THE government has agreed not to go make a deal with BCP Council to sign up to the controversial safety valve programme. 

Education secretary Gillian Keegan met with Bournemouth West MP Sir Conor Burns where it was decided no decisions surrounding children’s SEND services will be made yet. 

There had been concerns mounting that BCP Council would sign up to the programme behind closed doors without any proper scrutiny. 

Safety valve would help cut the predicted £63m deficit through sweeping reforms and strict cost-saving measures.

The council has made a request to the DfE for the full 0.5 per cent contribution from mainstream schools, as part of the DSG management plan and safety valve submission, but no decisions have yet been made.

Bournemouth Echo:

Sir Conor said: “I am very pleased to say the education secretary has agreed that no decisions will be made until such time as we have had the opportunities as local MPs to meet and discuss this with the relevant minister. 

“I am extremely keen that local headteachers feel that their concerns are being listened to. 

“Those who are working in schools understand the challenge that the local authority is facing and I don’t think it’s helpful that we get into a who is to blame thing here. 

“It's safe to say that this programme has been in deficit since the very beginning of BCP, the predecessor administrations were in deficit.” 

Sir Conor said that there has been a “degree of denial” from the authority over the years which has seen the deficit rise from £3.6m to £63m. 

He added: “There is a problem and we want to work to find a solution that addresses the problem the local authority has but protects the school's budget. 

“We want to have conversations with the government around the duration which the deficit can be eliminated.” 

A protest of parents and teachers took place outside the town hall on Tuesday evening. 

The group called for BCP Council to carry out equality impact assessments before decisions are made, and to hold a full public consultation on the plans. 

It has also called for the plan to be subject to full council scrutiny and a vote. A petition calling for this has been signed more than 2,100 times.