“Shame on you” - this was the call from campaigners and parents after members of the Shadow Council voted against extra funding for children’s services.

Members of the Dorset Parents Campaign Group for SEND children urged members to take action support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) was at crisis point.

Speaking at the meeting, parent and campaigner, Siobhan Lennon-Patience said: "There is a clear breakdown in trust between parents, schools and the local authority.

"Testament to this was the recent meeting held by Ofsted for parents and carers to express their views. It was clear many feel they are facing a underfunded system.

"Councillor Andrew Parry has admitted Dorset is struggling to meet its legal obligations to SEND children and is having to dip into reserves.

"What we hear daily are issues around assessment delays, poorly planned education health and care plans (EHCP), school exclusions due to unmet needs and parents feeling they have no choice but to home educate.

"It is simply not acceptable just to focus on the statutory services expected on a local authority. Problems such as poor mental health and lack of educational attainment for SEND children are becoming embedded at an early stage and this will ultimately cause major issues for the future – not only for the children themselves but for the services that may have to intervene.

"We have come here today to seek urgent reassurance that SEND children will not continue to bare the brunt of cuts which are detrimental to their health and education and we demand that the local authority confronts government on this issue and makes a case for a significant financial increase with realistic potential to improve the lives of SEND children."

In response to the appeals from parents, Cllr Beryl Ezzard said: "Having listened to the families that have been here today and hearing their distress and real hardship means we aren't serving our families as we should and this is quite a shameful show of failing Dorset's children and families."

Cllr Ezzard asked members to amend the budget to ‘ring fence’ a one-off additional £5million from council reserves to maintain, safeguard and provide stability to children's services.

She also called for a review of children's services to bring them "up to date" and to be "digitally aligned for the future".

However, Cllr Steve Butler hit back saying children's services was "not some dinosaur that needs completely changing".

"It is already under constant review to ensure we keep up with Ofsted and safeguarding inspections," he said. "We have a service improvement plan."

He added the recommendation seemed "pointless".

Cllr Tony Ferrari said the council had already committed to spending more on children’s services.

"Dorset's children's services budget has increased by about £12m over three years. Our policy is and always will be that if a child is at risk we will deal with the situation and then sort the money out later. We need no lectures from opposition parties about the need to care for our children," he said.

"If this was a GCSE in local government it would be marked fail. The amendment talks about spending money...the difficult bit is where the money comes from. We can't change our income. So the proposal to spend more on children's services means spending less on something else. There's a discussion on reserves. The reserves are there in times of uncertainty and to manage risk."

Members voted against the recommendation with 96 votes to 44.