Children’s Centres in Abingdon could close

September 22, 2015

Children's Centres in Abingdon
Nicola Blackwood, local MP, is pictured here at South Abingdon Children’s Centre, in happier times.
Children's Centres in Abingdon
Oxfordshire County Council are soon to consult on the closure of most of the 44 Children’s Centres in Oxfordshire to save £8 million annually, cutting by half the amount they spend on children and family services. They will probably look to move all Abingdon area services to the early intervention hub on Stratton Way, and relabel it as a Family and Children Centre.

Children’s Centres have made a difference to parents as well as children, with parenting courses, and local support for families.

They are highly regarded for aiding child development pre-school.

They are a safe place to get help from the excellent staff who are known locally.

The consultation on these proposals will be in early October. The County Council sayLack of resources coupled with the dramatic increase in workloads arising from Child Protection and Children In Care means that the current operation of discretionary support and help based on universal provision is no longer tenable.”

I would have thought that given there has been a dramatic increase in Child Protection issues in Oxfordshire, now is not the time to cut the budget by half.

Filed under: community

21 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Margaret  |  September 23, 2015 at 6:56 am

    What a lovely Photograph of Nicola…I am sure she will do her utmost to keep the Centre open

  • 2. Janet  |  September 23, 2015 at 8:58 am

    I will say it again. We give 5 million a day to the EU and have increased our foreign aid spending. Central Government are cutting back the money they give to local councils to pay for this. The vulnerable and needy in the UK are suffering. The mayor of Calais said that immigrants are queueing in Calais to come to Britain because they have heard that we give generous benefits to them here. Our own citizens should come first but rarely do.

  • 3. Hester  |  September 23, 2015 at 10:11 am

    It would be great to get Nicola – and the other Oxfordshire MPs (including of course DC) – on side on this one. The County Council’s defence is that they have had swingeing budget cuts so have to make “difficult decisions” – but who makes those budge cuts? Answer of course is “their” government, so surely campaigners should be holding the MPs to account?
    Also, contrary to what the County Council say, there is extensive evidence that “Early Intervention” of the kind that Children’s Centres provide does have long-term benefits and therefore leads to savings later on.
    Finally, re Janet’s point – it is not just AID that the government spends our money on overseas – lots goes to much less worthy causes – perhaps there could be some savings there!

  • 4. andy  |  September 23, 2015 at 11:24 am

    So we have multi-millions for new Oxfordshire diamond junctions, and a rash of dubious hamburger roundabouts but children’s services and recycling centres are under threat. Yes, I know it’s a different ‘pot’ of money, but the fact remains…

  • 5. Janet  |  September 23, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    I have been corrected. The UK’s contributions to the E U are 55 million a day!!

  • 6. Daniel  |  September 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Goodness Janet, that would almost cover OCCs salary bill!

  • 7. ppjs  |  September 23, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Charity does not begin at home; self interest does. Charity begins when we forget our own needs for the health and safety of others.

    Charity does not exclude the proper care of those at home; it just remembers that some have no home.

  • 8. Iain  |  September 23, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Well said paul – it’s not an either or

  • 9. Daniel  |  September 23, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Just asking; what is wrong with self interest? It is made out to be a bad thing.

    We can’t care about everyone, so isn’t it entirely OK to worry most about your nearest and dearest?

  • 10. Iain  |  September 24, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Whilst it’s a bit early for philosophy I’ll offer a view.

    There’s nothing wrong with self interest and most of us, not necessarily consciously but perfectly naturally, spend most of our time acting to further the interests of ourselves and those who are close to us. This would include ourselves, our families, our friends and neighbours.

    I think Paul’s point is that it is also good for society that we also find ways where we can, at least ocassionally, act in a way that betters the situation of those where there is no direct self interest. In effect those who are out of sight and out of mind. This is typically where government aid, charity and volunteering tend to play a part.

    There is a philosophical argument about whether altruism is actually self interest anyway as generally it makes you feel a bit better that you’re doing something. There is also a clear argument that not seeing poverty around you is in your self interest anyway. But I guess we’re getting a bit academic now.

  • 11. Janet  |  September 24, 2015 at 9:03 am

    In Abingdon the remains of a vulnerable young man who had his benefits cut and subsequently starved to death are buried. There was no great outcry in Abingdon about this. A woman is seeking justice for her brother, an ill type 2 diabetic who had his benefits cut and died having no food and electricity. This seems perfectly acceptable to some that services are being cut to our own vulnerable and poor. There is no great outcry and campaign to house our own homeless. In fact in some cases asylum seekers are given preference over the UK’s homeless. M P’s want to look big on the international scene and fling UK taxpayers money abroad. Look after our own first.

  • 12. Janet  |  September 24, 2015 at 9:18 am

    In the Oxford Mail it was reported that 10 refugee families are to be housed in Oxford jumping the over 1000 families waiting for social housing already.

  • 13. Iain  |  September 24, 2015 at 11:44 am

    We should be doing both Jant – it’s not the simple either / or answer that you suggest.

    My understanding is that the housing of refugees from the current crisis is being paid for from the foreign aid budget you are anxious to cut, and therefore doesn’t affect the ability of councils to pay for existing social housing for the current queue.

    There are plenty of other areas of government and local authority spending which can be targeted if they really wanted to attack this. For a start they could remove the totally unnecessary layer of disctrict councils as was proposed by the county council last year which I seem to remember had a cost saving of £30m associated with it.

  • 14. Spike S  |  September 24, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Ever expanding Charity (wherever it is directed) is only masking the fundamental problem thay few seem to be addressing. The World is a finite resource so, how is the mantra of continuous ‘Growth’ ever going to end in anything other than misery/disease/poverty for increasing numbers ? There are just too many people in the World (now !). If the Third World’s population growth is not matched by their own ability to self-sustain, it can only get worse.

    Abingdon’s traffic problems and the streams of migrants from the Middle-East’s equivalent of our own past Civil Wars are merely a symptom of a wider picture.

    But the roundabout flowers have been lovely !

  • 15. ppjs  |  September 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Governements are not charitibale institutions – and aid budgets are not driven by sentimentality. Overseas aid is a matter of polciy. Fifty years ago, the Brandt Report showed how it was in the interest of the richer nations to help the poorer, developing wolrd. When he gap between rich and poor is narrowed, the frustration and anger of disproportion is minimized. When everyone has enough purchasing power, then trade increases.

    It is in our national self-interest to offer aid to those in extreme need. And successive government have understood that aid budgets are actually economic development budgets. The money is an investment in the world’s future.

    Charity begins with the recognition that “there but for the grace of God, go I” – the ability to see that I am fortunate not to be in the plight of the homeless (at home and overseas). it moves us to live more simply that others may simply live.

    How anyone on this listing responds to the demands of self-interest and charity is their decision. However, in the realm of global politics, we need policy – and that means making very hard choices. Sometimes, those choices will disadvantage us for a while. the question is whether we have the stamina to cope.

  • 16. ppjs  |  September 24, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Sorry about the typos – I forgot to check properly. Will try harder in future!

  • 17. Cassandra  |  September 24, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Whilst I take your point @15, I think it should be recognised that Western Europe alone cannot logistically cope with the problems of the wider world. Nor should it be their sole responsibility.
    One wonders what the other large nations are doing to help, particularly in the current crisis and/or resulting diaspora.
    Russia or China for example? We read that the Indian subcontinent has a burgeoning economy, and the Gulf State nations are very rich also. Have they yet indicated that they will help?

  • 18. ppjs  |  September 24, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I agree that others ought to share the burden. But if we want to set a lead, it’s best if we do good rather than nothing.

  • 19. Rachel  |  September 25, 2015 at 12:03 am

    OCC pays people to do things that don’t need doing. My particular bugbear is the amount of money spent monitoring home educating families on an annual basis which the council has no duty to do and no legal right to do either.

    Passing those salaries to the running of Children’s Centres would help more people but councils don’t think like that.

  • 20. Black Flag  |  September 29, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Let’s hope our MP Nicola shows her mettle with this issue whilst there is still time to make a difference.

    Abingdon staff and Abingdon families stand to be very seriously affected if these cuts go ahead.

    Locals are watching in anticipation, Nicola.

  • 21. Neil Fawcett  |  September 29, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    There are two principle causes of the proposed closure of Children’s Centres, and neither of them are the 10 refugees we may need to find homes for in the area:

    1 The Government’s decision to make disproportionately large cuts to local government funding in its efforts to reduce the deficit. If Nicola Blackwood, David Cameron and other Tory MPs genuinly want to stop cuts like these they have the power in their hands to do so;

    2 The approach the Conservative run County Council is taking to delivering the cuts in its funding. They are going for closing centres and streamlining services. My view is that they should aim to keep as many centres open as possible even if that means some of the services delivered at the centres are cut in the short term, and then try and find other sources of income or providers of services to make use of the centres. (This is the approach I took to the libraries when there was a proposal to close lots of them about 15 years ago. I argued that it was better to keep the libraries in place but temporarily reduce the level of service with a view to later expansion as resources allowed. That is what then happened.)

    I feel very strongly about this having helped get the package together that got the current South Abingdon Children’s Centre built.

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