“The John McNeill Centre is what a caring, community-minded place like Salisbury should be all about,” says the mother of a three-year-old boy who describes the special needs nursery as “a lifeline”.

Vicki Shipsey’s three-year-old son Jack has Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy and goes to the John McNeill Centre three mornings a week.

Mrs Shipsey would like him to be able to go for longer and more frequently but lack of funding means the pressure on places is huge and there is a long waiting list.

“As soon as I walked in there I knew it was a place where he would be safe and well looked after,” she said.

“The staff are so hard working and they base their approach on the latest research.

“They continue supporting the children once they start school and also enable parents to meet and support each other.

“The money they have cut, £10,000, is nothing to the council with its huge budgets but makes a massive difference to the John McNeill Centre.

“It is not a needy organisation always asking for more – they just want enough to break even and keep offering their excellent and vital service.

“Why is it always the people who need help most who lose out?

“They have to stop hitting the most vulnerable people with constant cuts.”