A CAMPAIGN group has said this week’s full council meeting was a ‘milestone’ for it’s work against the government’s controversial Safety Valve programme.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Alliance for Children and Schools (BCPACS) held another protest ahead of the meeting, before Adam Sofianos, of the group, presented his petition to council.

Around 60 parents, carers, children and teachers gathered to protest the ‘damaging’ scheme.

During the meeting, a number of public questions, Adam’s petition and a motion against Safety Valve were heard.

As reported, there was unanimous support for the motion from councillors.

Adam said: “This was a milestone for the campaign.

“Councillors heard for the first time what Safety Valve really means: more service cuts and more children being lost. It was clear during the debate that they’re very worried about the crisis in SEND services and are looking to government to finally take action.

“Councillors were very much opposed to Safety Valve and recognised that it wouldn’t solve BCP’s deficit issues. Now we look to officers to carry this momentum into their discussions with the DfE.”

However, the group warned that plans to transfer 0.5 per cent of main schools budgets to the SEND service that was voted for at the meeting ‘could take some schools below the Minimum Per Pupil Funding Level’.

It also added that plans for officers to produce delivery plans to ‘limit the high needs expenditure’ in line with the 15-year Safety Valve plan were ‘alarming’, without details on how it would affect services.

It continued to demand full scrutiny and that both statutory and public sector equality duties are met.

BCPACS founder, Rachel Filmer, said, “This highlights the real dangers our children and schools face. Even stopping Safety Valve does not prevent the council from carrying out these cuts.

“We now need to focus on demonstrating how cuts to services exacerbate the SEND crisis. There is still a long way to go, but our campaigners have managed an incredible feat which should not be underestimated.

“Those in other local authorities also looking at Safety Valve should take note: it is possible to challenge and shine a light on these agreements.”