Frustrated parents are calling for Sutton Council's head of special needs services to resign having found her "failure to engage to be astonishing and concerning."

The Sutton EHCP Crisis Group issued a statement backing demands made last week by Sutton Conservatives that SEND portfolio holder Cllr Jenny Batt steps down, holding her responsible for around 700 children being rejected for special needs assessments "unlawfully".

Campaigners argue the Liberal Democrat council should be held to account for failures in SEND services, about which "significant concerns" were raised by Ofsted inspectors earlier this year.

A spokesperson for the group said: "Our campaign group is apolitical, but we do greatly appreciate any help anyone will offer us.

"With this in mind, in response to the recent press statement by the Sutton Conservatives, we would like to state that we do agree with what has been called for.

"This is on the basis that at every meeting we have had with her to date, Ms. Batt has failed to say anything to us nor give any written response.

"Given that her position is one of Head of SEND for the borough we have found her complete failure to engage to be both astonishing and concerning."

Earlier this month the Council appointed an independent expert, Sharon Scott, to advise on improvements to Cognus, the largely Council owned company in charge of SEND school support, after more than 500 parents signed a petition calling for a review.

Tracey Burley, former managing director of Cognus, has since decided to stand down.

Cllr Lily Bande, Conservative spokesperson for SEND issues, said in response: “Unfortunately, as with many of the problematic issues that face this Liberal Democrat administration, officers are being put in the firing line to protect the politicians who are failing our children and who are ultimately accountable to the residents of this borough.

“We therefore call on the SEN portfolio holder for the Liberal Democrats, Cllr Jenny Batt, to offer her resignation to council, to demonstrate to the public that this administration is serious about driving change within this vital area of the running of Sutton Council.”

EHCP Crisis Group argue that Ms Scott's review should be extended to also cover the role of Sutton Council.

A spokesperson for the group added: "Aside from this we do look forward to meeting with Ms. Scott in the coming weeks and hope that she will be given the scope and freedom to report completely impartially and in the public interest, that her full report is made available publicly."

Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said: "The Council has a clear plan to tackle SEND issues since it agreed its Written Statement of Action. This plan was backed by the Opposition and shows our determination to improve services.

"Cllr Batt and Cllr James are taking the lead in implementing a programme of change by working with parents and schools. Any resignation would detract from this work and hinder the progress being made.

"Cllr Batt has attended meetings with parents of the Crisis group, has engaged on an individual level at parents forum events and most recently attended a surgery with Clr James for parents to speak directly to both.

"If the Opposition councillors have any positive and constructive ideas to share with us to help improve SEND services, we will be glad to hear them. We are determined to ensure that all children living in our borough receive excellent services - token gestures are of no use to anyone."

Ian Comfort, Chair of the Board of Directors of Cognus, said: “On behalf of all of the Board, I would like to thank Tracey Burley for the excellent work she has done leading Cognus over the last two-and-a-half years.

"Tracey has achieved a great deal and the organisation is in a good position as we look forward, and so she has decided it is now time for a change.

"Under her leadership, we have secured considerable additional funds from central government, implemented new successful programmes to support children and young people, and most importantly we have made strong improvements to all our services and we continue to focus on improving the SEN service even further.

"There is more to do to complete this journey but I am proud of the progress we have made so far. We all wish Tracey every success for the future.

“I have asked Bob Harrison, our Service Director, to lead the organisation during August and have every confidence he will do an excellent job.

"This allows the Board time to consider interim arrangements until such time as a new Managing Director is recruited.”