ACTIVISTS campaigning for more support for special educational needs children in Wokingham borough are set to demonstrate outside the council’s offices on Thursday (July 18).

Protesters are unhappy with how much Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) is spending on its housing consultation – expected to be between £50,000 and £100,000 – and argue this money would be better-spent funding care for those with special needs and disabilities.

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Campaigner Ruth Rae suggested the cost was a “colossal waste of money” when provisions for people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) needs better funding.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “In my opinion it is wrong of the council to spend that sum of money on trying to wriggle out of the government’s housing targets by using us residents as pawns.

“(The protest) is partly a continuation of the SEND National Crisis campaign – many areas are still actively protesting the cuts to services and provision, and in Wokingham the council department has just had a terrible Ofsted report.

“We intend to have our banners and placards outside the council offices from 6pm on the day so we can lobby councillors arriving for their first meeting.”

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Councillors are due to come together for their final full meeting before summer recess on Thursday, July 18.

One campaigner is set to stand up at the meeting to ask WBC children’s services boss Cllr UllaKarin Clark ‘How does the council prioritise funding for children and young adults with special needs and disabilities when it is able to find £80k to fund a consultation on housing in the borough?’

Cllr Clark will face a series of questions from other campaigners demanding action to improve SEND services at the authority.

Other residents are set to quiz the councillor on why some families are waiting up to 18 months for assessments, what the council is doing to address staff shortages in its relevant department, what work is underway to address an ‘inequitable’ SEND system and more.

Liberal Democrats Cllr Andrew Mickleburgh said: ‘It is a scandal that children with special educational and related needs are not getting all the support that they need, in a timely manner.

“Early intervention is vital to achieve the best possible outcomes.”

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Wokingham Borough Council has been contacted for comment.