A PETITION to call on councillors to reject the government’s controversial Safety Valve scheme is now the most signed petition in BCP Council’s history.

The petition, which has now been signed 2,360 times, demands that a full council debate is held on any proposals under the scheme.

The council’s constitution indicates that any petition with more than 2,000 will be referred for debate at a full council meeting.

As reported, the council was invited to join the Safety Valve programme by the government last July, which aims to cut deficits through sweeping reforms and cost cutting measures.

Read more on the Safety Valve programme:

The scheme has been met with criticism, with BCP Alliance for Children and Schools holding a protest against the scheme.

The council is faced with an estimated £63m education deficit, due to government budgets failing to cover statutory services the authority must provide.

It has submitted a 15-year plan to the Department for Education under the programme.

The local authority will receive feedback on this plan at the end of this month, but this plan would not cover historic deficits and would only balance the ‘in-year position’.

As a result, council chief executive Graham Farrant said the authority would need to ‘persuade’ the DfE to pay off a predicted £200m deficit at the end of the plan.