Banbury residents to travel for Oxfordshire children’s centres consultation

Families and users of children's centres in Oxfordshire protest outside Oxfordshire County Council on Tuesday in response to drastic changes to the provision of children's centres and early intervention services in the county. Picture by Jill Huish. NNL-150909-105729001
Families and users of children's centres in Oxfordshire protest outside Oxfordshire County Council on Tuesday in response to drastic changes to the provision of children's centres and early intervention services in the county. Picture by Jill Huish. NNL-150909-105729001

Banbury residents wanting to discuss proposals about Oxfordshire County Council’s new models for children’s services will need to travel out of the town.

The council will hold three public meetings next month, with the first one in Oxford on Wednesday, November 18 and another one scheduled at Didcot Civic Centre on Monday, November 23. The meeting in Bicester will be at the John Paul II Centre in Causeway on Monday, November 30 from 6pm-7.30pm.

The county council said their decision for the three locations cover the north, south and central parts of the county and added other meetings to discuss the Budget and children’s centres will be held in Banbury towards the end of the month and into early November.

The council’s cabinet decided at its September meeting to put three options out for consultation. The focus in the options is on protecting the most vulnerable children from abuse and neglect.

The council’s preferred option is to create a brand new service for 0-19-year-olds, with a network of eight Children and Family Centres at various locations with the full focus on the most vulnerable.

The council would cease to provide/commission universal services such as stay and play or open access youth sessions.

There would be fewer buildings but it is important to note that these centres would be the base for significant outreach work to all Oxfordshire communities.

Suggested locations for the Children and Family Centres would be Banbury, Bicester, Witney, Abingdon and Didcot with three centres in Oxford.

Option two would have eight centres. However the council would continue to provide or commission limited universal services. The resource to do this would come from an increase in caseloads within the Family Support Service and a reduction in the amount of outreach provided by the Family Support Service.

The final option would only have six centres. This would release £1 million per year for grant funding to the voluntary and community sector to deliver services for families across Oxfordshire.

The consultation questionnaire is available to complete online at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consultation

Paper copies will be available at all Children’s Centres and Early Intervention Hubs, as well as at other council buildings including libraries.

People will be able to give their views until Sunday, January 10 2016.