In the full Oxfordshire County Council meeting on the 3rd of November, a motion backed by all Labour, Green and Liberal council members to protect and support all our invaluable local children’s centres across the county was defeated by 30 in favour and 32 against with 1 abstention.
JUST TWO VOTES and the immensely important support that these centres provide would have been saved for our children and families in the county and for our future. Voting against the motion were all the Conservatives and two allied Independent councillors.
They acted in stark opposition to a long letter to Oxfordshire County Council, circulated to council members from the Prime Minister David Cameron criticising the proposed closures, which stated:
“I was disappointed at the long list of suggestions floated in the briefing note to make significant cuts to frontline services…in addition to the unwelcome and counter-productive proposals to close children’s centres across the county…..I would have hoped that Oxfordshire would have instead be following the best practise – and protecting frontline services.”
The vote against saving all 44 centres and early years’ intervention was despite the objections by health, social care and educational professionals across the county who have endorsed the essential universal service that the local children’s centres provide in giving children the best start in life.
They all stress that the essential preventative work that the 44 local Children’s Centres do, with, for example, midwives, health visitors, pre-schools, child protection and mental health support workers, create huge savings down the line in health, social care and education budgets.
None of Oxfordshire’s ten neighbouring local Authorities have attacked the universal provision of Children’s Centres. The full consultation process is not complete and final decisions are still to be made by the council. A vote to save the centres can still be taken, we must ensure next time our children win.
Our campaign urges parents, children, grandparents and supporters from across the county and from every threatened centre to keep up the pressure.
It is clearly having SUCH AN IMPACT!!
Please bring music, placards, banners, to our demonstration “Invest in Our Future – Make Your Voices Heard!” Saturday 14th November, Assemble 1pm Bonn Square Oxford
The full council motion is detailed below:
“Council recognises that early intervention services for young families need to be very local and would like to see additional options that respond more fully to this need. Council requests that the Cabinet remove from any future budget proposals options that might involve the closure of any of the Children’s Centres. Council considers that the closures would be a false economy resulting in greater financial pressures on children’s social care services and the local NHS. During the next six months the Council will also assist the Children’s Centres in their ongoing efforts for greater efficiency where they can”