Mums, children and councillors gathered at Banbury’s band stand in High Street this morning (Saturday) to protest over Oxfordshire County Council’s proposals to cut funding from Banbury children’s centres from next year.
Mum Jill Huish organised the protest with banners, leaflets, T-shirts and a petition calling on the council to reconsider its plans which are designed to help it make savings in line with an expected £61 million cut in its government grant.
Labour County Councillor Mike Beale addressed bystanders calling on them to sign the petition against the cuts.
Miss Huish told the Banbury Guardian: “We’re hoping to educate the people of Banbury about what children’s centres actually do.
“They provide the Freedom Project which helps women who have just got out of abusive relationships, they give speech therapy classes for children
“They also do social services referrals which are vital for 0-5 year-olds.
“If there’s only one centre left it would only be for people in a crisis and most people would never fall into that criteria.”
The council has announced it is likely to dramatically cut children’s centre provision across the county which currently has 44 establishments.
No decision has yet been made on how many of the five Banbury centres will keep their funding but the Banbury Guardian has seen one proposals which suggests just one centre could remain funded
Addressing the crowd councillor Mike Beale added: “Once children’s centres close it’s very very hard for them to come back.
“It’s vital that we support public services against this onslaught this government is imposing against us.
“However Conservative councillor Tony Ilott took a different view saying: “It’s quite ironic that we have Labour councillors here.
“The only reason the county council are having t to make cuts is because of the mess the Labour government left us in.
“I think it’s a bit rich them bleating on about it now.
He added: “No-one comes up with any suggestions of how the money can be saved.”
The council’s budget proposals will be published in December and approved in February next year.