first_imgA disabled activist has won a three-year battle with his bank over its refusal to allow him to communicate by email and provide him with a direct telephone contact number as reasonable adjustments.The Financial Ombudsman ruled that the Co-operative Bank had failed in its duties under the Equality Act, and awarded Adam Lotun £800 compensation.He had repeatedly asked over more than three years for the bank to make reasonable adjustments to take account of his hearing impairment, autism and memory problems.As well as turning down Lotun’s request for a way to communicate with the bank by email, it failed to provide a direct telephone number for him and other disabled people to contact staff who were trained to deal with customers with access needs.On several occasions, Lotun (pictured) was stranded away from home without any money because his card had been blocked without his knowledge, as a result of the high level of PayPal transactions on his account.The ombudsman found that he had been unable to unblock the card because he could not stay on hold on the phone for long periods.On one occasion, Lotun had to wheel himself five miles from a retail park and didn’t arrive home until quarter to one in the morning after his card was rejected at a supermarket checkout and he was left without any money for a taxi.The ombudsman said that if he had had a direct contact to call, “all of these occasions would’ve been avoided” because he could have called to get his card unblocked “with ease”.The ombudsman also told Lotun that the bank had told him he could use its text relay system instead of an email, but that “if the time had been taken to understand your needs it would’ve become clear that this isn’t suitable”.The ombudsman concluded: “Overall, I don’t think the adjustments you’ve asked for are unreasonable – namely to be able to communicate with Co-op via e-mail [and] to have a direct telephone contact for emergency situations only.“The former has been rejected by Co-op on several occasions on the basis that they didn’t have a secure e-mail facility.“I don’t think that this was a good enough reason and an attempt should’ve been made to explore this more fully. And I can’t see that Co-op ever proposed suitable alternatives.”The bank has now agreed to set up a secure email address for him, and has provided a telephone number for a team set up to deal with “vulnerable” customers.The ombudsman concluded that Lotun had been caused “unnecessary distress and inconvenience by Co-op’s failure to put your reasonable adjustments into place sooner”, although this appeared to be the result of the bank’s “limited resources” rather than discrimination.The ombudsman said that “a period of three or four years of having to constantly ask for adjustments that weren’t actually that demanding is far too long a period of time.“I also think that if the reasonable adjustments had been put into place in good time you would’ve been spared a lot of distress and inconvenience on several occasions.”A spokesman for the bank said it accepted the ombudsman’s decision.He said: “Since 2013, we have made significant progress in rebuilding the bank, and part of this process has been to completely review how we deal with vulnerable customers, leading to the creation of a vulnerable customer team in late 2016.”He said the bank had introduced company-wide “customer vulnerability awareness training” for its staff, “front-line training in the identification and engagement of vulnerable customers”, and enhanced training for the new “specialist customer vulnerability support teams”, as well as an advice line for its staff.As a result of a new partnership with Citizens Advice Manchester, a full-time advisor from the charity has been appointed to the bank to support customers with “multiple issues” who need support with such areas as housing, benefits and access to social support.The spokesman said: “We also provide appropriate customers with a single point of contact within our central vulnerability teams via a freephone number, via mail or in some instances a secure/encrypted e-mail platform.“We have made significant progress in improving our support for vulnerable customers since this matter was first raised in 2014 and we apologise to Mr Lotun for any inconvenience caused from his ongoing dealings with the bank.”Lotun, who has been a Co-op customer for more than 20 years, said it had been a “long and hard-fought battle” to secure the reasonable adjustments he needed.He said: “The Co-op have now been forced to recognise that they have consistently treated disabled customers negatively and that they have also been forced to recognise their actions and to also create and implement a specialist team to provide the best services possible for disabled customers.“In my view, a bank that promotes itself as a ‘ethical bank’ should not have to be challenged for so long in this way for ‘ethical standards’ to be put into place.”last_img read more

first_imgAfter losing much of their business to online sales and facing steadily rising rents, two businesses on San Francisco’s Valencia Street will shutter and two will relocate by mid-February. Another business has already shut down, and two others in the two-block stretch worry about their futures. Lost Weekend Video, after 18 years on Valencia Street, will relocate to inside the Alamo Drafthouse lobby. Freewheel, a bike shop, will also relocate within the Mission following the end of its lease, though a new location has not yet been announced. Meanwhile, clothing store DEMA, and Mission Creek Cafe, along with gift and skincare purveyor Currents will both close permanently. Another two stores, Decamere Market and Retrofit vintage clothing, worry about their business slipping away.Currents, a shop selling a variety of skincare products and handmade accessories, got hit by both a rent hike and a market that has moved online, the owner said.  It will shut on February 15, citing an untenable rent increase and fewer buyers.The owner, who asked that his name not be used, said he sees potential customers come in, take photos of items, and then leave without buying anything.  “Seems like their smart phones make their decisions for them,” he said. “I’m tired of making for those people.” Regulars, he said, can call him if they want more of the soaps and lotions that he will no longer offer at a retail location. Mission Creek Cafe closed last week. Its owners could not be reached for comment. Regulars said that business had been slow, but it is unclear if a rent increase factored into its closure. The cafe, known and loved for its unpretentious work space, also had a reputation for poor food hygiene. A health inspection in summer of last year found multiple violations, including bad hand washing practices, vermin, clutter and moldy food.As Mission Local reported earlier, Clothier DEMA will leave the street in February because business has slowed. With its exit, the space will become home to 1234Go! Records, an Oakland record seller that moved in with Lost Weekend Video next door in March of 2015. At the time, it made the move to help Lost Weekend keep its Valencia space and expand to the East Bay.While the video store’s 18-year-old Valencia location will shutter, Lost Weekend will move into the newly opened Alamo Drafthouse cinema’s lobby on Mission Street.“Retail shops like ours, Le Video, Amoeba, Green Apple and many others in the entertainment wing of retail used to be the anchors of neighborhoods. That had a lot to do with why certain neighborhoods were more popular. That way of thinking has changed, ” said one of three Lost Weekend owners, Dave Hawkins.Video stores have struggled for years as Netflix and then streaming became more popular. The move will allow Lost Weekend to retain some of its favorite features – a 27,000 video collection, in-person film rentals, and possibly even the comedy shows that became popular in its downstairs Cinecave.Hawkins considers the changes on Valencia Street symptomatic of a larger industrial and cultural shift – away from brick-and-mortar stores with engaged shop owners and employees and toward tech-based, centralized delivery and streaming models.“I want to know from the Tim Cooks and the Mark Zuckerbergs where they think this all going. How will we employ 175 million people once everything is fully automated? Socialism? A living wage concept? Or do they even care?”Freewheel bike shop, also nearing the end of its lease and faced with a rent increase it can’t meet, will move from its 18-year location on Valencia Street. Owner Carlos Corujo said it will relocate within the Mission, but did not specify an exact location. Freewheel also has a location on Hayes Street near Ashbury Street.“We’ve been in business for so long, so it’s not like business is bad. There’s a tipping point for rent hikes, and we’ve reached it,” Corujo said.Corujo, too, competes with online sales. He said that offering services like repair, which cannot be ordered online, has helped keep business healthy.“The perception of the value of a square foot on Valencia Street is higher than it is,” Corujo said. “People wander in here, they’re not necessarily spending all of their money on it. We’re still competing against mail order every day.”That perceived value of a square foot is hitting the Decamere Market, particularly hard. Solomon Mehari, who runs the market with his brother, said when his lease expired at the beginning of January, the rent went from $4,102 a month to $9,306. But his business can’t keep up.“These kids, they make a lot of money, but they don’t come here,” he said. “They order something to be delivered for them.” Mehari has not set up an online order system as others have and unlike delis like Rhea’s and Ike’s, he has no ready-made deli items he could set up online orders or delivery for.The rent increase, combined with sluggish business, is troubling for him.“We’re just working for the landlord now. Whatever we make, we give to them,” Mehari said. “We can’t leave … We have mortgages, I have two kids in college.”In the retail space next door to Freewheel, part of the same building, Retrofit’s owner Steven Lemay is still creating new window displays and helping customers. Having owned the business for 12 of its 20 years, 17 of which were spent on Valencia, he nonetheless suspects Retrofit’s days are numbered.“I would be naïve to think it wasn’t going to happen to me,” he said. Lemay, too, has lost some clientele.“The demographic has changed. Unfortunately the people who live here are not very creative,” he said. “There’s this moment where it’s either fight it, or realize that it’s not my neighborhood anymore.” Tags: Business • valencia street Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img 0%last_img read more

first_imgARTHUR Thomas’ funeral will take place on Thursday April 11 at 2.15pm at Pennington Church in Leigh.The service is open to all who knew Arthur.It will be followed by a private service for family only at a local crematorium, and a celebration of Arthur’s life at the Banqueting Suite Leigh Sports Village which is open again to anyone who knew him.Saints will host a minute’s silence for Arthur before their fixture against Catalan on Friday.last_img

first_imgNATHAN Brown is comfortable with the progress Saints have made in pre-season and is looking forward to a good campaign.And he believes the experience of 2013 will make his side – especially the younger players – much stronger.“Pre-season has been good,” the Head Coach said. “We have made some subtle changes and there has been an increase of younger players at training – those that came in last year and those who are now part of the first team squad. That has been exciting and we have a squad that has a good chance of being successful.“We are comfortable with the recruits we have made. Like all sides, whether you run first, fifth or eighth, you want to improve your squad. If you stand still someone will go past you. We have made some signings that can help complement and improve our squad. They are also good people too and that is really important.”Saints handed debuts to 13 players last season and whilst some of those were enforced due to a significant injury list, Brown says a number warranted a spot because of their hard work in training.“We will certainly benefit from a year like last,” he continued. “This year we’d like to think that the likes of Adam Swift, Mark Percival, Greg Richards and Alex Walmsley for example should continue to improve.“All the young kids who debuted have gone really well in pre-season. They have all shown good signs of improvement. Physically, they are stronger and bigger and their fitness is better too. They have added parts to their game and now the next challenge is seeing that happen on the field.“The kids who played last year have a lot of talent and contributed well at the time… and sometimes struggled… but that is all part of being young. We would hope they improve a fair bit this year and the proof will be over the coming season but we are excited. They have given themselves a good chance by having a good pre-season and have done everything asked of them.”Optimism is high at Saints ahead of the Super League opener at Warrington on February 13 and Langtree Park’s ‘bow’ on February 21 against Hull FC.Not only has the club signed five players but there’s enough momentum from the back end of last season to carry forward.“The back third of last year was quite good I thought,” Brown added. “We won 10 from 12 only losing to Warrington when they were a little better in the first 15 minutes and then when we lost 11-10 to Leeds. That was a great game of football and we were unlucky not to get something from it.“People tend to think though if you bring in new signings you can automatically start playing well again. But these new players need to bed into the culture of the club. Last year that culture helped to hold the squad together and it’s important the young players coming up realise that.“The new players who have come in also need to understand the history of the club and the commitment the players of the past have made for its success. If we get that right then we can perform well.”He continued: “There’s always expectation around a club like this. I worked at the Dragons in the NRL and there is no more expectation than any club in the NRL than the Dragons. The fans are passionate and even when we weren’t going so well a lot of they supported us by coming to the games. Our away support was nothing short of brilliant.“With the history here the fans don’t expect success, they demand it. That helps the club be what it is. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else to be honest.”Saints will kick off their Super League campaign with a trip to Warrington on Thursday February 13 before hosting Hull FC eight days later in a blockbusting Langtree Park opener.Before then Nathan Brown’s men take on Batley (January 24) and Wigan (January 31) in pre-season friendlies.To buy tickets for these matches click here or pop into the Ticket Office at Langtree Park.last_img read more

first_imgDAY 8 – The lads were out at 8.15am for a session working on some individual specific drills.Tommy Martyn worked with the kickers, Derek Traynor the forwards, Ian Talbot the dummy halves and Neil Kilshaw the outside backs.Once the session finished it was a quick shower and change before jumping onto the bus and heading into the city for an afternoon of free time.It was a first opportunity to spend some of the money that has been burning a hole in their pockets since we arrived.Pandora charms, t-shirts, trainers, NRL training gear and boots all contributed to making lighter wallets.The lad who was most happy with his purchase was Brad Pinder. He had saved up and bought the same bright green Asics boots as his idol, Tommy Martyn, and didn’t worry about paying twice the price that Tommy had.It was good to see that the lads clubbed together to help injured Josh Eaves celebrate his 18th birthday in style – he looked good wandering around Sydney in his ladies shorts, tourist T-shirt and hat complete with corks.The second training session of the day was the final ‘captains run’.Derek Traynor named the team and welcomed Mike Weldon back into the match day squad after his illness.The session was held in Parramatta just as heavy thunderstorms were coming to an end.Preparations for tomorrow’s game in Wyong against the Central Coast have gone well. The lads, still buzzing after Saturday’s win cannot wait to get back out onto the field once again.By Ian Talbotlast_img read more

first_imgPerfect to wear casually or for matchday, it has a predominantly navy body with red panel alongside an eye-catching sky trim on the upper chest and shoulders and a full red zip.There are red and sky blue stripes along the sleeves too and sky trim on the collar, cuffs and hem.It has the retro look of a traditional tracksuit top.The cuffs and hem are elasticated.Adult sizes Extra Small through to 5XL. Also available in Kids sizes 5/6 through to Age 13/14 yrs.You can order yours here.,You can order yours here.last_img read more

first_img The news was announced that a Fayetteville dive team made the discovery Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. in Shelter Creek along Shaw Highway in Pender County.“Sadly it was too late to save Mariah the moment the 911 call came in,” FBI Senior Agent Stanley Meador said.As time passes many community members were hoping and praying for a better outcome.Related Article: One injured in small plane crash near Holly Ridge“I seen the devastating news and I had many different emotions anger, hurt, panic,” community member Angela Wiles said. “I wasn’t able to breath just complete devastation.”Wiles did not know Mariah or her family, but says she felt she had to do something to show Mariah she was loved. She made a memorial for Mariah down the road from her home.“Ultimately regardless of what we think or the speculation, it’s about Mariah. It’s not about anything else or anyone else and bringing her justice and peace,” Wiles said.Officials are still asking for the communities help to uncover what happened that night Mariah went missing.If anyone has any surveillance footage from a home, business or hunting game camera within the search areas call the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.Positive confirmation of the body will be made by the medical examiner’s office.We will have more details as they become available. JACKSONVILLE, NC (WWAY) — Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller has announced that law enforcement officials have found what appears to be the body of missing three-year-old Mariah Woods.“I’m very saddened to report to you that we have recovered what we believe are the remains of little Mariah Woods. We were all hoping for a better outcome. We have made appropriate notifications to the family,” Sheriff Miller said.- Advertisement – last_img read more

first_imgNEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — One New Hanover County student has more to celebrate this summer than just completing 5th grade!Jamie McKinney earned a perfect score in the WordMasters Challenge, a nationwide vocabulary and analogy competition.- Advertisement – Ogden Elementary students studying for WordMasters. (Photo: Jenny Leeds) Ogden Elementary students studying for WordMasters. (Photo: Jenny Leeds) McKinney’s 5th grade teacher, Jenny Leed, said some strategies for working with the words include defining and classifying them. Leed said as a teacher, WordMasters is a fun way to incorporate advanced level vocabulary with the added challenge of analogies.Related Article: New Hanover Co. Schools hosting work session, public forums on redistrictingTo learn more about WordMasters, click here. The WordMasters Challenge is an exercise in critical thinking that encourages students to become familiar with a set of interesting new words that are considerably harder than grade level, and challenges them to use those words to complete analogies expressing various kinds of logical relationships.  Working to solve the analogies helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically.There are 3 WordMasters Challenge Meets per year. Each consists of analogies based on the word lists. The meets are cumulative. Students have some class time to prepare for the meets, but also study outside of school. Ogden Elementary students studying for WordMasters. (Photo: Jenny Leeds) 1 of 3last_img read more

first_img00:00 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 SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) – Since the summer of 1956 it has been the way you got onto Topsail Island from the mainland. Now it’s the end of another summer season and the possible end of an era in Surf City.If things go the way the contractors want, the new Surf City bridge will open by the beginning of next year. That’s what we heard when the NCDOT hosted a public session on the bridgework back in the spring.- Advertisement – So we decided this Labor Day to talk with the longtime locals who have relied on the bridge as well as reluctantly sit in traffic because of it.“A bridge like that is iconic, but it’s obsolete with today’s crowds and people. It just causes so many problems,” said One Stop Bait and Tackle shop owner Jeff Warren whose family owned business has sat in front of the bridge for almost as long as the bridge has been there.He shares the same criticisms as well business that sit along the main drag of Roland Avenue. They often hear from customers about how charming the bridge is and that it maintains a small town feel for the area, however, traversing off the road to a local storefront is a nightmare.Related Article: Lane closures start next week for section of MLK Parkway in Wilmington“I’m gonna miss it but I realize that the place has grown tremendously and we do need some relief from the traffic,” Warren added.On the island side, you hear most of the immediate stores will be glad to see the traffic issue fixed.“I am excited. I think it will bring more people and less traffic to sit in,” said Katie Lowder who co-owns and operates the Surf City Jet Ski rentals with her husband just behind the Crab Pot.Lowder’s perspective is a little different from Warren’s. His shop can still be enticing to summer visitors next season because it still sits along highway 210 connecting to the Intracoastal Waterway. Lowder and staff at the Bumblebee Market and Crab Pot are uncertain what their businesses futures will look like.“I am hesitant because since right now everyone has to come by us to get on to the island so that’s great for business, so I am hesitant to see what that brings,” said Lowder. “I don’t know I guess we will have to up our advertising game a little bit.”Beyond that, there’s the nostalgia of the bridge neighbors say they will miss. Lowder says the change to the flyover definitely turns the chapter for Surf City as it grows and becomes more of a summer destination.“It’s definitely going to be sad to see it go,” said Lowder.The DOT announced in April there would be lane changes around early July, yet those have not been in full effect from what we saw in Surf City. The roundabout is yet to be built yet, however there are signs posted for detours to take place on September 17 along Roland Avenue.last_img read more

first_imgLeslie McCrae Dowless Jr. (Photo: WSOC) RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Long before accusations of absentee ballot fraud in a small North Carolina county cast doubt on the results of a heated 2018 congressional race, a state elections investigator spent weeks probing whether the man at the center of the current scandal was among a group buying votes.That 2010 investigation was one of at least a half dozen instances over the last nine years that prosecutors and elections officials received complaints of serious elections irregularities in Bladen County, a rural locale of 35,000 people that has long had a statewide reputation for political chicanery by both Republicans and Democrats. The state’s ongoing criminal investigation into 2018 voting irregularities has focused on Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., a local political operative and convicted felon.- Advertisement – Marshall Tutor, who retired in March after 15 years as an investigator for the N.C. Board of Elections, told The Associated Press his office first fielded accusations nearly a decade ago that Dowless, now 62, was among a group giving voters cash to fill out ballots the way he directed.Emails obtained by AP through a public records request detail the elections board’s 2010 investigation in Bladen, which began after a Democratic candidate for county commissioner reported seeing political operatives handing voters what he suspected to be cash outside an early voting site.Tutor traveled to Bladen multiple times, but said in an interview Monday he was unable to build a strong enough case against Dowless to support criminal charges.Related Article: Slight car inspection fee increase narrowly passes committee“Dowless was throwing a lot of money around,” said Tutor, 70, recounting the 2010 investigation. “There was no paper trail. Witnesses refused to give sworn statements or testify in court. No one was going to admit they were paid $5 to vote. But where there’s that much smoke, there was fire.”Dowless did not respond Tuesday to a message seeking comment. His attorney, Cynthia Adams Singletary, issued a statement last month asserting that Dowless hasn’t broken any campaign laws.The AP first reported last month that North Carolina’s top elections official issued an urgent plea nearly two years ago for the Trump administration to file criminal charges against Dowless and others, warning in a January 2017 letter that those involved in illegally harvesting absentee ballots in Bladen would likely do it again if they weren’t prosecuted.Both federal and state prosecutors failed to file criminal charges before the now disputed 2018 vote, the last unresolved Congressional election in the nation.Investigators are now probing whether Dowless ran a sophisticated operation over multiple election cycles to collect absentee ballots from voters, potentially altering the selections or not turning them in to be counted. Under state law, it is illegal for anyone other than a voter or their immediate family to handle an absentee ballot before it is sealed and mailed.Also at issue is whether Dowless was working as part of a larger local political machine, including whether he could have had improper help from current or former Bladen County officials.The state Board of Elections refused to certify the results of the Nov. 6 vote where Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes, according to unofficial results. State investigators are also probing Dowless’ work for Harris for the May 2018 Republican primary, in which he narrowly defeated incumbent U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger.Harris has admitted making the decision to hire Dowless after hearing about him from Bladen GOP officials, paying for the absentee ballot operation through a political consulting firm. Harris, a Baptist minister, has denied knowledge of any wrongdoing. He filed a lawsuit last week asking a state judge to order his certification as the winner of the November election.North Carolina’s appointed elections board was dissolved earlier this month by a panel of three state judges who in October struck down the GOP-back law that formed it as unconstitutional. A revamped board is due to be seated Jan. 31.Democratic leaders in the U.S. House have said they won’t allow Harris to take office because of the ongoing investigation. The U.S. Constitution makes the House the judge and final arbiter of its members’ election contests.Tutor, the former elections investigator, said he suspected in 2010 that political candidates or their supporters were funneling undisclosed cash to Dowless to fund efforts to influence votes.“Dowless deals in cash,” Tutor said. “He doesn’t care about party affiliation. You show him the money, and he’ll get the votes.”Years later, evidence surfaced that at least some political cash had been steered to Dowless that was never disclosed in campaign finance reports, as required by state law.Jeffrey S. Smith, a Bladen County sweepstakes parlor operator, says he gave Dowless off-the-books cash in 2014. Smith testified as part of a lawsuit that he gave Dowless three cash payments totaling $5,800 on behalf of current Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker, a Republican.“Everybody will tell you that McCrae takes cash for work,” Smith told AP in an interview last month, recounting the payments.North Carolina’s legislature has repeatedly voted to outlaw so-called sweepstakes games, which typically resemble video slot machines. But many of the operations have managed to stay open with court challenges, software tweaks and frequent political donations.Smith filed a lawsuit against McVicker after deputies raided his gaming parlor in 2015. As part of the case, Dowless gave a sworn statement admitting he received the cash and used it to hire about 20 people that encouraged voters to cast ballots supporting McVicker.Larry Guyton, McVicker’s chief deputy, said the sheriff declined to comment.Though Tutor’s 2010 investigation didn’t yield a criminal case against Dowless, the investigator said he did gather strong evidence of wrongdoing by others.The elections board doesn’t have authority under state law to make arrests or file criminal charges. Emails reviewed by the AP show Tutor met with agents from the State Bureau of Investigation, North Carolina’s version of the FBI, about pursuing a potential criminal case against Sue Anne Long, a state probation and parole officer.Tutor said political alliances in Bladen often have more to do with skin color than party affiliation, and that his investigation indicated Long was part of a group gathering absentee ballots from low-income black residents and then throwing them away, a potential felony under state law. At the time, a black candidate for sheriff was squaring off against a white man in a Democratic party primary.Tutor says he provided witness statements attesting to Long’s alleged misconduct, but the case was later dropped. Tutor says the witnesses, whom he described as elderly black people, weren’t deemed credible enough to bring criminal charges against Long.“I was told the witnesses wouldn’t be good in court,” Tutor told the AP.Long, 49, is still employed at the state adult corrections office in Elizabethtown, the Bladen County seat. She did not respond Monday to a phone message and email seeking comment.SBI Deputy Director Gerald Thomas confirmed Monday that records showed his agency had investigated Long and made a referral to state prosecutors, who elected not to pursue charges.last_img read more