I as many others in my town are in utter despair over the potential closure of Oxfordshire children’s centres.
My local children’s centre in Carterton is my lifeline.
I have two children and have used the centre for the past seven years – and I can honestly say I could not have survived without it.
It helps and supports with every aspect of being a parent, from feeding advice to helping with behavioural issues to how to cook simple low cost meals.
We attend at least twice a week and it’s my only place where I feel safe and secure.
I have had seven years in extreme circumstances – abuse, massive finance problems, dealing with loss and bereavement and potentially losing my home.
The centre has been there for me and my children every step of the way. It has helped me laugh again and my children to be happy.
Thankfully I’m through the other side and extremely happy now, but I still need support and my children need a safe place to go.
I am petrified to what will happen to us when the centre closes.
Through the centre I have made so many friends. I still have a lot of confidence issues and still need the centre to maintain friendships for me and my children.
I know so many families that rely on the centre everyday. Our RAF families use it and it helps deal with emotions of parents away on detachment or welcomes new families to the town. Where will they go?
I could sit and write for hours about what the centre provides but instead I ask that people please come visit, come and chat to the mums and dads and children.
Take time to see what impact it has for us and what would happen when it’s taken away.
Most of all please help to support us.
There will be petitions, walks, parades etc – we know we are probably fighting a losing battle, but how sad would life be if we did not stand up and fight for something we are so passionate about.
At Monday’s Talking Oxfordshire meeting in Banbury, Ian Hudspeth Conservative Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, claimed he had made “representations to Central Government” about the new round of cuts.
He refused to share the nature of these representations with the public but after the meeting acknowledged he has not made any formal representation to complain the new round of cuts goes too far. He has had informal conversation with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and his “own MP”, the Prime Minister, David Cameron.
If he disagreed with these cuts he would make strong written representation, which he would share with the public.
He has not done so.
Almost the whole of Monday’s consultation focused on the “coincidental” announcement of proposals to slash children’s centres in the county from 43 to five.
So it seems that, in the absence of any public representation to the Government, we have a Conservative-led county council vigourously pursuing the Conservative-led Government’s policy of making the weak, vulnerable and disenfranchised pay for the problems the country faces.
That this is taking place in the Prime Minister’s own county, one of the richest in the country, is shameful.
That the Leader of the council neither publicly acknowledges nor denies his enthusiasm for this process seems wholly disingenuous.
Monday night’s Talking Oxfordshire public meeting at Banbury Town Hall was filled to capacity with people desperate to voice concerns about proposed cuts to our public services by the county council.
I attended to represent the 1,100-plus members of the Oxon School Bus Action Group, but I was also emphatically not going to be fighting our corner against others representing vulnerable groups such as children’s centres or elderly care and I made this point in the meeting to Council Leader Ian Hudspeth.
He opened the meeting by asking us to consider what services we could live without and in doing so, has created a false competition between the most vulnerable in our communities.
Our group exists because enough people believe that cuts to school bus services are wrong because they threaten the safety of children, make a mockery of the council’s own schools admissions policies, are damaging to the environment and have a disproportionately negative effect on children from rural communities.
That is not to say many of us do not also believe in the importance of other services for example, the crucial role that children’s centres play in supporting children and parents when they are at their most vulnerable.
The reality is harsh.
The council has a £60m black hole in its finances over the next four years, but let us stand together to fight the assumption that cuts to services for children or the elderly are the only solution.
Don’t let the council leadership ‘divide and rule’.
Let’s challenge them instead to find other ways out of this mess, such as finding the missing millions tied up in Icelandic banks or perhaps even dipping into the estimated £300m council reserves.
Campaign Coordinator, Oxon School Bus Action Group
I have been in contact with the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) asking what the reasons were for three surgeons at the Horton being removed. Their reply was that one withdrew from clinical practice, one felt unable to continue with emergency surgery and one was subject to internal review not related to clinical practice.
Make of this what you will.
Kenilworth Way Banbury
ENRYCH (Oxfordshire) – Formerly Ryder Cheshire Volunteers – raised £180 at Castle Quay Shopping Centre in Banbury on September 19.
Thank you to Ruth Eames, Ian Cooper and Sandra Ives, for their time collecting and the shoppers for their generosity.
The money will help support local people with physical disabilities, to enjoy a hobby or interest with a dedicated volunteer.
Volunteer trustee and fundraiser
I am writing to record the Samaritans’ thanks to all those who supported the recent concert by the Brackley Male Voice Choir at St John’s Church. It was a really good evening.
The choir sang wonderfully in a beautiful building. We were very pleased to welcome the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Woodcock and his partner and we believe that everyone enjoyed themselves greatly.
We were also very grateful to the advertisers who took space in the programme and all those who attended.
We took about £400, which will be used to maintain and develop the Samaritans’ work, providing confidential and non-judgmental support to those in need and distress, including those experiencing feelings that might lead to suicide, in the local area and further afield.
We are very grateful.
The Brackley Male Voice Choir’s website (ww.brackleymalevoicechoir.org.uk) contains details of their future concerts, starting on Remembrance Sunday.
Catch them if you can.
Management committee chairman, Banbury & District Samaritans