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“Hellhole”, Snookers Ronnie O’Sullivan description of Crawley’s K2

You would think he has lost a match but following a 4-1 victory the 42-year-old has lashed out at the ultra modern facilities.

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DerHexer, Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-sa 4.0

No you are not mis-reading the headline.

One of the most popular and modern venues across the whole of Sussex has come under fire from a snooker player.

“I’m not sure we would welcome him back if that’s what he thinks of our venue” – Cllr Mullins

Following his first-round victory over Kurt Mafline at the English Open, which is being hosted at Crawley’s K2, the snooker player has made his feelings known about the ‘conditions’ he is experienced at the venue.

In reported comments that appear on the BBC Sport news site, O’Sullivan said that all he could smell was urine.

OPINION: Mr O’Sullivan, if you don’t like our venue then I’ll help you to the door!

He went on to criticise the atmosphere and said there was a lack of security.

Councillor Chris Mullins who is cabinet member for wellbeing immediately responded to the comments saying:

“I feel stunned and very disappointed at the comments.  K2 is one of the most popular venues in the whole of Sussex and one of the busiest and most modern.

I dont know what he was expecting because that’s not the general view that we have from the public.

I’m not sure we would welcome him back if that’s what he thinks of our venue.

The hall was rented out to World Snooker and the running of the event is in any case their responsibilty and not K2 or Crawley Borough Councils.”

A statement from World Snooker says:

“We are surprised to hear these comments from Ronnie given that he has made no formal complaint and the feedback from the other players has been overwhelmingly positive. And the partners we are working with on the event agree with our view that K2 Crawley is an excellent venue with very good facilities. There was a fantastic crowd in the arena today and the ticket sales for the event have already surpassed the total sales for 2016 and 2017. We look forward to seeing Ronnie play in the next round.”

In response to the player comments K2 Crawley said:

“We are sorry and disappointed to hear that Ronnie has voiced some concerns over the venue, especially after feedback from everybody else has been so positive. We have been working closely with World Snooker to make this competition the best it can be and they are extremely happy with how the first day has gone, and in fact, we hear that ticket sales have already surpassed total numbers sold for all previous English Open venues. To be involved with this event is a privilege and we are pleased that K2 Crawley’s great accessibility and facilities will mean that more snooker fans than ever before can enjoy the tournament – we are certainly excited to see what the rest of the week holds!”

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Southern Rail joins train companies extending free train travel for survivors of domestic abuse

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Govia Thameslink Railway is supporting an extended nationwide initiative to help domestic abuse victims reach refuge accommodation by offering free train travel.

Govia Thameslink Railway’s Chief Operating Officer Steve White said:

“With the numbers of survivors of domestic abuse soaring during the pandemic, charities are expecting a surge in people trying to escape to a refuge when lockdown restrictions relax. Abusers frequently withhold money, which is why the free train travel we offer as an industry is so vitally important for the hundreds of victims making use of this scheme.”

Southern Rail and its parent company Govia Thameslink are joining other train companies in extending free train travel for survivors of domestic abuse until the end of March next year.

The move comes as figures show four survivors a day, on average, have been using the scheme and reports show that abuse has worsened during coronavirus restrictions.  

Charities are bracing themselves for a surge in people fleeing abusive relationships when restrictions are lifted. The extension will help hundreds more people to take the train, for free, to reach a safe refuge.  

Rail to refuge is a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid in which train operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children travelling to refuge accommodation. Since April, train operators have provided free tickets to 836 people, including 210 children. In other words, four survivors have travelled to safety each day on average using the Rail to refuge scheme. 

First introduced by Southeastern in September 2019 and then GWR on its routes in March 2020, all train operators joined the Rail to refuge scheme on 9 April with the original plan to keep it in place for approximately 12 weeks or for the duration of lockdown.  

However, with refuges expecting a spike in demand after the current national restrictions are eased, the scheme is now being extended for the rest of the financial year until the end of March 2021. This means hundreds more survivors will access free travel. 

The number of survivors of domestic abuse asking for help has soared during the pandemic. Women’s Aid reported a 41% increase in users visiting its instant messaging Live Chat site within the first two weeks of lockdown in March and as a result extended its opening hours to 10am – 4pm daily. Respect, which runs the Men’s Advice Line, has increased service hours from 46 to 75 hours weekly to support male victims, after seeing a huge increase in demand since March. 

Refuges expect to see the increase in demand across their services continue in the coming months as domestic abuse is worsening and abusers are using the pandemic as a tool for abuse. A recent Women’s Aid survey shows 61% of survivors living with their abuser reported that abuse worsened from March – June 2020, under tighter coronavirus restrictions.  

Many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, which restricts their practical ability to escape. Free travel can be a lifeline for people fleeing abuse who may not have access to cash. Two-thirds (63%) of people that booked a journey through Rail to refuge said they would not have travelled if the journey had not been paid for. 

Nicki Norman, acting Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said: 

Women face huge barriers in leaving an abuser. Notonly is it an extremely dangerous time, but many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, which restricts their practical ability to escape. Women tell us that they simply cannot afford to leave because the perpetrator has controlled their money and they have none of their own. Many women and children escape to a refuge with nothing at all.  

Thanks to the rail industry removing the financial barriers of travel, hundreds of women have left abusive relationships and been able to access safety. It is welcome news that this important initiative is being extended, especially as the COVID 19 pandemic continues to severely impact survivors of domestic abuse.” 

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Operating Officer at the Rail Delivery Group, said: 

“We’re proud to have provided a vital lifeline for almost a thousand people escaping a desperate situation, but there are still too many women, men and children that need help. Our staff are working hard to support the survivors of domestic abuse with free train journeys while keeping the railway running for all the people, communities and local economies that rely on it.” 

Survivors of domestic abuse who would like to access the scheme, or need other support, can get in touch with Women’s Aid through their Live Chat service, open Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am – 12:00pm: https://chat.womensaid.org.uk 

If you would like to contribute to help survivors access the lifesaving support they need and help them reach refuge, please make a donation today: www.womensaid.org.uk/rail-to-refuge (link goes live on 23 November 2020, 00.01).

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