South Abingdon Children’s Centre Celebration

March 18, 2017

South Abingdon Childrens Centre
This afternoon there was a party to celebrate the work of the South Abingdon Children’s Centre.
South Abingdon Childrens Centre
The Children’s Centre has been a place where children up to five, and their familes, can find a variety of activities, play, information and support from professionals working in a wide range of fields.
South Abingdon Childrens Centre
At the party were Morris Dancers, and staff, Carbon Cutters, and volunteers, along with many familes that have used the facilities.

South Abingdon Childrens Centre
The Children’s Centre opened about sixteen years ago as a replacement for the Family Centre on Saxton Road. It is recognised that there has always been the need for such a place in this part of town to give children a good start in life.

Budget cuts mean that the County Council are now strictly targeting families at risk, and Children’s Centres across Oxfordshire are closing.
South Abingdon Childrens Centre
It is yet to be seen how the South Abingdon Children’s Centre will find new life. The Green Man recited a poem about new life from old, and the phoenix rising from the ashes. The future could be as a part of Caldecott School with a charity group running part of the premises. That is still being worked on.

Filed under: community groups

30 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Daniel  |  March 18, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    You’d do well to remember that the people who make decisions about cuts to these services (at OCC) are paid almost as much, if not more, than the Priminister….

    So, when ‘cuts and savings’ need to be made….it is better that such decisions effect the most needy in society, than effect their hefty salaries.

    Remember that, next time you choose to vote. The people deciding “where roundabouts​ go”, earn more (or similar) to the people deciding on things like Trident.

    Thank goodness these ex-spurts have our best interests at heart.

  • 2. Iain  |  March 19, 2017 at 10:06 am

    If you want to look at waste in our democratic system a good place to start is the number of people we have who we pay to wear a chain on our behalf. None of these guys actually run the councils, they chair about six meetings a year and attend events as the council’s public face.

    Chairman of County Council: Michael Waine:
    extra allowance (on top of allowance for being a councillor) £7000 pa

    Chairman of the Vale: Michael Badcock
    Extra allowance (on top of that for being a councillor)
    £4800 pa

    Mayor of Abingdon: Alice Badcock
    Allowance £3200 pa

    This excludes the administratvie support that we also pay for.

    Personally I think it’s quite good that we have a face of the town, and the mayor is part of a long established tradition, but it seems a waste of money to have three people busy attending each others balls.

  • 3. Captainkaos2  |  March 19, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Bet you wouldn’t be saying that if your attempt at being a councillor hadn’t ended so abruptly and you just may have been wearing a chain yourself? Lord forbid !!

  • 4. Iain  |  March 19, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    I opposed allowances when i was a councillor too Steve – check your facts before casting aspersions

  • 5. Captainkaos2  |  March 19, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Are you saying you did not take any remuneration then Iain ?

  • 6. Iain  |  March 19, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Yes – but thats not my point

    We have three of these posts which cost us quite a bit of money and we only need one max

  • 7. Captainkaos2  |  March 19, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Agreed Iain, but which one? while you may be quite correct in suggesting that one person/councillor may be paid by three councils for asking the same questions three times, where does it stop? Was it Lou Grade who said 50% of advertising is useless, but which 50%?, and its the same with council, which tier is the excess one? The one we could divide and abolish?

  • 8. Iain  |  March 19, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I just looked at the OCC website to see how much they pay in allowances to councillors.

    For one month only its £69k so presumably for a year it is £827k.

    I dont know exactly how much the South Abingdon Children’s Centre costs to run but I bet it’s a lot less than that.

    Given they are all standing for reelection at the moment perhaps the candidates should volunteer to give up their allowances in order to save the children’s centre! What do people think?

  • 9. Steve E  |  March 19, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    I can’t believe we actually pay these kind of allowances; talk about waste in times of austerity. As far as I can see, the only thing Mike Badcock has delivered is a poorly thought through cafe/cum village hall offer for the Guildhall. As expected, the ‘business case’ has fallen through at the first hurdle – why would we want to reward these poeple?

    Abdication from formal positions is a long held and honourable tradition. Mike Badcock clearly isn’t up to the job, so should really step down and let someone else who has the skills try and move the town forward.

    I also note that the Government have finally cracked down on MPs employing family members or connected individuals because it is “out of step” with modern employment practices. I have strong opposition to the idea that we should have two local councillors from the same family. IMHO there is an obvious conflict of interest and it shouldn’t be permitted, at least in terms of voting rights.

  • 10. Captainkaos2  |  March 19, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Iain i have been fortunate enough to have sat on remuneration panels for both the vale and occ, the vale for more than five years, occ about 5 months,
    I think it was 2008 when I first sat on the vales panel and in that year (David buckles first year?) we managed to reduce the overall cost to the tax payer by some £50k and for the next five or so years we scrutinised every penny that was attributed to councillors, so I can speak on this subject with absolute first hand experience and knowledge.
    Yes the cost of running 50!60 or so councillors comes directly out of mine & yours council tax, but the trick, the conundrum, is to make the position of being a councillor open to all walks of life, not the preserve of the more fortunate, the land owners, farmers, retired teachers, civil servants and the like, but the mechanics, plumbers, waste collectors the real everyday people of our community who ought to be able to represent their community without being financially disadvantaged for taking time out?
    I resigned from OCC remuneration panel about 4 years ago because they would not agree to raise Ian Hudspeth’s paltry pay from about £26k a year ! £26k a year for taking more flak than the CEO of OCC who was on £150k for doing a lessor job!
    Iain it’s so easy to see a figure ( the one you quoted) then pick it to pieces without knowing of having an understanding of what joe public is actually getting?

  • 11. Iain  |  March 19, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    i hear this argument all the time Steve and I simply dont believe it.

    The leaders of councils are not chief executives, we pay for chief executives and directors of services as well.

    I also dont believe the social representation argument. if that was the case then you wouldn’t see unpaid volunteers all over the place, sports coaches, scout/guide leaders, school governors, local society steering groups, running community centres, religious groups, etc.

    I’ve sat on a council, and have served on 8 voluntary boards/committees/steering groups of various varieties and I can genuinely say the council was no more or less representative of society as a whole.

    I simply dont agree that the public get better value for throwing nearly a million quid at some councillors that spending that same money keeping the childrens centres open.

    Maybe the remuneration committees need to take a harder line like they are doing in other sectors.

  • 12. Chris John  |  March 19, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Any chance you two can exchange e mail addresses so we dont all have to read your self promotion

  • 13. Captainkaos2  |  March 19, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Ha ha Chris point taken

  • 14. Daniel  |  March 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    I think it is good to be reminded that, when shameful decisions are made to close such worthy services as children centres, due to “cut backs”, the cut backs to waste were to address the obscene salaries and pensions and allowances as highlighted above – or that it can even be mooted to spend £15000 on a flag pole on the County Hall, not to cut back what’s needed and KEEP the waste.

    The very fact that the leader of The Veil is paid almost the same as The Priminister pretty much sums it up. From there downwards the slurry flows.

    Perhaps we could employ a consultant to work it all out?

  • 15. Victor  |  March 19, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    How typical of the self obsessed ‘elite’ of Abingdon to completely ignore the human element of backstreeter’s story. This is/was a wonderful place for children, with wonderful staff, something that will be sorely missed.

  • 16. Iain  |  March 19, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    I note none of the county council candidates have commented – i know most of them read this blog so you can interpret as you will.

  • 17. newcomer  |  March 19, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Daniel,

    We may need consultants to advise how effectively ‘three people are busily attending each others balls’ (see 2 above ;0)

    …. I thought Iain’s flash of humour should not go unappreciated …

  • 18. Iain  |  March 19, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Ty :) – i knew i liked you Bill!

  • 19. davidofLuton  |  March 20, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Perhaps I can offer a different perspective, since my wife was chair of the Vale for a year recently?

    For most of the year she was out several evenings a week and most weekends – sometimes attending three or four events on a Saturday. Most of them were not “chain gang” dinners (she went to very few of those). Most were village fetes in hamlets which have no mayor, or visiting and encouraging local charities and volunteer groups. She raised a shedload of money for local causes.

    Now every chair and mayor has their own focus, and I am not saying that my wife’s time as chair is a universal experience. truth is, she did not enjoy the dinners much, so avoided as many as she could!

    Expenses are (rightly) strictly controlled. However, when you visit three village fetes in an afternoon, you cannot visit and not have a go on stalls, join in the raffle etc. It’s part of the deal, and folks on this forum would be quick to criticise if a Chair was “Miserly” and did not join in. All that was out of her own pocket.

    Despite the allowance she got, I estimate that her year in office left us financially about £3.5K out of pocket. We do not begrudge it, but we were actually quite glad that she did not get re-elected because financially we could not have afforded a second year as chair. In fact, if we had understood what it meant I am not sure she would have done the one year she did.

    It’s easy to complain about councilor allowances, but the role expected of Chair is not cheap to do. And unless we want Chairs to be drawn only from the wealthy or the retired, allowances go a long way to open up the role to people from all walks of life and experiences. Even with the allowances, i would argue that the makeup of our local councils around Abingdon do not reflect well the wider population.

    On one area I would agree – having three tiers of council is not good. When my wife was chair and Duncan Brown was mayor they tended to coordinate things so they did not BOTH attend the same events. I have no idea whether the same cooperation between Town and Vale still takes place.

  • 20. Julian  |  March 20, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    On another note, I see Abingdon is to get a new coffee shop (where slot machines were at Lucky 777).
    Just what we need….

  • 21. Daniel  |  March 20, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Sounds a bit of a gamble Julian…

    DavidofLuton, thank you for a very clear summary of your wife’s experience. It has adjusted my opinion.

  • 22. davidofLuton  |  March 20, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks, Daniel. I ought to have added that the figures I gave above do not include loss of earnings during the year, as my wife delayed returning to work until her term as Chair came to an end.

  • 23. ppjs  |  March 20, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Good response, Daniel!

    David’s post was a helpful reminder of what happens behind the headlines.

  • 24. Daniel  |  March 20, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Thanks ppjs, I’m always happy to be told I’m wrong, or change my opinion as information comes in.

    Having said this, it doesn’t excuse gross salaries, or such ill decisions despite those salaries…

  • 25. Iain  |  March 20, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    I’m afraid I’m not convinced David. I take your point that ONE mayor needs an allowance, but not three, not all councillors and not nearly a million quid.

    I’d much rather we threw the money at keeping the children’s centres open, staffed by their many volunteers who don’t receive publicly funded allowances.

  • 26. davidofLuton  |  March 21, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Some of your points are fair, Iain, although i do not think it is an either/or choice between allowances and children’s centres. That is the sort of headline the Daily Mail loves, and I think we need to accept that Democracy has with it attendant costs, as does adequate children’s provision.

    However, I would find it hard to justify, say, the £1186 additional allowance given to the Vice-Chairman (not even chairman) of the Scrutiny committee, and as you say, paying for ceremonial officers at three tiers of local governmnet. My comments were simply about my wife’s experience as Chair of the Vale.

    Personally, I would like to see allowances more linked to attendance (a few Vale councillors have attended fewer than half the meetings they were expected at, One has attended only two out of an expected eight meetings) and allowances that permit people from all works of life to join the council strengthened at the expense of more general allowances. I am talking about childcare and carer’s allowances.

    But democracy costs, and we need to be careful not to turn local government into a plutocracy, where only the better off can afford to run for the council.

  • 27. Iain  |  March 22, 2017 at 8:40 am

    The points you make are fair David and maybe I’m slightly simplifying my argument for effect, but I don’t think most people realise how much money we collectively pay for this sort of thing.

    I completely agree with your points about child/parent care, etc but the reality is this applies to a small proportion of councillors and could easily be accommodated without resorting to a general allowance for all councillors.

    I know with your day job you work heavily with lots of voluntary groups, who by definition give their time up for free for the benefit of the community. I don’t notice a big class difference in the volunteer groups I’ve engaged with – do you find the same?

    I do therefore wonder what is so different about the role of a councillor that means we should compensate them in a way that other community organisations do not.

  • 28. Steven  |  March 22, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I normally agree with Iain, but this time he deliberately using misleading figures. His estimated figure of £827K is for the whole county, which has many towns (Oxford, Witney, Banbury, Henley, Wantage, Faringdon, Thame, etc…) all with their own children’s centers being closed. Based on population (36000 in Abingdon out of 666100 in the county), Abingdon is contributing aprox £44K towards councillor’s expenses (£1.22 per person per year), which would not be enough to keep a children’s center running for a year even if fully staffed by volunteers. And as DavidOfLuton says, the expenses do not actually cover the personal costs of performing the councillor rolls. I think some people are getting confused between the fairly small expenses of the elected councillors and the large salaries of the unelected employed council executives.

  • 29. Iain  |  March 22, 2017 at 10:39 am

    I wasn’t intending to mislead Steven, just to make a point and you are quite right that my figures are for the whole of OCC, but it is still a huge sum and could be dispersed to do much more good than it does.

    My point about the children’s centre holds though. The demand from OCC for rent from voluntary groups to run the South Abingdon Children’s centre is about £25k pa (last figures i heard were in Nov 16 so happy to be corrected). I assume the North Abingdon Centre is a similar figure so pretty close to your £44k estimate for our three county councillors.

    Easily affordable if you added in the £30-35k we give to Abingdon’s Vale Councillors and the c£18k we give to our town councillors.

  • 30. Captainkaos2  |  March 22, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Spot on Steven !

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