Bristol parents begin legal bid to halt special needs cuts

Protest against cuts held outside Bristol High Court on 24 July 2018
Image caption Campaigners against the cuts held a protest outside the High Court in Bristol ahead of the hearing

Parents in Bristol have begun a legal challenge over council cuts to services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send).

Labour-led Bristol City Council has cut £5m from its budget to the service as part of wider plans to make savings.

Liberal Democrat councillor Tim Kent said: "When the mayor and his cabinet made the decision to make these cuts, there was no consultation at all."

The authority said it was underfunded locally following years of austerity.

It added: "We have been asking the government to properly resource education budgets, including Send, with a sustainable funding source which provides resilience for the long term. We are urging them to act quickly and not ignore this issue."

'Complete nightmare'

A judicial review being held on Tuesday was the first of three nationally, with similar High Court battles tabled in Surrey and Hackney.

One of the parents who is involved in the legal challenge said: "One of my boys has missed a whole term, bar six days because his additional needs aren't being met because they haven't got the funding to meet them and it's a sad scary place to be."

The identity of the parents taking part in the legal bid has been protected by a court order.

Earlier on Tuesday, other parents who supported the legal action held a protest outside the High Court in Bristol as the hearing took place.

Supporter Rachael Robbins, who has a daughter with special educational needs, said she spent four years trying to get the right support in place for her child.

She added: "It's been a complete nightmare. I was trying to get them in a specialist provision, it's been really challenging.

"I need them to have a future."

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