Government Petition
Sign Our Petition! Suspend the Safety Valve programme and provide funding to cover SEND deficits

Councillors sound alarm over fears of being “silenced”

Personal connection to someone with EHCP classed as “non-registerable interest” and must be declared, potentially resulting in exclusion from Safety Valve debate and vote

Councillors sound alarm over fears of being “silenced”
By: Rachel Filmer  | 

Several councillors reached out to us on Friday 16 Feb to let us know they had received concerning legal advice from BCP Council’s monitoring officer.

Moordown Councillor Joe Salmon tweeted his concern and shared a copy of this advice.

Essentially, the advice states that any councillor with a personal connection to someone with an EHCP must declare this as an interest, and they will be unable to participate in the Safety Valve debate or vote, and would even need to leave the room.

The same advice was issued to members of the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny committee in January. Several councillors declared an interest and two sought dispensation, but those who declared an interest were not prevented from being involved in detailed Safety Valve discussions.

While discussing on X, Leader of BCP Council Vikki Slade stated this is because EHCPs are a ‘personal “benefit”’. I would encourage readers to view the full thread and replies here.

We strongly disagree that an EHCP is a personal benefit. It’s a legal right which facilitates equity of access to education. It is being likened to, say, being invested in a company or owning commercial property. It is not the same thing.

Many on X are calling this an erosion of democratic process. As Special Needs Jungle rightly say: “Will there be anyone left? Do they do this about any other aspect of council responsibilities? Council tax? Bins? Environment? Doesn’t everyone have an interest in fair education? Or is it just those who know disabled children who aren’t allowed a say? Discriminatory, much?”

Many councillors will be affected personally by Safety Valve. Children in receipt of SEN support are not listed, but this still requires investment. Teachers, for example, have significant personal interest in this issue but are not included. EHCPs are being singled out.

Slade insists this is not an issue, since councillors “can apply for dispensation”. Who is in charge of deciding whether this dispensation is applied fairly and reasonably?

We will keep you updated.