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Leader – SEND, deliver

HC Crest

At a time of drastic cuts to local government funding, Hackney Council stands out as a beacon of aspiration for its efforts to defend the needs of people with disabilities.

Not only has it supported campaigners calling for more SEND funding; it has also pushed for Hackney Downs station to be made more accessible.

Yet when you peek under the surface, the council’s approach to disability is lacking in consistency.

Our story about the father of a blind child who endured an as yet fruitless struggle to retain a disabled parking space is but one example.

And the council’s initial presentation of Fire Risk Assessment maps sparked complaints after it made it near impossible for visually-impaired people to access them.

Also emblematic of the Town Hall’s approach was its creation of a SEND crisis task force last year which then didn’t meet for three months.

What’s more, the local authority has pushed back against demands for a pay rise for bus drivers of SEND children, and has delayed vital respite funding for families and carers.

There is a pattern here: when the responsibility for supporting disabled services lies with national government (SEND funding) or TfL (Hackney Downs station), the council campaigns hard and noisily for change.

But when it comes to their own services, aspiration is not matched by action.

The council must get serious about putting the needs of disabled people at the heart of everything it delivers.

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