Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) given greater focus as part of Suffolk County Council’s cabinet reshuffle
Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has been given a greater focus as part of a reshuffle of Suffolk County Council’s cabinet announced today.
Cllr Andrew Reid, will take the role of cabinet member for SEND and education while Cllr Debbie Richards will support him as deputy member.
The role previously included oversight of skills, but to enable more political focus and accountability on urgent improvements on SEND services, it has been moved to Cllr Richard Smith to sit alongside his existing responsibilities for economic development, transport strategy and waste.
A new SEND improvement board is also being established to help drive forward reform.
Cllr Bobby Bennett has been appointed as cabinet member for children and young people (CYP) services.
Two deputy cabinet members have been promoted with Cllr Philip Faircloth-Mutton now cabinet member for equality and communities and Cllr Craig Rivett as cabinet member for public health and public protection.
Alongside these changes, a number of new faces have come in as deputy members as well.
Cllr Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s leader, said: “I have taken decisive action today to ensure that this authority continues to have a strong cabinet, with a focus on delivering our priorities.
“It is clear that we have not seen the improvements necessary in SEND services. However, I am confident in the determination and tenacity of both Andrew Reid and Debbie Richards to help council officers drive those improvements forward.
“As a cabinet we have a collective mission, we must see real and lasting improvement in SEND services and deliver on the wider ambitions of this council. The people of Suffolk deserve nothing less.
“Alongside these changes, I am welcoming a number of new faces to the cabinet and deputy cabinet roles.”
The Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Lowestoft, Adam Robertson, has claimed that the reshuffled cabinet from Cllr Hicks, has shown ‘no fundamental change of approach’ in tackling the SEND crisis within Suffolk.
Mr Robertson pointed out that the SEND portfolio is not a role within itself, despite the criticism from OFSTED into SEND portfolio last week.
He also raised whether there is going to be a ‘fundamental change of approach’ into tackling SEND.
“The reshuffled cabinet shows no fundamental change of approach in tackling the SEND crisis within Suffolk,” said Mr Robertson.
“When Oxfordshire County Council had a bad SEND report last September, Oxfordshire’s Leader Liz Leffman acted by creating a role solely focussing on SEND improvement and making it more accessible.”
“It seems the Leader of the county council has only changed the composition of the cabinet, rather than committing to an overhaul of SEND services within Suffolk.
“I am ultimately concerned with no fundamental change of approach. Families and children with SEND experiences are going to be left with a still inadequate service of SEND within the county.”
A full list of the new cabinet and deputy cabinet members is below.
Leader – Cllr Matthew Hicks
Deputy Leader and Finance and Environment – Cllr Richard Rout
SEND and Education – Cllr Andrew Reid*
Economic Development, Transport Strategy, Waste and Skills – Cllr Richard Smith MVO*
Children and Young People’s Services – Cllr Bobby Bennett*
Public Health and Public Protection – Cllr Craig Rivett*
Equality and Communities – Cllr Philip Faircloth-Mutton*
Adult Care – Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger
Ipswich, Operation Highways and Flooding – Cllr Paul West
Deputy Cabinet Members:
Transport Strategy - Cllr Alexander Nicoll
Highway Drainage – Cllr Steve Wiles
Protected Landscapes and Archaeology – Cllr Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro
County Farms and Property – Cllr Nadia Cenci*
Fostering and Adoption – Cllr David Roach*
Transformation – Cllr Heike Sowa*
SEND – Cllr Debbie Richards*
*Indicates a change to the previous cabinet member and deputy cabinet member roles.