other speakers who had described how long it took for reasonable adjustments to be agreed and implemented by employers.Another disabled member of staff said it had taken his “affluent” university – which had a surplus of £200 million – one-and-a-half years to provide him with a telephone with an amplifier.He said the current legislation was “toothless” and there was a need to campaign for “a more effective Equality Act”.Elane Heffernan, chair of UCU’s disabled members’ standing committee, who chaired the meeting, said: “We have to win this change. We cannot have this silent massacre of workers in education and students who cannot even get in through the door in the first place in terms of education.”The meeting also heard how further education colleges and universities, motivated by increasing pressure to cut costs and increase revenue, were refusing to support disabled students and even attempting to force then out because it was too expensive to provide them with the support they needed.Rachel O’Brien, disabled students’ officer for the NUS, said there was an increasing “marketisation” of further and higher education, as well as cuts to disabled students’ allowance in higher education and the introduction of education, health and care plans in further education, which had also led to cuts in support.She said the introduction of “fitness to study” policies – assessing whether someone can continue as a student by looking at aspects of their life on campus such as health, behavior and attendance – implicitly or even explicitly targeted disabled students, such as those with mental health conditions, and could see them kicked off their courses.She said: “It is no coincidence that this has come in at the same time as marketisation.“Disabled students, to be frank, are expensive. Universities and colleges are being forced to be businesses.“They have incentives to get rid of us, and they are trying to do it as fast as they possibly can.”Among UCU’s demands are for legal rights to disability leave, a review of building regulations to ensure facilities are fully accessible, and strict time limits for reasonable adjustments to be provided for disabled staff.Campaigners who have supported the UCU campaign – including other unions such as the National Education Union and Unison – also want a legal right for disabled people to access mainstream education and a reversal of cuts to special educational needs and disability (SEND) spending.Michelle Daley, an inclusive education campaigner, said that disabled people should not be asking for “reasonable adjustments” but should be seeking “adjustments as a right” if that was what they needed to be able to function.Simone Aspis, policy and campaigns coordinator for The Alliance for Inclusive Education, said: “Education funding has an impact on our right to access mainstream education.“We are increasingly seeing attacks on provision of support and local authority support and disabled students’ allowance support in mainstream education.”She said there was “more and more money being ploughed into segregated provision”, which amounted to an “ideological attack” on disabled people’s right to inclusive education.Paula Peters, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said: “It is so important that disabled people have role models but disabled staff within education settings are… under attack from workplace discrimination and worsening conditions at work, with experiences of hostile environments and isolation at work all far too commonplace. This is unacceptable.”The idea for the day of action originally came from the union-funded National Disabled People’s Summit, which was held at the headquarters of the National Education Union in central London last November and was co-organised by the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance.The House of Commons event also coincided with the start of Disability History Month (see separate story).Richard Rieser, founder of Disability History Month, told the day of action event that there was a need to “learn from the history” when it came to the increasing segregation of disabled children and young people, and he added: “We have the right to be treated with equality and challenge all the historic assumptions that have been made about us for many hundreds of years.”The day saw UCU branches across the country organise activities to raise awareness about the issues faced by disabled staff and students, with support tweeted through the hashtag #IncludeUs.One of those actions took place at the University of Liverpool, and involved disabled lecturer Dr Kay Inckle, who told Disability News Service in August how she had been forced to scour the campus for accessible rooms in which she could deliver her lectures.She was even told that it might be considered “reasonable” for her to go down stairs on her bottom in some circumstances rather than be timetabled into ground floor or fully accessible rooms. A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
Protesters have warned the National Autistic Society (NAS) that it needs to listen to the voices of autistic people or face being “sidelined”, in the wake of the Mendip House abuse scandal.Representatives of three autistic rights organisations were protesting outside the charity’s London headquarters (pictured) about its failure to act on the regime of abuse that took place at the Somerset care home.They saidthe scandal was a “wake up call” for NAS.Protesterswarned the charity that the autistic rights movement was growing ever strongerand that NAS must do more to listen to their voices.Two familiesof autistic people who were abused at Mendip House in Brent Knoll, Somerset, were alsoat Friday’s protest, and provided Disability News Service (DNS) with furtherevidence of how the charity had failed their relatives.The familieswere highly critical of NAS, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the policefor their failure to stop the abusive regime earlier, and to provide justicefor their autistic relatives.Among thoseprotesting was Joseph Radford, a member of the organising group of Neurodivergent Labour, which launched in February.He said hismessage to NAS was that “autistic people are not going to take this anymore”.He added: “Weare organised. There are more of us. We are not going to be fobbed off. “We are agrowing movement. We are speaking with a clearer voice.“You can’tkeep sweeping stuff under the carpet anymore because if you do there will be pushback.“Eitherlisten to our voices or end up sidelined yourselves.”He said thefailure to punish the perpetrators of the abuse “just shows how autistic peopleare not listened to in society” and are judged only on their ability tocommunicate.He said: “Ifwe can’t communicate, we are ignored, not listened to, and abuse isoverlooked.” EmmaDalmayne, chief executive of Autistic Inclusive Meets, who organised the protest, said: “TheNAS by and large is recognised by the autistic community as being for parentsand children. “In order tomove forward from this, I believe autistic people need to become more involved.“They alsoneed to start supporting the hordes of adults out of work who need an advocate.”Dalmayne calledfor a “proper inquiry” into what happened at Mendip House.And she saidNAS should offer compensation to the former residents of Mendip House who wereabused, and that it was “appalling” that none had been offered so far.She said: “Moneycannot erase the memories or degradation. It can however go towards future careand necessities for the residents and their families.”JulianMorgan, an AIM director and a committee member of AutisticUK, said: “NAS aresaying they want to move forward from this but part of moving forward ischanging your culture.“We haveseen no sign that there is any intention to change their culture.“They don’twork with autistic advocates, they don’t work with autistic groups, they don’tsupport them.”He said thecharity had not admitted that anything happened at Mendip House until it was forcedto do so.Morgan saidtheir concerns were not about many of the people who worked for NAS, who were“hard-working and conscientious and care about what they do”, but seniorexecutives in “what has become a rather bloated organisation”.He said NAShad been concerned only with its image after it found out about the abuse atMendip House, which he said was “objectionable and abhorrent”.And hecalled for senior executives responsible for failing to stop the abuse to be“stripped out” of the charity.Rebecca*, themother of one of the former residents of Mendip House, said NAS had downplayedthe seriousness of the abuse at the homes when she and her husband were firsttold about it in the summer of 2016.She told DNS:“We were told it wasn’t serious, it wasn’t sexual, it wasn’t physical and ithad been dealt with and people had been suspended.”It wasn’tuntil they saw the safeguarding adults review in January 2018 that theyrealised the seriousness of what had happened, she said.The reportdetailed how staff had thrown cake at service-users and taunted them with food,while one resident was sent to his room because he refused to eat an onion,another was made to crawl on the floor on all fours, medication went missing,and one resident was said to be “known to flinch in the presence of particularemployees”.Newspaper reports also suggest that one resident was“slapped, forced to eat chillies and repeatedly thrown into a swimming pool”.CQC decidedearlier this month not to prosecute the charity, and instead fined it just£4,000 for financial abuse by staff, despite the regime of “taunting, mistreatmentand humiliation of residents”.Rebecca saidshe was angry that the perpetrators of the abuse had avoided prosecution and hadbeen able to “move on with their lives”.And she saidthe way the charity had dealt with the abuse had been “shocking”.She said: “Iam still so angry. They absolutely failed our kids. We have had, ‘We are reallysorry,’ but sorry comes cheap.”Her daughterwas a resident at Mendip House for 22 years, until she left after the abuse wasuncovered.Rebecca saidthere were concerns about safety standards in the home “right from thebeginning” because her daughter has been injured several times by a“challenging” fellow resident, on one occasion having to be admitted tohospital.She said:“We weren’t told about it until he had hurt her three times.”One of thethings she and her husband want to see for disabled people in care who do nothave capacity to make their own decisions is the installation of CCTV camerasin communal areas of such homes.Rebecca’shusband said he believed NAS had taken in residents with challenging behaviouralongside others like his daughter who were vulnerable in such situationsbecause it allowed them to charge more money.He said: “Aperson like [my daughter] should be entitled to be not afraid of the peoplethey are living with.”Rebeccasaid: “It was a whole system failure. Everybody has failed us: the CQC, thepolice, the commissioners who paid for it, and mostly the NAS.”Sarah*,whose brother was a resident of Mendip House for more than 40 years, said shetoo had been told by the charity in the summer of 2016 that the concerns werejust over “laddish” behaviour and “horseplay and high jinks” by young malemembers of staff.But shelater found out that her brother had “gone through this terrible ordeal”.She was toldthe abuse only took place over a year-and-a-half, but she believes he was beingabused for far longer than that.She said: “Iam looking back through those years when he said, ‘I don’t want to go back toSomerset Court [Mendip House was one of seven NAS facilities on the SomersetCourt site].’“He wouldget so depressed that he had to go back to Somerset Court. It got worse andworse, particularly in the last six years.”She said herbrother was much happier now in his new home.Sarah hasspoken to one whistle-blower who says she was sacked and threatened after sheraised concerns about the abusive regime at Mendip House.She said:“What is not right is it just being swept under the carpet. For me, thewhistle-blowers and the abusers are being treated the same – they all losttheir jobs.”She alsowants to see CCTV cameras installed in such homes in the future, as well as“transparency” from service-providers like NAS.NAS repeatedits apologies for the abuse at Mendip House, and said it was “shocked to hearthat families believe there was abuse before 2014, as this is not somethingthat has come up in previous investigations. “We hopethat they will raise it with us in our subsequent correspondence so we caninvestigate. “They should,of course, also still report this to the CQC so that it can be investigated.”Aspokesperson said NAS was “profoundly sorry for the abuse and poor practice” atMendip House.He said: “Welisten to the voices of autistic people and always make sure that our work isinformed by the experiences of autistic people and their families. “And we’realways open to ideas about how we can do this more or better.”He saidautistic people work at the charity, shape its campaigns and training materialand co-present at its training and conferences, while the autistic people itsupports are “absolutely central in planning their own care and support”. He said NASwould work with any further inquiries that were launched, and would respond toany concerns from families, including on possible compensation.The spokespersonsaid that NAS had taken “immediate action” once it became aware at a nationallevel of what had happened at Mendip House in 2016, disciplining and dismissingstaff and then introducing “a range of other changes to try and make sure thatnothing like this ever happens again”.He said: “Webelieve we had and have the right people in place to implement these changesand that any resignations would not have helped the situation. “If it everbecomes apparent that we don’t have the right staff in place – at any level –then we will of course replace them with people who can continue to improve ourservices.”He said thatthe decision of Mark Lever, NAS’s chief executive, to leave the charity “doesnot have anything to do with the abuse at Mendip House”.And he saidNAS was “very sorry to hear that two of the families feel that we misled them”about the scale of the abuse in June 2016, and added: “At the time of thismeeting we did not know all the details and were also limited in what we couldsay because there was an ongoing police investigation.”He also saidit was “not true” that NAS had taken in residents with challenging behaviouralongside those who would be vulnerable living alongside them so it couldcharge more money “as each and every placement in our services has to be basedon someone’s needs and also compatibility with the other people in the service”.On the issueof CCTV cameras in communal areas, he said: “It’s obviously a complicated issue,given that we’re talking about people’s homes. “However, werecognise that this is something that all care providers need to think aboutand we are exploring how this could work while protecting people’s right toprivacy.”He said anysuch decision “must be made in consultation with the people who use… services,their families, carers and staff”.He alsodenied that any member of staff at Mendip House was sacked for being awhistleblower, which he said was “not something that we would do”.*Not their real namesA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
MORE and more people are taking a stand against domestic violence in St Helens – by logging to a new online pledge site.Nearly 80 people have already signed the pledge – part of the ‘Let’s Tackle Domestic Violence Together’ campaign launched by St Helens Council and its Community Safety Partners.By signing the pledge, visitors are automatically entered into a draw to win a campaign t-shirt, signed by Saints star Paul Wellens, who is sponsored by the Community Safety Partnership.There have already been three winners – Helen Mason and Susie Crossman from St Helens and Sarah Robotham from Blackpool, who all won t-shirts during the campaign launch last month (June).But the campaign has been so successful that an extra, signed t-shirt is now up for grabs. To be in with a chance of winning it, simply sign the pledge by visiting www.safersthelens.org.uk/pledges by August 31 2012.Those who have already signed will be automatically entered into the new draw. The winner will be contacted by email on 1 September 2012.The new drive aims to raise awareness of domestic violence in St Helens by encouraging people to go online and sign a pledge of support to end domestic violence and abuse – against women, children and men.For more information, click here.
SAINTS have announced their squad for Sunday’s Super League XVIII Round 11 match at Hull KR.Ade Gardner misses out with the head injury he sustained in the Good Friday match with Wigan whilst Lance Hohaia is named.Nathan Brown will choose from:1. Paul Wellens, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Sia Soliola, 5. Francis Meli, 6. Lance Hohaia, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 12. Jon Wilkin, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Paul Clough, 19. Josh Jones, 21. Tom Makinson, 23. Nathan Ashe, 24. Joe Greenwood, 25. Alex Walmsley, 26. Adam Swift, 30. Mark Percival, 32. James Tilley, 36. Stuart Howarth.Craig Sandercock will choose his Hull KR team from:1. Greg Eden, 2. Craig Hall, 3. Kris Welham, 5. David Hodgson, 7. Michael Dobson, 8. Evarn Tuimavave, 9. Josh Hodgson, 11. Constantine Mika, 12. Cory Paterson, 13. Rhys Lovegrove, 15. Graeme Horne, 16. Adam Walker, 18. Liam Salter, 20. Jordan Cox, 21. Keal Carlile, 22. Richard Beaumont, 23. Mickey Paea, 25. George Griffin, 26. Alex Brown.The game kicks off at 3pm and the referee is Ben ThalerTicket details are here.Stat Pack:Hull KR are undefeated in their last four home meetings with St Helens, having won three and drawn one. Saints’ last win at Craven Park was 24-18 in the Quarter Finals of the Challenge Cup on 1 June, 2008.Super League Summary:Hull KR won 5St Helens won 71 drawHighs and Lows:Hull KR highest winning score: 28-24 (H, 2010) (Widest margin: 26-10, H, 2009)St Helens highest score: 68-12 (H, 2010) (also widest margin)
In the proposal, the town is considering getting rid of 58 campsites, removing trash cans, and porta-potties.Also in the proposed changes, those who buy a day pass would need to leave by 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. as one of those times would be the new curfew.No two-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles would be allowed at the park anymore either.Related Article: VIDEO: Man charged after allegedly punching victim outside Carolina Beach barCarolina Beach Mayor Joseph Benson said people dump food and fish cuts in the porta-potties making it a tough job for employees to clean up.However, porta-potties would be available during the day.Benson said the reason they would cut back on campsites would be to increase safety as part of the park is dangerous during high tide.“There’s a safety angle to that and can first responders get out, that’s kind of that’s the gist or at least that’s a component of this proposal,” Benson said.Benson said the meeting lasted until after midnight. He said the public was very much opposed to restrictions; however, most believed in more enforcement and increased education on the rules.No action was taken on the matter yet because officials said they want more input. CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Freeman Park in Carolina Beach may soon have some new rules and regulations. The Carolina Beach Town Council met Tuesday night to get the public’s input on the new proposal.Dozens of people attended the public hearing. Many people WWAY spoke with are upset with the possible changes which sparked a heated debate.- Advertisement –
It is the first time Wilmington has hosted the National Sweet Potato Convention.“North Carolina is the largest state producer of sweet potatoes, so it’s very important for North Carolina’s economy and the growers here as well,” Barnes said.The New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority President Kim Hufham said the event is bringing in an estimated $1.6 million to the area.Related Article: Just Cut It Barbershop offers haircuts to those with learning disabilitiesWith more than 600 people attending the event, it is the largest Sweet Potato Convention to date.“Well number one it tells you what a great destination we are, and that’s something that we’ve seen a pattern for,” Hufham said. “A lot of conventions that when they have them here for the first time that their numbers are larger than they’ve had in the past. So we’re very proud of that.”The convention is the first event to use the new hotel, Embassy Suites.“Well it’s a great kickoff because as you said Embassy Suites opened just a few weeks ago and it’s our newest meeting hotel so we’re really proud of it,” Hufham said. “And also the product that it brings to our downtown convention district. Of course people are staying there, they’re staying at the Hilton and they’re also not only utilizing the convention center which is great they’re also using the meeting space in both of the hotels as well.”It is an addition organizers were surprised and happy about.“It helped because having the hotel right here connected to the convention center and the Hilton, and you have so many other great hotels in town as well,” NC Sweet Potato Commission Director, Kelly Mciver said. “But it’s something that eliminates a lot of stress in trying to move people back and forth, so it’s just been, it’s just been great.”As for the money the convention generates, it will be spread across the area.“You know, of course a portion of it would be the room occupancy tax it helps fund tourism, it helps fund beach renourishment, it helps fund the convention center. But also you’re looking at the money going into our restaurants, into our hotels, into shopping, into our gas stations, and all the other many areas that when a tourist or a convention attendee is in town that they use here locally,” Hufham said.The National Sweet Potato Convention ends Tuesday.Mciver said with all the positive reviews they have received so far, they plan to put Wilmington on the list of places to host the convention in the future. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The 56th National Sweet Potato Convention kicked off in the Port City Sunday. It is the first big event at the Wilmington Convention Center since a hotel opened next door.“It’s a great location as far as walking to restaurants and different attractions,” attended convention, Bethany Barnes said.- Advertisement –
00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — Traffic headaches are no surprise to people who travel US 17 through Hampstead every day.“Over the last 5 to 10 years, we’ve been needing the bypass because you just can’t get in and off the road very well,” said business owner Rachel Gaines.- Advertisement – That’s where the Hampstead Bypass comes in. Pender County and the NCDOT invited the public to review the current timelines, designs and funding for the project Monday night at a drop-in session.The bypass is expected to alleviate traffic along Highway 17 in the Hampstead area.“With the bypass and the anticipated future growth of our area, we are expecting a drastic reduction in actual volume of traffic on 17 when that bypass is constructed,” said Pender County Planning and Community Development Director Kyle Breuer.Related Article: Oak Island bridge reopens ahead of schedulePender County has tried other solutions to the traffic problem in the past, but it has not been very successful.“Highway 17 is really the main access, so what we’ve really been trying to do in our office is make sure, when new development comes, that those connections are being made to provide for secondary means. But as growth comes, it also is gonna take a little bit to make those connections,” said Breuer.The most recent schedule from the NCDOT for the $230 million bypass project has right of way acquisition starting as early as spring of next year and construction beginning in winter of 2020.Gaines says she’s happy the bypass will be arriving soon, even if it costs her a few customers driving by her salon.“I can truly say, years ago, that I thought it would hurt us and I’m sure there will be some diversion of business in the area but we also have the problem now that people won’t stop in the afternoons because it’s so dangerous to get in and out of our driveway,” said Gaines.A few dozen Pender County residents showed up to the drop-in session to hear what the representatives from Pender County and the NCDOT had to say and voice their concerns.
Shelter staff says she is spunky, active and loves to be rewarded with treats. She is described as a busy bee!She is already fixed and microchipped.If you think she could be the perfect addition to your family, visit New Hanover County Animal Services. County residents can adopt for $70. Adoption hours are Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to Noon.Related Article: Pet Pals: 2-year-old Labrador Pointer mix looking for active family to joinTo see other animals available for adoption, click here. NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — There’s a sweet gal at New Hanover County Animal Services and she’s looking for her forever home!This week’s Pet Pal is a 5-month-old Dachshund mix who needs a home and a name. She has a white coat with a black smudge on her nose and chocolate chip spots on her ears.- Advertisement –