'Why are children being treated differently?' - questions asked about future of disabled playschemes (From This Is Local London)
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Labour MP candidate Sarah Sackman asks Barnet council leader Cllr Richard Cornelius to clarify future of disabled playschemes
Barnet Conservatives have been accused of “discriminating between different disabled children” as hundreds are left in the dark about the future of their play schemes.
Although £45,000 worth of activities to Mapledown School, in Claremont Road, Cricklewood, were given a stay of execution for a year - 14 similar services have been cancelled with no proper explanation.
Mapledown’s money was restored after the cuts were sent back to the drawing board by the Barnet Council's overview and scrutiny committee, and senior councillors claimed it would have frozen £1.9m of other schemes.
In a letter to council leader Richard Cornelius, Labour MP candidate Sarah Sackman said many had had their “hopes raised” when the Mapledown decision was announced.
She referred to Resources for Autism, a charity based in Temple Fortune, which had to choose eight out of 40 children who will not be able to join in with their holiday play schemes after cuts of £32,000.
She wrote: “Having spoken with them directly, I know you have not given them any explanation as to why their children are being treated differently to the children at Mapledown. Will you undertake to do this?
“You announced that the cut you had imposed in March would now be reversed, but with no detail of how this would affect Mapledown and other play schemes for disabled children in Barnet.”
In a series of eight questions, she asked him to clarify whether money will be restored to other contracts, whether the decision conforms with the Equality Act 2010 and what will happen at the end of the financial year.
In a statement to the Times Series, Ms Sackman added: “Families with disabled children all over Barnet have not been given any clear statement about the future of their playschemes.
"Cllr Cornelius has effectively decided to prioritise one group of disabled children over other disabled children living in the same community.
"It is just not good enough and the least he could do is explain how this decision was taken."
In his reply, Cllr Cornelius said the matter would be looked at by the committee post election, and should not be political in nature.
He promised a council officer would reply to her eight questions in more detail.
He added: “I don`t need to comment on the funding situation and where the deficit came from, however there is a shortage of money and cuts are inevitable.
“The careless calling in of a decison by Labour councillors left a whole raft of services cut off from funding.
“To be fair I do not believe this is what they wanted but the consequence was, that a quick reversal was required.
“In order to prevent further procedural mayhem the request of the Labour councillors re Mapledown was granted as an emergency measure.”
After penning his response, he told the Times Series: “Most of the charities appeared to have made satisfactory savings.
“But it seemed concerning that Mapledown didn’t seem to cope with this in the way the others have. It gave us with no alternative but to review the situation.
“It may appear we’re prioritising but I don’t believe we are. The whole thing needs to be looked at in the cold light of day.”
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