Watkins Solicitors challenge cutbacks to SEN in Cornwall
The Administrative Court in Cardiff has permitted a final hearing of Judicial Review proceedings to challenge the cutback of education for young people with special educational needs in Cornwall.
The Judicial Review claim was issued in early June by Keith Lomax of Watkins Solicitors, acting on behalf of the children. He argued that Cornwall Council had failed to fund Truro and Penwith College adequately. Children moving on to post-16 education will no longer have access to 5-days a week provision at the college as a consequence. When the council refused to fund the 5-day provision, the college had no option but to cut the course to 3 days per week.
The case raises grounds that the council is acting unlawfully in failing to provide adequate support in accordance with the children’s assessed needs (both in EHC Plans and otherwise). Furthermore, the council’s stance is in breach of statute, discriminatory, and without due regard to equality duties. It is also in violation of the council’s statutory obligations to make arrangements for education that are best for children’s welfare. Finally, this action has been taken without consultation and is wholly irrational.
Legal Aid has been granted to the children, underpinning the viewed importance of this case. Indeed, the Secretary of State is listed as an interested party.
On 16 July the judge, sitting in the High Court at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre, granted the claimants permission to proceed on all grounds. A final hearing is listed to take place in Truro during the week commencing 19 August. There are 37 families affected by this decision, the ramifications of which could impact upon families in Cornwall for years to come.