CHILDREN in Barrow with special educational needs face a 'lottery' in accessing additional funding, councillors have warned.

Barrow council has unanimously agreed to do more to help local children with special education needs or disabilities.

It follows a recent report by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission which identified ‘significant’ areas of weakness to ‘SEND’ services in Cumbria.

They are provided by Cumbria County Council alongside the clinical commissioning groups representing Morecambe Bay and North Cumbria.

The motion was tabled by Cllr Hayley Preston and backed by council leader Ann Thomson at a meeting of the full council in Barrow Town Hall.

Cllr Preston, the Labour member for Risedale, said: “Following the SEND National Crisis March in May I felt the march could not be the end to our actions. Although Barrow Borough Council doesn’t deliver SEND financial support we have a duty to support the young people and families in the wards we all represent.”

The motion was backed by Cllr Shaun Blezard who called on the council to ‘put aside party politics’ and move forward together to help. He said: “There are fundamental blocks there at the moment but by working more closely with the families I hope we can help to help to improve the system, from advocating for our residents to lobbying central government to fund the service to the levels it needs.”

Cllr Hazel Edwards, leader of the opposition Conservative group and a former teacher, said the motion had her party’s full support. Having taught in schools, she said she had experience of services designed for children with special needs and disabilities.

Cllr Edwards said: “There has never been a cohesive approach to providing SEND services schools throughout the county. It’s almost a lottery and always has been – regardless of political control.”

Cllr Tony Callister, the Labour member for Walney North, said councils could be the ‘cleverest magicians’ but without the proper Government funding, they would always struggle to provide proper services.

Cllr Alan Pemberton, the Conservative for Hawcoat, supported the motion but said the government had inherited the nation’s finances from Labour which had left it without sufficient funding.