‘Tell us where to cut services’ says council

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council NNL-150119-124630001
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council NNL-150119-124630001

Budget cuts will be hitting residents across Oxon for the sixth year running as the county council faces having to make savings of up to £50 million over the next four years in a ‘worst case scenario’.

On Tuesday, Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) launched a public consultation, asking residents to say where they think cuts should be made ahead of finalising its budget for the 2016/2017 financial year.

More than 90 savings options across council services including adult social care, children, education and families and corporate services are being considered although services linked to child protection are not included in the proposed cuts.

The council hopes where funding for services has to be withdrawn or reduced, community support will keep those services in operation.

OCC leader, Ian Hudspeth, said: “The council will have to make some difficult decisions about local services but in Oxfordshire we have already seen communities willing and able to take over where funding has been reduced.

“The saving we have to make from 2016 to 2020 could be as much as £50m. However the council regards this figure as a ‘worst case scenario’ which leaves time to find ways to minimise the impact on frontline services, including helping communities take over valued local services.”

Among the cuts being considered are:

> Saving £3.4 million by no longer budgeting for a predicted future increase in demand for social care.

> Saving £3.1 million by reviewing funding allocations to meet individual care needs.

> Cease funding day services provided by the voluntary and community sector, which could save £3 million.

> Stop funding the seven health and wellbeing centres funded by the council and one provided by the Leonard Cheshire Trust, making a saving of £2,050,000.

> Merging the early intervention hubs and children’s centres, saving £2 million.

> Making £1 million in savings from the library service including getting rid of mobile libraries.

> Saving £291,000 by reducing its grass cutting and tree maintenance service to safety areas only.

> Scrap electronic displays at bus stops which provides information on when buses are due, saving £140,000.

> Cease funding of arts grants, saving £92,000.

> Removing the second on-call fire engine from Chipping Norton Fire Station, saving £48,000.

Cllr Hudspeth added the council needed to save money from other services to fund vital services for the vulnerable.

He said: “We have a legal and moral duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society. I want to make sure that people who can’t help themselves are looked after and I’m sure most people feel the same. In particular we are thinking about children at risk of abuse and neglect and adults who need help with washing, dressing, eating and other personal care.

A public meeting will be held on November 2, in Banbury Town Hall, between 7pm and 8.30pm to allow people to have their say. People need to register in advance.

To take part in the consultation or register, visit www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/talkingoxfordshire. Copies of the budget consultation will be available in libraries. The consultation ends on November 30. OCC is due to agree the budget on February 16 next year.