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Conservative Cllr Sam Murray demands resignations at Suffolk County Council following damning SEND report





A Conservative councillor says she feels ‘disgusting’ for her party’s lack of action and has called for resignations.

Cllr Sam Murray said she was disappointed with Suffolk County Council’s failings in providing services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and called for resignations from her party’s senior level.

This followed Tuesday’s damning Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) report which revealed widespread systemic failings within the council’s SEND provision, with children falling through the cracks of the system.

Sam Murray, county councillor for Whitehouse and Whitton, has two children with SEND, says she continues to experience first-hand what families have to go through top get their children the care they need. Picture: Suffolk County Council
Sam Murray, county councillor for Whitehouse and Whitton, has two children with SEND, says she continues to experience first-hand what families have to go through top get their children the care they need. Picture: Suffolk County Council

Cllr Murray, who has two children with SEND, says she continues to experience first-hand what families have to go through to get their children the care they need.

In a statement, she added: “I have opened up a lot of old wounds for my family and shared our entire SEND journey with colleagues in the hope that they would see how truly awful the journey is for families.

“But I go home every time as a ball of frustration feeling like nothing is changing and if it is like we are being told, it is certainly not seen or felt by families in need.”

Cllr Murray’s child was four years old at the time of diagnosis but it was only at the age of 11 when she finally secured an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

Tusday’s report is the third of its kind outlining deep-rooted problems within the council’s management of SEND provision.

She said: “I have sat on the education scrutiny committee where, during the meeting, the officers began to pack up and informed us they have a team meeting to attend.

Cllr Murray has demanded resignations from her party’s senior level in the wake of the damning Ofsted and CQC SEND report.
Cllr Murray has demanded resignations from her party’s senior level in the wake of the damning Ofsted and CQC SEND report.

“Such disdain for politicians and the scrutiny function oozed out of this moment, where we had an expectation that officers answerable to us stayed for the whole meeting, and officers clearly didn’t think it was important.”

Also in the report was a direct criticism of the council’s leadership and governance which, Cllr Murray said, was not surprising and warranted resignations at the senior level.

She said: “I feel disgusting for being part of a group that’s not doing anything. If that means I am now kicked out of the group for speaking the truth, then so be it.

“I need to be able to look my children in the eyes and know I did the right thing.”

County leader, Cllr Matthew Hicks, said: “I want to reiterate my apology to the children and the families who have experienced a very difficult time.

“We will do everything we can to improve the service.”

Addressing the calls for resignations, he said the council had already made changes to the department’s management, with the appointment of a new director for children and young people coming soon.

Although Cllr Hicks said it wouldn’t be appropriate to re-shuffle his cabinet during the budget-setting process, he did reveal one would come later in the year when Cllr Richard Rout stepped down in May to stand as a Westminster candidate for the new Waveney Valley constituency.