Parents will continue to fight against cuts to Mapledown School, Cricklewood, after stay of execution

Times Series: 'This could happen again' - parents will continue to fight for Mapledown School 'This could happen again' - parents will continue to fight for Mapledown School

Parents remain cautious at news after-school activities at a disabled school have won a stay of execution for another year.

Hundreds rallied together to block “cruel” cuts to Mapledown School, in Claremont Road, Cricklewood, which would have had dramatic repercussions on their daily lives.

Less than a month after the Times Series broke the story, councillors reversed the decision – but blamed a “constitutional mess” which they said was created when Barnet Borough Council’s scrutiny committee ordered the plans to be sent back to the drawing board.

In a statement late Friday, Conservative council leader Richard Cornelius said the call-in had effectively frozen £1.9m worth of its budget for other services.

But although the news is a step in the right direction for the parents – many of whom would have had to quit their jobs if the clubs were to be cancelled – they are remaining optimistically cautious.

Barnet mother Eddie Dei juggles caring for her two severely autistic sons, Tevin and Ross, with working night shifts as a nurse.

She told the Times Series: “Every spare moment I have, I sleep because I am so exhausted. The club is a true lifeline because it’s one of the only places they can thrive – the cuts are cruel.

“It’s my own form of respite, normality away from disability. They help me sleep and work. If they cut this again, the children will suffer at the hands of their stressed parents. I'd have to leave the job I love.

“Disabled children have nothing – but this is one thing they do have. They need to save this again next year to protect our wellbeing, and to help us cope with our demanding lives.”

Earlier this month, Councillor Rueben Thompstone admitted he has never visited the school and he did not read responses to a consultation about the hefty cuts.

The Tory party were accused of “putting votes before the disabled” as the cuts came in the same year they lowered council tax by just £7.40 for residents on the lowest band.

Tina Kwabi, whose son, David, 14, goes to the school, said: “The club is my son’s life so I am so happy with the result.

“But at the back of my mind is the worry that this could happen again. Nothing is set in stone yet, the people who stopped our money have no idea what this means to us.

“I am glad we have made a difference, but we now need to fight and to raise awareness so this does not happen again next year.”

The cuts will be reviewed by the new Education Committee under the new council in 2015.

Kirstine Canavan, who has been fighting the campaign on behalf of her son, Liam, is determined to see it through to the bitter end.

She said: “It’s such a relief. I want to thank the council for referring the cuts back and MP candidate Sarah Sackman for standing up for us.

“I hope when Councillor Thompstone visits the school, he will restore funding for years to come. For now, it means we can continue giving our children the wonderful experience we had before.

“We’re still digesting the information and several details need to be worked out, but for now, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Although the cuts came into force on April 1, the services are due to be reinstated next week.

They have also been heavily supported by Labour MP candidate Sarah Sackman.

She said: “We would like to thank the Times Series for bringing this to the forefront. Without them we never would have known about this.

“We’re cautiously optimistic and for now, we’re reserving our joy. This whole issue has caused a lot of anxiety and inconvenience. Everyone in our community should be treated with respect.

“We now need to look at the detail to understand what it means for the school and other institutions, moving forward.”

The Times Series has contacted Cllr Richard Cornelius for a comment.

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