Council's pledge to deliver SENCOM service for Newport
Posted on Thursday 10th January 2019
Newport City Council has a responsibility to deliver the best services to local communities and that includes its pledge to deliver the service provided by SENCOM.
It is important to restate that the new arrangement will not result in a cut to current service provision.
Over the last few weeks there has been media coverage which suggests our decision to establish a Newport only service will cause disruption for service users and also destabilise the remaining partnership.
The council does not understand why a judicial review of the decision to withdraw from the SENCOM service partnership has been called for when there are no proposed changes to the service to be delivered by Newport.
The council understands the priority given to regional working and we are fully committed to working in partnerships, as shown for example through our ongoing engagement with the Gwent Ethnic Minority Service and the South East Wales Education Advisory Service.
However we have a duty to secure value for money for all Newport council taxpayers and the business case we have developed not only protects the service to current users, it also demonstrates we are able to provide the service in a more cost effective manner.
We are also surprised at the nature of the ongoing coverage as we are aware of correspondence from the head of SENCOM to councillors in one of the other Gwent authorities offering reassurances that the service to the four authorities remaining in the SENCOM service partnership will not be destabilised and users will not be affected.
Throughout all our discussions our prime focus has been on reassuring the 380 families whose children receive the service. Comments in the media suggesting otherwise are misinformed and are unnecessarily creating stress for service users.
Officers from the council have contacted Mrs Battersby offering her reassurances that the support to her grandson will not be affected.
Discussions are also ongoing with other staff in SENCOM who will be transferred across to the Newport service.
*Information previously provided in statements
Newport City Council gave notice to Torfaen on 1 October and letters were sent out to parents and carers on 15 October to inform them of the new service delivery arrangements and have ensured they have clear routes through which to raise any questions or concerns.
A newsletter about SENCOM and the Newport service was delivered to all parents and carers at the end of December.
The council will continue to work with all the families to ensure the transition to a Newport only service meets their needs.
The council is confident that the council has acted legally and appropriately throughout the process.