Barnet's Labour councillors have submitted a motion to next week's Full Council meeting as part of their guaranteed debate on 'Restoring Democracy and Fairness'. This is to ensure the cuts to disabled children's after-school clubs and holiday play schemes at Mapledown School are discussed by all councillors at the meeting.
Last week news broke that Barnet's Conservative councillors are cutting £45,000 of essential short break funding for Mapledown School, which helps children with severe disabilities. This cut will reduce the number of after-school club and holiday play scheme places which give working parents of these children time to run errands after work and much needed respite in the knowledge that their children are being well cared for in a stimulating environment. Labour is very concerned that other organizations will also be affected by these cuts.
Labour's Education and Schools spokesperson, Cllr Anne Hutton said:
"We believe this cut to Mapledown School is a hard hearted decision that could easily be reversed and funded from within the council's current budget. We are calling for a debate on Mapledown at the Council meeting on April 8th to try and persuade the Conservatives to find the funding elsewhere. If they don't reverse the cut to Mapledown, we are committed to doing so if we take control of the Council in May. One way to reverse this cut to Mapledown is by reducing the councillor's allowances bill, which we've already pledged to do."
1. Coverage of the Mapledown School cuts:
2. Labour's motion to Full Council:
"Council also notes that the Conservative administration is passporting a 25% cut in funding for subsidised places at afterschool clubs and holiday play schemes run by Mapledown School. These after-school clubs provide much needed respite for working parents of severely disabled children, and there are already not enough places to meet demand.
Council believes the decision by the Conservative-led government to impose this cut to the funding for these short-break schemes is callous and unfair, but also believes the council can do something about it.
Council therefore asks that in the spirit of fairness and putting local communities first the administration should lobby government to reverse the cut in funding for these schemes, meet with the parents and children affected, and in the meantime the administration should fund the shortfall of £45k by either reducing councillors allowances, using public health funding or taking the money from reserves."
3. Leader of the Labour Group's published statement on Mapledown:
4. Sarah Sackman, Labour's PPC for Finchley and Golders Green asked Labour's Communities & Local Government spokesperson in the Lords Bill McKenzie to raise Mapledown in the House of Lords Budget HoL debate (see Hansard for Thursday last week below). Lord McKenzie is following up with a letter to George Osborne and Michael Gove to ask them to intervene and have the cut reversed.
From Hansard: 27 Mar 2014 : Column 665: Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab):
"The noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, advised us when we were discussing these matters to reflect on the fact that the Budget was about real people’s lives also. I very much agree. I had brought to my attention just yesterday—and I pass it on to the Minister—the example of Mapledown School in Barnet, a secondary school for disabled children that provides vital care for 65 pupils, so as well as educating the children it also supports their carers. Because of cuts to the council, passed on by the council, the school has had a reduction of funding of some 25%, with heavy restrictions on the services that it can provide. So in winding up, perhaps the Minister could give that school some sort of message about when it is expected that it might be able to share in the benefits of recovery."