Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Council drops services cuts after protest

CUTS of £4million set to hit children’s and elderly day centres were dropped as a revised budget was agreed by Oxfordshire County Council.

CHILDREN’S centres in Henley and Sonning Common have been given a last-minute reprieve.

Oxfordshire County Council has agreed a revised budget, which means it will not go ahead with £2 million of savings relating to 44 children's centres and seven early intervention hubs across the county.

However, £6 million of savings agreed a year ago will go ahead and the council still needs to cut another £69 million by 2020.

The move was agreed at the end of an eight-hour council meeting yesterday (Tuesday), which was preceded by an anti-cuts demonstration by about 200 people.

It means the children's centre at the d:two centre in Market Place, Henley, and Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common will stay open. Both are run for the council by the charity Action for Children.

Negotiations between political groups have led to the savings being configured in a different way.

In a joint statement, Conservative council leader Ian Hudspeth, Labour leader Liz Brighouse and Lib-Dem leader Richard Webber said: “We felt strongly that, given the unprecedented financial position that Oxfordshire County Council in particular and local government in general is facing, we had to come to a cross-party agreement on what is best for Oxfordshire.

“These changes and the agreement we have made are also very much in response to feedback from local residents, including those who spoke to the council today.”

A total of £3 million of savings relating to day centres – including transport– will now not take place. Instead, they will be replaced by a saving of £1 million from 2017/18 resulting from a review of day services for older people.

There will be a further £300,000 contribution to the budget from reserves.

The council will now be able to set a balanced budget in 2016/17 but still has to identify another £15.2 million of overall savings, as opposed to the previous figure of £11.2 million.



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