Merton wins prestigious local government award

The South London Special Educational Needs (SEN) Commissioning Programme, of which Merton Council is a founder member, has won a prestigious Local Government Chronicle (LGC) award in the efficiency category.

The boroughs were recognised at the 20th LGC Awards for delivering what the judges called “a deeply impressive project which improved outcomes and saved money for a particularly vulnerable group.” The programme involves specialist officers from across ten London boroughs commissioning SEN placements for children and young people.

The South London SEN commissioning group started in 2013 with Merton as one of the original members and Croydon the lead borough. By working together, councils are able to share best practices together, raising the quality and ensuring best value for the council when commissioning independent school placements for children and young people with special educational needs. In total, the 10 member boroughs have saved over £3m to date.

Merton was also highly commended for their work creating the Mitcham Community Orchard and Garden. The LGC selection panel designated this as the second best project throughout the UK within the community involvement section.

This recognised the joint effort of local residents, Merton Council, Sustainable Merton and local organisations who collectively helped transform the fly-tipped and neglected wasteland area of Fieldgate Lane into a beautiful community space. The area is now filled with organically grown fruit trees, decorative plants and vegetables available to the whole community.

Merton’s acting cabinet member for children’s services and cabinet member for environmental cleanliness and parking, Councillor Judy Saunders, said: “Ensuring children with special educational needs get the right service and placements increase the likelihood of them achieving positive outcomes for their lives. This award recognises the hard work of our officers and those across south London who are committed to making this happen.

“It has been well-documented the state Fieldgate Lane was in before a group of council staff and local groups got together to transform it completely. Being highly commended on a national level is testament to all involved and thoroughly deserved.”