Parents claim Suffolk County Council’s consultation on proposals to close school centres for children with additional needs is ‘flawed’ and ‘inaccurate’

Joanna Hammond is concerned for her son Riley, four, who has autisim and global development delay co

Joanna Hammond is concerned for her son Riley, four, who has autisim and global development delay conditions, as Specialist Support Centre he attends at Gorseland Primary may be closed. - Credit: Su Anderson

Angry parents have claimed Suffolk County Council has supplied inaccurate information on controversial proposals which could see eight school centres for children with additional needs close.

The council says the centres, which are for pupils with conditions like autism, are under-used and £250,000 would be saved if they were closed – but parents contest this.

They claim the underspend is only around £30,000 as there are only three free spaces for children available at the “Specialist Support Centres” (SSC). There are 103 students who use the centres which cost £1.4million a year to run.

Joanna Hammond, from Falkenham, near Ipswich, and mother of four-year-old Riley, who has autism and global development delay conditions, said the council’s consultation into the proposal contained “flawed” and “inaccurate” information.

She represents a group fighting the proposals which have got 4,000 people backing a petition calling for the centres to stay open.

“The whole consultation has been based on a series of contradictions and inaccurate information and is the reason it has been put on hold.

“The truth is the consultation has been put on hold and we have no idea what Suffolk County Council’s future proposal will be, or when it will be delivered.

“We are just grateful that they have acknowledged their initial paper was inaccurate and flawed on many levels and have gone away to revise this.”

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The county council has now halted the consultation to examine the proposals which had four options for the centres, including closure. A spokeswoman for the Conservative-controlled authority said: “Having received some responses to the consultation it is clear that we need to provide more detailed information around the proposals we are asking people to comment on.

“Once this work has been done we will revisit the consultation timeline to ensure that people have sufficient time to give their views before any decisions are taken.”

The centres run alongside mainstream schools in Sudbury, Ipswich, Martlesham Heath and Felixstowe.

Jack Abbott, Labour’s candidate for the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich seat at the forthcoming General Election, has backed the parents.

He said the centres should be kept opened and not closed for saving £250,000.