A GROUP campaigning for more scrutiny and openness around the controversial Safety Valve programme has requested a meeting with the council’s chief executive.

BCP Alliance for Children and Schools (BCPACS) has asked to meet with Graham Farrant to discuss its concerns over the scheme.

The group held a protest at the council ahead of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny committee in January.

As reported, the local authority was invited to join the Safety Valve scheme last year, and it has sent a 15-year plan to balance its in-year deficits to the Department for Education.

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However, this will not cover its historic deficit which currently stands at £63m and is predicted to grow to around £200m by the end of the 15-year plan.

The council would need to ‘persuade’ the government to pay this deficit, the chief executive previously said.

BCPACS has called on the government to take action nationally, saying if it doesn’t, BCP Council will be ‘one of dozens of English councils falling off the SEND tightrope’.

It said the government must put in place measures to protect councils from their deficits and to address SEND funding, ‘as a matter of national urgency’.

Until the group meets Mr Farrant, it reiterated its requests from its protest.

Firstly, it has asked the council carries out the necessary equality impact assessments and consultation before making a decision.

Secondly, it calls on the local authority to guarantee they will act within the legislative framework of Children & Families Act 2014.

Thirdly, it asked the council to recognise, and guarantee it will meet, its statutory responsibilities to children with SEND, as in the SEND Code of Practice.

Finally, it called for the council’s 15-year Safety Valve plan to receive sufficient scrutiny and a full council vote.

To that end, the group called for the council to allow its petition, which has been signed by more than 2,250 people, to be debated at February’s full council meeting.