Disabled campaigners have welcomed the long-awaited publication of draft legislation to create Europe-wide access laws.The European Commission – the European Union’s executive body – finally published a European Accessibility Act this week, 15 years after promising to outlaw the discrimination faced by disabled people in accessing goods and services.It said the act would set “common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services”, including cashpoint machines and other banking services, personal computers, telephones and television equipment, telephony and audio-visual services, transport, e-books and e-commerce.The publication came the day before the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), which this year had a theme of “access and empowerment for people of all abilities”.The proposed European Accessibility Act would complement Britain’s own Equality Act by making existing voluntary European access standards mandatory across the European Union (EU).The act’s publication comes only two months after the United Nations said it was “concerned” that a European Accessibility Act had not yet been adopted by the EU, and gave it just 12 months to explain how it would be introduced.Yannis Vardakastanis (pictured), president of the European Disability Forum (EDF), said the act could “contribute to the empowerment of persons with disabilities to better enjoy the freedom of movement of persons, goods and services in the European single market”.He said the act had been a “top priority” for EDF and its members for many years, through its Freedom of Movement campaign.But he said it was too early to comment on the content of the act itself.He said: “In the coming weeks and months EDF and its members will work together with the EU institutions, partner organisations and other stakeholders to make this piece of legislation meaningful for 80 million people with disabilities in Europe.”The European Blind Union (EBU) also welcomed the act’s publication.Wolfgang Angermann, EBU’s president, said: “We have faced discrimination for long enough.“Along with our partners in the European Disability Forum, we will respond thoughtfully to the consultation which has just opened on this proposed legislation.“After that, we will be urging all those involved in the legislative process to ensure this new law is fully effective and thorough.”Marianne Thyssen, the EU’s commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, said: “Disability should not be a barrier to full participation in society, nor should the lack of EU common rules be a barrier to cross-border trade in accessible products and services.“With this act, we want to deepen the internal market and use its potential for the benefit of both companies and citizens with disabilities. In fact, we all may benefit from it.”The commission believes the act will make it easier for companies that want to export goods and services within the EU, and will help small business “take full advantage of the EU market”, with disabled people benefiting from “a greater supply of accessible products and services at more competitive prices”.Without the act, each EU country would continue to develop different laws as they implemented their accessibility obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Richard Howitt, the Labour MEP and co-president of the European Parliament’s all-party disability rights group, said European officials had “shamefully dragged their feet” on a promise made 15 years ago to outlaw disability discrimination in access to goods and services. Howitt, who played a key role in negotiating that promise in 2000, said it would have been long-forgotten if it had not been for “16 years of relentless campaigning by disabled people’s organisations”.Howitt said: “It is shameful how long disabled people have been forced to wait and the foot-dragging by anyone and everyone in Brussels has to stop right now.“Echoing the slogans of disability activists, this is much more a victory by rather than for disabled people themselves.“When I helped negotiate the EU law against disability discrimination in access to employment in 2000, the European Parliament was promised that action to outlaw the same discrimination in access to goods and services would soon follow.“Today, we are close to achieving what for many years has simply only been a dream and equality itself is finally being given equal treatment.”He added: “Although I am proud that Europe has made progress in the past on disability access rules in relation to the installation of lifts, for some public transport and on the internet, the bitter truth is that a large swathe of the built environment remains a ‘no go’ area for people with disabilities in Britain and in Europe.”There will now be a period of eight weeks’ consultation, followed by legislative procedures in the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
SAINTS boss Royce Simmons spoke about his side’s professionalism after the 30-16 win over Leeds Rhinos on Saturday.“You are always happy after a win… you are happy for about 24 hours and then it starts again,” he said. “I was happy with the attitude of the players, the week was very positive, it was a very enjoyable week and the boys brought a lot of energy to training and trained really well. Our ball control was very good, we were patient and our defence was super.“We didn’t let last week get us down, we have been very professional and handled the situation well.”Simmons was particularly happy with the form of Jonny Lomax and Lee Gaskell, who ran the match from the half back berths.“Jonny did really really well. He only did two training sessions with us because he was away with the English Knights. I was sitting with him on Tuesday night having a coffee saying can ‘you do this can you do that’ and explaining things to him.“I said I’ll make it really easy for you and just let you play this role and he said ‘no Royce I want to keep playing the way the halves have been playing, I want to keep that responsibility’.“He handled himself very professionally and he’s a boy with a very big future. He’s played full back, left centre and has now played in the halves… and besides all that he is a good young kid too.”Saints next match is this Friday when they host Bradford Bulls – tickets are now on sale from Saints Town Centre store, by calling 01744 455 052 or logging on to the Saints Superstore.
CARL Forster was rewarded for his performances at on loan and dual-registration when he faced London last Thursday.The young prop came off the bench to make his first appearance for Saints this season.Carl, 21, has ironically been on loan at London this year and played for both Rochdale and Whitehaven too.“We have tried to rewards all our players over the Easter period,” Saints Head Coach Nathan Brown said. “Carl didn’t play last weekend but got a chance. It now means all of our players with Super League experience have had a game“We are learning a bit more about our squad and the players too. It’s fair to say although we have a number of player unavailable, one or two could argue they could be playing.“Hopefully as the next three or four weeks develop we will see guys put their hand up and say they should be in this team.”
SAINTS have won three of the last four meetings with Wigan Warriors.Last 10 Meetings:St Helens 18, Wigan 14 (SLS8-R6, 18/9/15)St Helens 30, Wigan 14 (SLR18, 12/6/15)Wigan 12, St Helens 4 (SLR8, 3/4/15)St Helens 14, Wigan 6 (SLGF, 11/10/14) (at Old Trafford, Manchester)Wigan 12, St Helens 16 (SLR18, 27/6/14)St Helens 14, Wigan 33 (SLR9, 18/4/14)St Helens 22, Wigan 16 (SLR22, 22/7/13)Wigan 28, St Helens 16 (SLR9, 29/3/13)Wigan 18, St Helens 26 (SLR27, 7/9/12)St Helens 16, Wigan 42 (SLR15, 27/5/12) (at Etihad Stadium, Manchester)Super League Summary:St Helens won 32 (includes wins in 2000 and 2014 Grand Finals & wins in 2000, 2002, 2009 and 2011 play-offs)Wigan won 32 (includes win in 2010 Grand Final & wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004 play-offs)4 drawsHighs and Lows:St Helens highest score: 57-16 (MM, 2008) (also widest margin)Wigan highest score: 65-12 (A, 1997) (also widest margin)Career Milestones:Jon Wilkin needs two appearances to reach 400 for his career.He has played 337 games for St Helens since 2003, and was previously with Hull Kingston Rovers (39 games, 2000-2002).He has also represented Great Britain (6 Tests, 2006-2007) and England (16 games, 2004-2005, 2008-2009 & 2011-2012).Super League Milestones: (Players reaching significant figures in Super League games only, including play-offs & Super League Super 8s)Jon Wilkin – 2 appearances away from 300 (298 for St Helens, 2003-2016)Point-Scoring Run:Luke Walsh has the longest scoring streak in the game, having registered points in St Helens’ last 19 matches.His scoring streak began with five goals and a field goal in a 35-34 home win against Huddersfield on July 10 2015.First Utility Super League Leading Scorers:Tries: 1 Corey Thompson (Widnes Vikings) 102 = Denny Solomona (Castleford Tigers), Stefan Marsh (Widnes Vikings) 94 Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves) 75 = Josh Griffin (Salford Red Devils), Chris Sandow (Warrington Wolves) 6Goals:1 Rhys Hanbury (Widnes Vikings) 312 Kurt Gidley (Warrington Wolves) 253 = Pat Richards (Catalans Dragons), Luke Walsh (St Helens) 245 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 22Goals Percentage:1 Kurt Gidley (Warrington Wolves) 86.20 (25/29)2 Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils) 85.00 (17/20)3 Jordan Lilley (Leeds Rhinos) 83.33 (10/12)4 Pat Richards (Catalans Dragons) 82.75 (24/29)5 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 80.76 (21/26)Points:1 Rhys Hanbury (Widnes Vikings) 782 Pat Richards (Catalans Dragons) 643 Kurt Gidley (Warrington Wolves) 584 Luke Walsh (St Helens) 535 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 45