BOURNEMOUTH MP Sir Conor Burns has insisted decisions made by BCP Council around school budgets are “not made behind closed doors”. 

The MP for Bournemouth West said he is “very concerned” that children’s services in the conurbation are to sign up to a safety valve. 

BCP Council was invited to join the government programme in July and is an agreement to secure extra funding to tackle the financial deficit linked to support given to special needs children and young people. 

But the controversial plans have been met with fury, including one headteacher who said he has “no confidence” in BCP Council’s officers to manage the budget. 

Bournemouth Echo: Sir Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth WestSir Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West (Image: NQ)

Sir Conor told the Echo: “Frankly, this is too important to be done behind closed doors.  

“There are now very anxious parents and heads who are worried about a raid on their budgets by BCP Council.  

“I want to make sure that the views of heads are articulated and that ministers have a clear understanding of the local position before they enter into any agreement that allows the council to take slices of school funding away from local school leaders.” 

He added: “I am very concerned by what I am hearing about BCP Council’s plans to use the so-called ‘safety valve’ on SEN funding and the implications for school budgets.  

“I have contacted local school leaders to ask what input they have had and for their views.  

Bournemouth Echo:

“I have also been in touch with the schools minister ask that no decisions are agreed to until local MPs have an opportunity to listen to parents and school heads.  

“These decisions shouldn’t be rushed and in secret. I hope to meet the minister for schools this week.” 

As reported, schools’ budgets across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole could be slashed by 11 per cent. 

Read more: Headteacher has 'no confidence' in BCP Council to manage budget

Powers to sign up to the safety valve programme have been delegated to the chief executive Graham Farrant. 

At the council’s inception in April 2019, the local authority’s DSG deficit was £3.6m. 

This now stands at £36m as of March 2023, and is estimated to grow to £63m by March 2024, due to an overspend of £27m on high needs in 2023-24, and £92m by March 2025. 

A government override is in place, allowing the deficit to be ignored, but this lapses at the end of the 2025/26 financial year.