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Growth, Development and Affordable Housing on agenda at next Neighbourhood Conversations

James Giles

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Following Surbiton and South of the Borough’s neighbourhood conversations, the series of four topical forums conclude next Wednesday (25th November) in Kingston and New Malden, with the topics of growth and development and affordable housing on the agenda.

The forums have been introduced as part of the Council’s reforms to the traditional Neighbourhood Committee meeting process. Along with five Neighbourhood Committees meetings where decisions will be made about local matters, there will be three Neighbourhood Conversation forums each year to get to the heart of local issues.

Councillor Kevin Davis, Leader of Kingston Council, said:

“Last year’s All in One borough wide survey, told us that only 25 per cent of the 10,000 people surveyed felt they could influence council decision making process, which is simply not good enough.

“This new style of Neighbourhood Conversation will become the place for residents to bring their concerns and ideas, be listened to and then see action taken.

“These conversations will be specifically themed about a local topic of concern or interest and will give residents the opportunity to work together with ward members, service partners and other people from the neighbourhood to tackle solutions at a local level.

“Sometimes we will not always be able to do what residents want but at least we will have listened and considered carefully what local people want.”

Details of the meetings are as follows:

Growth and development in Maldens and Coombe

  • Wednesday 25 November, 7.30pm
  • Chair – Councillor Ken Smith
  • Burlington Junior School, Burlington Road, New Malden KT3 4LT

Affordable housing in Kingston Town

  • Thursday 26 November, 7.30pm
  • Chair – Councillor Hugh Scantlebury
  • Council Chamber, Guildhall, Kingston KT1 1EU

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Stop cuts to schools and special needs children

James Giles

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The Council last night (7th February) passed the ‘SEND Transformation Plan’, despite local residents making clear that they had not been properly consulted.

The plans, which include raiding a potential £5 million from the budgets of mainstream schools, were put out to consultation over the Christmas Holidays, which resulted in a response rate of less than 2% of those with special needs children.

SEND Family Voices, a group who until recently worked with the Council on special needs matters, have described the plans as ‘fantasy’, saying: “The risk of legal challenge is now high; the risk of Tribunal rates going through the roof is also now extremely high. The Plan is unachievable & the savings suggested are completely fabricated.”

If 100 residents sign the ‘call in’ below, the decision is sent to Scrutiny Panel for an investigation.

Please sign to ensure that our schools and special needs children get the education they deserve. We demand better for SEND children.

CALL IN: SEND TRANSFORMATION

We, the undersigned, call in all recommendations from the 'SEND Transformation Plan' from the Childrens and Adults Care and Education Committee for review at Scrutiny Panel for the following reasons:

- Councillors were misled by officers who presented the item, who claimed the consultation was sent to all SEND parents, school governors, publicised on the website and via social media, which is gross distortion of the facts.
- The consultation was not published on Kingston Council's consultation portal until 3rd January, leaving less than three weeks for the public to reply through this forum.
- The 'easy read' consultation was not published until after most schools had broken up.
- The consultation did not meet government guidelines on good consultation.
- Out of Borough schools which have Kingston SEND pupils attending were not consulted on the proposals
- SEND partners and parents were not consulted before the plan was published
- The consultation only had 96 responses. There are 4,000+ CYP with SEND in Kingston - at best, the response rate was 2% and in reality, lower, which suggests there was a major flaw with the way in which consultation was carried out, leaving the Council open to legal challenge.
- The committee wilfully held the authority's constitution in contempt by agreeing to the sending the Written Statement of Action to Ofsted a mere two working days after the committee, despite the constitution being incredibly clear that a decision cannot be fully implemented until expiration of a call-in period.
- The risk of legal challenge is now high; the risk of Tribunal rates going through the roof is also now extremely high.
- The Plan is unachievable & the savings suggested are completely fabricated.

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260 signatures

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