Agenda item - Public Involvement

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Agenda item

Public Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:


(a)       Petitions: to receive any petitions presented to the full council or at the meeting itself;


(b)       Written Questions: to receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 9 November 2015;


(1)  Youth Service Trust


(c)        Deputations: to receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 9 November 2015.


40a     Petitions


40.1    There were none.


40b     Written Questions


40.2    (i) Youth Service Trust


            Mr R Lowe presented the following question:


Will the youth voice vehicle be protected as part of the youth service trust?  


The Chair provided the following response:


Yes. Detailed plans for a youth service trust or foundation are not yet formed and will need to be developed in partnership with young people. We have every intention of embedding robust mechanisms to enable young people to have a voice, express their views and influence strategy and decision making building on the current work within the Local authority and community and voluntary sector youth provision


            There was no supplementary question


40.3    (ii) Learning Support Service


            Mr O Sharpe presented the following question:


The logic supporting the Children’s Centre cuts is partly that more children will benefit from free nursery placements. More children at nurseries means that proportionately more children will be referred to the Learning Support Service. Given that there are also significant ‘savings’ being planned for the pre-school element of that service, the resultant caseload per staff will more than double.  Consequently parents of pre-school children with learning needs will be well advised to apply earlier for EHCP statutory support. Does the council therefore have any predictions of the net increase in statutory costs from this combination of pre-school ‘savings’?


The Chair provided the following response:


The Local Authority is engaged in a consultation with staff on the future re-organisation of 8 current services supporting schools, one of which is the service that supports pre-school children with special needs. Parents and other stakeholders have been invited to give their views on the proposals. The consultation ends on 31.1.2016. No decisions have been made at this point and the Local Authority is committed to listening to all feedback. The Local Authority regrets very much a range of misinformation that has been disseminated in relation to this consultation and any consequent worry and distress caused to parents. There is a clear commitment in these proposals that all children with complex SEN will continue to get the support they need from a re-organised more flexible and responsive service. The proposals suggest a re-organisation of the current 8 teams into a new integrated support service with a commitment to provide appropriate and specialist support to all children with complex special needs from pre-school to 18 years. While there are efficiency savings proposed, there is a commitment to maintain and in some areas increase the frontline ‘hands-on’ support for children with complex needs. There is no proposed reduction in the funding for one to one support for pre-school children with complex special educational needs in their settings and all settings would continue to get the appropriate information, advice and guidance in relation to managing complex special educational needs. Additionally in other proposals, the Local Authority is consulting on plans to open an inclusive specialist nursery where pre-school children with the most complex needs can attend full-time in a mainstream nursery setting with a range of additional and specialist educational and health support on-site. In this context the Local Authority does not believe there would be any need arising from these proposals for parents to make applications for Education, Health and Care plans at an earlier stage and has made no predications in this area. However parents are of course entitled to request a statutory assessment when they feel it is most appropriate to do so and the Local Authority will give their request the fullest consideration.


            Mr Sharpe asked the following supplementary question:

Does the Council have models and expectations on how the cuts would impact on those with Special Educational Needs?


The Chair provided the following response:

Special Educational Needs provision was being reviewed, and the report on possible changes to Children’s Centres would be considered later at the meeting.


40.4    (iii) Cornerstone Children’s Centre


            Ms L Erin-Jenkins presented the following question:


Proposals are due to be published this month to close Cornerstone Children’s Centre in Hove and cut the groups in the remaining children’s centres across the city, offering just one universal group per week in each centre. Brighton Children’s Centres Campaign, consisting of 640 parents and carers across the city, are concerned this will lead to a tremendous strain on the remaining groups, in terms of staff, resources and space.  It is very likely that if these proposals go ahead, that some parents and children arriving at these groups will be turned away.  Brighton Children’s Centres Campaign is also concerned that with the proposals to cut all library groups, apart from those held in Moulsecoomb and Whitehawk libraries, people will be forced to travel further with young children to access the remaining groups.  Another consequence will be parents, carers and children being turned away from these groups as well, because they will be even more oversubscribed. Does the Council not think that by cutting these groups by almost half, that the demand will far exceed the supply? And what does the Council plan do about all the children left behind?


The Chair provided the following response:

I know that children’s centre services are well used and valued by parents. In common with other councils across England we have to make savings across all service areas as result of reductions in Government funding and pressures on services.  We have to find around £68 million savings over the next 4 years. In children’s services this means finding around £5 million of savings next year. Faced with the current financial reality we simply have to change the way services are delivered in the city. Doing nothing is no longer an option.  We will not be able to deliver the same number of services as we do now. The Children’s Centre Review Board has developed proposals for how the service could change in the future.  One proposal is that Cornerstone should not be registered as a designated children’s centre.  It is a community centre and is not closing.  The proposals also include reducing the number of groups and giving priority to children under two. The Committee is being asked to agree to a consultation on the proposals today.   I want this to be a genuine consultation.   I welcome ideas from families and communities, about how we address the budget shortfall and at the same time protect our most vulnerable children in the city.



40c      Deputations


40.3(1) Literacy Support Service


40.4  The Committee considered the Deputation on the Literary Support Service, which was presented by Ms J Kenny


40.5  The Chair provided the following response:


The council remains committed to ensuring that the needs of children with literacy needs, including dyslexia, are fully identified and met. We recognise the impact of literacy difficulties on learning and self-esteem and we will continue to work with our schools to ensure that young people have the support they need to overcome the challenges that arise from all special educational needs.


The Local Authority delegates approximately £12.5 million annually across its 63 mainstream schools to enable schools to put in place additional resources to meet special educational needs, including literacy needs. Literacy difficulties have a relatively high incidence and all schools will develop experience and expertise in this area.


The Literacy Support Service is a peripatetic team which supports schools and children with specific literacy difficulties also known as dyslexia. This is a traded service, bought in by schools who wish to purchase this support via a service level agreement. The LA also makes a contribution to the cost of the service, which enable training and support to be offered more widely.


As part of the consultation on the future re-organisation of the Educational Psychology Service and Learning Support Services which concludes at the end of January 2016, the council has said it will consult with schools on keeping this traded service in place and where possible, improving the traded offer to encourage even more schools to purchase.


We are committed to listening to feedback and I welcome the information that you have provided about the support that Oscar has received and how this has benefitted him. As you will be aware from my response to the earlier question we believe that the new service should work with young people up to the age of 18 rather than 16 as is the case at the moment.


I would therefore like to assure you that dyslexia is not a forgotten disability in Brighton & Hove.



40.12        RESOLVED- That the Deputation be noted.



Supporting documents:


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