A SUPPORT organisation for parents of special needs children which faces having its funding withdrawn has won a reprieve after angry protests.
Intuition Parent Partnership was set up three years ago to take on services previously provided by Ealing Council to link children with learning difficulties and disabilities to schools, health and social services.
But the Ealing-based charity was not invited to tender for a new contract when its current agreement expires in December, prompting outrage from parents who fear the service will be taken over by an outside organisation with no experience of working in the borough.
Protesters gathered outside Ealing Town Hall on Tuesday to voice their anger, prompting cabinet to postpone a decision to award the £137,000 contract elsewhere. Details of the proposed successor are confidential, but it is thought an east London-based organisation may have been lined up by council officers.
Farzana Kahn, of Shaftesbury Gardens, Acton, who relied on Intuition for help after her four-year-old daughter Aarzoo was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, said: "It's really disheartening. The help I've had so far from them has been exceptional.
Peter Hillman, 43, of Freeland Road, Ealing, said: "We are at a loss to understand why they are doing what they're doing.
"It's vital the current service continues, otherwise school pupils will not get the special education needs help that they are entitled to."
Intuition was one of 10 organisations which complete a 'pre-qualifying questionnaire' for the tendering process in April, but was not among the seven invited to provide detailed proposals in July. An appeal was rejected three times.
Labour leader Julian Bell said Intuition was seen in a "very positive light" regionally and nationally: "We need to be looking to sometimes protect these small local providers who in this instance are providing an excellent service."
Council leader Jason Stacey said: "Whether someone is an existing service provider or a potential new provider, we have to treat each organisation as the same. It always makes it diffi-cult when there is an existing provider who is well known and has been around for a number of years.
A decision will be made on October 14.