Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Both Borough Merton MPs and Prime Minister unite in attack on Council's Special Educational Needs policy

On the night Merton council decided to cut SEN spending at the Council budget meeting, for once Tory MP for Wimbledon Stephen Hammond made a timely question on SEN children at Prime Minister question time. Sadly his Conservative colleagues on Merton Council did not share his concern and Tory minority administration tjis eving voted through cuts to the SEN budget.

Below is the press release from Siobhain McDonagh MP.

Both Borough MPs and Prime Minister unite in attack on Council's Special Educational Needs policy

The Conservative MP for Wimbledon, Stephen Hammond, has been joined by Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh in his attack on Merton Council's Special Educational Needs policy. The Wimbledon MP raised his concerns at Prime Minister's Questions, where Tony Blair agreed with Mr Hammond.

Ms McDonagh says that she expects the controversy to arise at tonight's meeting of Merton Council, where the Budget for 2007/8 is expected to include tough measures to bring down SEN costs.

Mr Hammond asked the Prime Minister about his constituent, Mrs Merello, and her 11-year-old son, who has recognised special educational needs. He told MPs:

"All the professionals suggest the right education for her son is an out of borough specialised school. But reflecting the cost concerns of so many local authorities they have tried to put her in a mainstream local school."

Mr Hammond asked the Prime Minister to

"ensure that Mrs Merello's son and thousands of others like him get the education they need and deserve."

The Prime Minister replied:

"I agree with him - if a child is best placed in specialist provision, that is where they should go. They should only go in mainstream provision if that is suitable."

Mr Blair added that "there is an extra £1350 per pupil in his area", but that decisions about where to spend that extra money, which the Government has passed on to Merton Council, had always been made by local authorities. He added:

"That has been the case under the previous government, and under this government."

Ms McDonagh united with her neighbouring MP in his attack on Merton Council's SEN policy, saying:

"This evening, Merton's Tory administration are due to deliver yet more nasty cuts to services for children with special needs. I'm glad Mr Hammond is prepared to stand up for his constituents rather than back his friends at the Council. We've also got the Prime Minister on our side, so I hope they listen."


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