Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Vote to strike over children's centre closures

MEMBERS of the Unite union working for Oxfordshire County Council will be balloted on strike action over the authority’s plans to shut its 44 children centres and seven early intervention hubs.

MEMBERS of the Unite union working for Oxfordshire County Council will be balloted on strike action over the authority’s plans to shut its 44 children centres and seven early intervention hubs.

The union, which represents staff in the hubs, claims the cuts will put 420 jobs at risk.

It will begin balloting members from Monday and the ballot will end on February 5.

The county wants to replace the centres and hubs with eight children and family centres in order to save £8million.

It means the children’s centres at the d:two centre in Market Place, Henley, Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common and Chalgrove and Watlington are under threat.

This proposal is one of three options being considered by the council and its “preferred” choice.

The council says the moves is in response to large cuts to local council funding and “stark financial challenges”.

Last month, it announced it would have to make another £20million in savings over the next four years on top of more than £50million already planned following a “bleak” funding settlement from the Government.

Unite claims that vital support services for children, young people and their parents, from stay and play sessions to open access youth sessions, could vanish.

Regional officer Chris Gray said: “We are urging councillors to find an alternative solution to these damaging cuts and to vote against the proposals at the budget meeting on February 16. The future of Oxfordshire’s children’s early intervention service is in their hands.

“They would do well to remember that cuts to children’s early intervention services are the falsest of false economies.

“Our members protect children and young people from more costly interventions like social services, mental health services and prison.”

Children’s centres offer activities for under-fives and information and support for parents. Early intervention hubs, introduced in 2011, are designed to bring together services supporting children and families.

In a second option there would be eight centres but the council would continue to provide or commission limited universal services.

Under the third option there would be six centres.



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