Somerset

Parents launch legal bid against Somerset council cuts

Protestors outside Shire Hall
Image caption There were protests outside a council meeting at Shire Hall in September

Parents have begun a legal challenge against a cash-strapped council over cuts to services for children with special needs and disabilities (Send).

Conservative-run Somerset County Council announced £28m of major cuts to services in September.

The plans include cutting funding for youth groups and axing staff from the GetSet programme, which provides support to vulnerable families.

Two families say the cuts are unlawful and are considering a judicial review.

Image copyright Gemma Drummond-Walker
Image caption Gemma Drummond-Walker said the situation is "at crisis point"

Solicitors acting on their behalf have written to to the authority putting forward a legal case against the cuts which they say will have a negative impact on their children.

One of the parents involved, Gemma Drummond-Walker, from Frome, said her son Max was autistic and relies on the services it provides to families of Send children.

"We've been left with no other option. [Vulnerable people] have been heavily affected by the proposed cuts and they are the people that need help and support.

"I feel that if we stand together and say 'enough is enough' then people will start listening. We are at crisis point."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Somerset County Council is struggling to balance its budget

James Betts, from law firm Irwin Mitchell added: "We don't think the council have made an informed decision because they've not properly considered the impact the cuts can have."

In a statement, the authority said it was "clear that this council has made a series of difficult decisions over the past few months which has involved considerable engagement, and consultation where appropriate".

It added: "That does not mean we do not have enormous sympathy and understanding for all those who do no support these decisions."

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