Rosie and Labour Councillor for Gorrell, Bernadette Fisher, have teamed up to lobby Network Rail for better access facilities at Whitstable Train Station. Joining Rosie in Westminster, Bernadette relayed concerns about the state of the Stream Walk path that some residents with mobility issues have to use to cross platforms if they are unable to use the bridge. Rosie says, ‘we don’t want to replace the current beautiful bridge at Whitstable station, but we need to look at getting a second bridge with a lift, or installing appropriate ramps. I am hearing from constituents with mobility issues who are left frustrated and often frightened at having to use the stream walk path late at night to cross platforms, or to reclaim their vehicles from the car park after a day’s commute’. The meeting was a constructive one and both Rosie and Councillor Fisher will look to take plans forward back in town.
Rosie Duffield, Labour MP for Canterbury, expresses fury with Conservative-led Kent County Council who cannot sustain the school funding system in Kent for children with the most need. KCC have announced that from this autumn they cannot offer legally-due funding for the autumn term for some newly-assessed children with extra educational needs.
Rosie Duffield is demanding answers from Councillors and Directors at Kent County Council about the funding shortfall in their Education Department. Some students with High Needs Funding have found that promised places on courses have been withdrawn just days before the new academic year; the Local Authority is unable to confirm that they will be able to provide any funding for affected students until December.
With students already excited about going back to school, parents and carers of children who have been newly identified to have extra support needs, are finding places jeopardised and even withdrawn at short notice. Rosie has communicated with Patrick Leeson, the Corporate Director of Children, Young People and Education, only to be told that KCC ‘no longer [has] a reserve’. KCC have under-budgeted and as a result are failing some of the most vulnerable students for whom they bear responsibility.
The Council has a duty to administer High Needs Funding Support in cases where students require support costs exceeding £6,000. Rosie says, ‘the outrageous decision from KCC to hold back funding from some of the most vulnerable children in our system must be reviewed. Some parents and carers will have to stop work to look after children without places who now must remain at home. These children have just been assessed and places were offered to them before the summer on the understanding that KCC would fund them where the support costs exceed £6,000. The Council’s decision is an abomination that will result in an increased number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). I have been contacted by concerned Headteachers of primary, secondary and further education provision in Canterbury and Whitstable; this decision by KCC is affecting not only schools in my constituency, but all education provision across of Kent.’
Rosie continues, ‘I will be writing to Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education to demand answers about the behaviour of this Local Authority. The Department for Education must step in as soon as possible. A failure to fix this broken system is a failure of multiple Conservative administrations and I will not stand for it.’