A wheelchair-user has lodged 40 separate complaints in just three years about bus drivers who have failed to put down the ramp for him, and have then driven off with him still on-board.Despite his repeated complaints, Chris Stapleton says the problem is getting worse every year.He has now lodged 19 complaints about the conduct of bus drivers working for London General – part of The Go-Ahead Group – and 16 about Arriva.When Stapleton (pictured) presses the blue button that is placed next to the wheelchair space, the driver should halt at the next stop and put down the ramp so that he can leave the bus.But despite a siren sounding and an indicator light showing on their dashboard, drivers frequently drive off without putting down their ramp, with Stapleton still on board.He said: “When the driver pulls away from the bus stop after ignoring my request, I normally shout, ‘Stop the bus! I pressed the blue button!’“Most drivers don’t give any sort of apology for failing to deploy the ramp earlier.“Some drivers don’t even stop the bus, and I’m forced to get off at the next stop.”He said the number of times he had been forced to complain about London buses had roughly doubled every year since he started doing so three years ago, but he does not know why.He said: “I can only [think] the bus drivers are getting lazier or less attentive. I really can’t explain it.“There is no excuse. They are not paying attention, but it is part of their job to pay attention. I’m quite angry about it.”Stapleton says that the complaints he has lodged with Transport for London (TfL) over the last three years have usually produced almost identical responses.This means an apology for the “inconvenience and frustration” or “distress” he has experienced; confirmation that the driver should have pulled in at the next stop and put down the ramp when he pressed the button; and an assurance that the driver could face disciplinary action.He said: “I’m really fed up with the bland responses I get from TfL when I send in complaints about this.“I don’t want nice polite apologies: I want change, I want bus drivers to do their job properly, I want them to stop making my journeys stressful and upsetting.”Transport for All, which campaigns for the rights of disabled and older people to travel in London, is now urging TfL to “speed up the renewal of their training programme”.Faryal Velmi, director of Transport for All, said: “This is the tip of the iceberg. Transport for All receives regular complaints from disabled and older people facing the same situation.“Many are so fed up with this that they’ve stopped reporting it.“This adds to the stress that a journey can represent for many disabled and older people facing additional issues, such as broken ramps or the wheelchair priority space occupied by buggy users.”Tony Akers, head of bus operations for TfL, said: “We’re happy to look into this and to work with the operators to see if anything can be improved.“All complaints are investigated and we are constantly reminding our operators that drivers need to be on the lookout for disabled or vulnerable passengers, but if we can reasonably do more, we shall.“Drivers are currently going through more training right now, precisely to highlight the needs of wheelchair-users.”But Stapleton said in response: “I think it’s a case of ‘fine words, no actions’.“The number of complaints I have raised about the blue buzzer issue is roughly doubling each year: the situation is getting worse, and it is affecting more and more wheelchair-users.“It does suggest that TfL is not – whatever fine words it may utter in public – taking the issue seriously enough.”
DEPSITE having half as many top age group players the Saints showed just what guts, determination, pride in the jersey and not a little talent can do for you in an eight try 44-24 demolition at Langtree on Saturday which handed the visitors their first defeat of the season, writes Graham Henthorne.The Saints were determined to reverse the recent past at this level and started the game in that fashion with two tries in an explosive opening five minutes.A great defensive set meant the opposition kicking from deep resulting in poor distance. The Saints pounded the line but a neat grubber from Danny Richardson on the last broke free and he followed up to dive on the loose ball for the try.The second again came from a forced error dropped ball on the 30 metre line. Olly Davies eventually took Lewis Fairhurst’s short ball beating the cover to the corner.Saints first mistake unfortunately cost them a try as an early tackle knock on was picked up and four tackles later the winger scored in the corner.The visitors took the lead with two tries in as many minutes around the half hour mark. Poor play gifted possession to the visitors and the Saints found themselves behind in a match they had been dominating for large periods.They showed their mettle as they regrouped under the posts, came back with renewed vigour and were rewarded with a try on the stroke of oranges. Big drives from perpetual motion man Matty Lees and Liam Cooper put the Saints under the sticks on the last and Morgan Knowles got the first of his brace collecting Richardson grubber to score. Lewis Fairhurst’s third of the half made the lead for at the break.The second half was a completely different affair as the Saints refocused on the game plan and strangled the visitors out of the game.Great kicking from Richardson and Fairhurst gave the Saints three repeat sets on the opposition try line. The line was finally breached with a bit of individual brilliance from Fairhurst. On the last he dummied outside before scooting through the line. The ball was knocked out of his grasp but he regathered and touched down for a deserved score.The visitors briefly threatened with their fourth try but this was immediately cancelled out as the Saints regained control. Regan Grace finally slipped his shackles with a 30 metre break down the middle earning himself a penalty in the process. Drives from Ross MacCauley, Joe Ryan and Aaron Smith put the Saints inches away and from the play the ball Knowles went over for his second.Grace got a try of his own as he finished off a great move bravely diving in at the corner after a fine tip on from his centre Matty Fleming.From the kick off the Saints were denied a clean break as Fleming was deemed to have obstructed the defence as Smith went through a yawning gap with clear green grass ahead of him and Grace screaming up on his outside.Normal service was resumed though as yet another repeat set and punishing drives from Ryan and MacCauley allowed Fleming to cross on the left.The final try in the last minute was the game in a microcosm as a big defensive effort forced a repeat set and four tackles later Smith dove over unopposed for the Saints eighth score of the game.This was a fabulous team performance from a young Saints side that showed real team spirit. The visitors couldn’t cope with the Saints second half possession rate of 95% and in the end were sick of the sight of MacCauley, Ryan, Lees and Chris Worrall ploughing through them. Couple that with Smith and the lively Josh Eaves at hooker, with Fairhurst and Richardson supplying possession for the speed and power of the backs out wide and the Saints have a team which must be taken seriously by anybody they face.Match Summary:Saints U19s:Tries: Matty Fleming, Regan Grace, Lewis Fairhurst, Aaron Smith, Danny Richardson, Olly Davies, Morgan Knowles 2.Goals: Lewis Fairhurst 5, Danny Richardson.Wigan U19s:Tries: David Thompson, Luke Waterworth, Liam Parsley, Jake Moore, Gabriel Fell.Goals: Jake Shorrocks 2.Half Time: 18-14Full Time: 44-24Teams:Saints:1. Ricky Bailey; 2. David Eccleston, 3. Jake Spedding, 4. Matty Fleming, 5. Regan Grace; 6. Danny Richardson, 7. Lewis Fairhurst; 8. Ross McCauley, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Joe Ryan, 11. Olly Davies, 12. Liam Cooper, 13. Morgan Knowles. Subs: 14. Josh Eaves, 15. Chris Worrall, 16. Lewis Hatton, 17. Matty Lees.Wigan:1. Gabriel Fell; 5. Tom Davies, 4. Jack Higginson, 3. Oliver Gildart, 2. David Thompson; 6. Jake Shorrocks, 7. Craig Mullen; 8. Joe Bretherton, 9. Luke Waterworth, 10. Brad Lawrence, 11. Jack Wells, 12. MacCauley Davies, 13. Kyle Shelford. Subs: 16. Max Dudley, 17. Kieran Sharrett, 18. Liam Parsley, 19. Jake Moore.
SALFORD seek their first away with at St Helens for more than 30 years when the two sides meet on Friday.Saints won all 15 matches at Knowsley Road since 1997, one game at Widnes’ Stobart Stadium in 2011 and four at Langtree Park (2012-2015).Salford last won in St Helens on January 12 1980 (18-17).The Saints have won 31 consecutive home meetings between the sides since then.2016 Meeting:Salford 44, St Helens 10 (SLR2, 11/2/16)Super League Summary:St Helens won 33Salford won 5Highs and Lows:St Helens highest score: 66-16 (H, 2001) (Widest margin: 58-4, A, 2000)Salford highest score: 44-10 (H, 2016) (also widest margin)Head to HeadSaintsSalford Red DevilsTries5462Goals4849Metres1612815390Breaks6274Tackles40304152Penalties99104Try-Scoring Runs:Salford’s Junior Sa’u (3-3-2) has scored tries in his side’s last three matches.Point-Scoring Run:Luke Walsh has the longest scoring streak in the game having registered points in St Helens’ last 27 matches.First Utility Super League Leading Scorers:Tries:1 Denny Solomona (Castleford Tigers) 142 = Jodie Broughton (Catalans Dragons), Corey Thompson (Widnes Vikings) 134 = Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Junior Sa’u (Salford Red Devils) 116 = Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves), Tom Lineham (Warrington Wolves), Kevin Penny (Warrington Wolves), Stefan Marsh (Widnes Vikings) 1010 = Pat Richards (Catalans Dragons), Jamie Shaul (Hull FC), Joe Greenwood (St Helens), Ryan Atkins (Warrington Wolves) 9Goals:1 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 522 Pat Richards (Catalans Dragons) 483 Luke Walsh (St Helens) 474 = Liam Finn (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats), Kurt Gidley (Warrington Wolves) 446 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 437 Rhys Hanbury (Widnes Vikings) 408 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 319 Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors) 2910 Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils) 26Goals Percentage:1 Jordan Lilley (Leeds Rhinos) 88.46 (23/26)2 Kurt Gidley (Warrington Wolves) 84.61 (44/52)3 Luke Walsh (St Helens) 81.03 (47/58)4 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 80.00 (52/65)5 Liam Finn (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 78.57 (44/56)6 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 78.18 (43/55)7 Josh Mantellato (Hull Kingston Rovers) 77.77 (14/18)8 Pat Richards (Catalans Dragons) 73.84 (48/65)9 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 73.80 (31/42)10 Michael Dobson (Salford Red Devils) 73.07 (19/26)Points:1 Pat Richards (Catalans Dragons) 1322 Rhys Hanbury (Widnes Vikings) 1123 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 1114 Luke Walsh (St Helens) 1045 Kurt Gidley (Warrington Wolves) 1006 Liam Finn (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 927 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 918 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 729 Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors) 7010 Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils) 60
KEIRON Cunningham says Saints are focused and can’t wait for the derby this Friday.His charges head into the clash with Wigan on the back of four wins and with the top four a real possibility at the end of the regular season.“These are always big games and because we have come off the back of some good wins it means a little more to us to get over the finish line on Friday night,” he said. “There isn’t any extra motivation needed for these games, it is an eagerly anticipated match.“All we can do is take care of ourselves. We can’t influence the variables away from our games. The boys are working hard and getting the rewards they deserve.“The players are working as hard now as they did back then. Sometimes things just click and as the confidence amongst the group gets better passes stick and the attack looks more clinical. The old adage that you make your own luck is true and we have found a little bit of that along the way.”Saints came through the win over Huddersfield in good shape and are likely to go with a similar 19-man squad this week.“Apart from the usual bumps and bruises we came through ok.” Keiron continued. “Wigan have had an extra day or two on us but we haven’t done too badly on the back of short turnarounds this year.“Luke (Walsh) came through ok and I thought the two half backs, with Jon Wilkin through the middle, worked for us on Sunday. The captain was brilliant and it was one of his best games for a while. He looked after the middle well.“The fans were sensational on Sunday too. There was a period in the second half when we defended five or six sets that they lifted us and brought us home.“They have been phenomenal. It helps when you are winning but they have helped us turn the corner.”Although the focus is on the permutations for the top four at the end of the regular season, there is effectively eight games remaining for sides to cement their place in the Semi Finals.Saints could finish fourth or fifth heading into the Super 8s, with the former bringing an extra home game.“I suppose everyone is fighting not to go to Catalan,” Keiron continued. “We would love to finish fourth at the end of the regular season but it is a case of staying as close as we can to the top four. We know what we have to do and we are working hard to get there.“I told the players that when you come through a bumpy period wins bring relief and from there comes self-belief. We are in a good place but could we be better? Of course we could and we are working hard to get there. We are working to improve for Friday and for the weeks after that.“We will have a crack at all the teams above us in the Super 8s. There will be plenty of points won and lost for all teams as there are too many good sides in this competition.“The more form we carry into the back end of the year the better it will be.”Tickets for Friday’s derby remain on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.