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Kingston Residents Alliance launch crowdfunding campaign to ‘Say NO!’ to TOPO and force legal review

James Giles

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UPDATE: £3500 has been raised in less than five days, and the group have set a ‘stretch target’ of £6000, to better the campaign. The more money raised, the more resources can be used!

Following Kingston Council’s Head of Planning recommending approval earlier this week of proposals to develop on the site of the Old Post Office, the Kingston Residents Alliance have hired a barrister for legal review over St. George’s plans.

In order to fund the legal costs, the Residents Alliance have turned to the residents of Kingston, in a bid to source £3500 through crowdfunding.

Speaking to Coombe Monthly, the residents leading the crowdfunding initiative said:

In less than a week on the 23rd of June the proposals will go before the planning committee for decision.

We have already approached the Council democratically, meeting with councillors and developers over the past few months. Despite our best efforts they have seemingly dismissed our concerns, and we now have little time to make a difference. We hope that our legal counsel will put additional pressure on the Council to reconsider the planning application, advocate on behalf of residents to ensure that our views are heard, and highlight policy contraventions to hold the Council accountable.

£3,000 of our campaign will go toward legal fees. We have hired a barrister (Queen’s Counsel) with experience in advocacy and advice for planning and development proposals. An additional £500 is needed for printing and media costs to get the word out to the community.

Kingston Residents Alliance are urging residents to donate, which in the last three days alone has raised near £2,500 of their £3,500 target. They also urge residents to come to the Development Committee on Tuesday 23rd June, at which Coombe Monthly will be live blogging from the committee room.

You can donate by visiting: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/kingstonresidents

James Giles is the Editor of the Kingston Enquirer, covering local news and events in Kingston, New Malden, Surbiton, Tolworth and Chessington.

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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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