Haringey Council has been accused of “callous disregard” after a disabled Scout troop, based in Bounds Green, was threatened with extinction by a funding cut.
Having caused parents and carers weeks of worry, Haringey Council announced an 11th-hour reprieve this Monday (30th). A senior official apologised for “any anxiety caused.”
On March 19th, Haringey Council informed the 24th Tottenham Scout troop, which caters for 15 girls and boys with disabilities or special needs, that it was going to stop funding its weekly coach. Haringey Council has paid for the coach, which provides a vital link to weekly meetings since 1954. For many boys and girls it is their one social outing of the week.
The cut, operative from March 31st 2009, would have had a severe effect both on the Scouts themselves, their Scouters and their carers and families.
Labour Haringey Council leader Cllr Claire Kober wrote to Paul Mari, Group Scout Leader of the disabled group:
“I am advised that transport had been provided for this group by the Council until October 2008. The cost of this transport was set against the special educational needs home to school transport budget. However, out of school activity is not considered a legitimate expenditure for this source of funding as sessions take place out of school time, on Saturdays and also include some weekend camping trips.”
One council officer wrote to Jacky Linsey, the Troop’s organiser:
“I am sorry to have to inform you that due to funding not being available transport for cubs / scouts has been cancelled as from 31st March 09, therefore making the 31st March the last day. I am sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause your group.
“I hope that the cub/scouts continue as during my time of being involved I have seen many youngsters pass through the transport system, enjoying the time that they attended their sessions.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor John Oakes, Community Involvement spokesperson, comments:
“Without the actions of local residents, with help from myself and others, this callous and unnecessary cut would have gone ahead.
“It must have been suggested by someone with a complete disregard for the heartache it would cause to these families, who have to organise their days and weeks around the most vulnerable member of their family. It’s typical of so much that Haringey does – decide first, think afterwards.”
Lynne Featherstone MP, adds:
“I am shocked that Haringey Council would even consider treating people like this. The local Scout group helps the lives of children, their parents and carers enormously.”