For full council on 15 Feb 2017 at 19:30.
Liberal Democrat motion to amend the budget: proposed by Cllr Judy Roberts, seconded by Cllr Emily Smith
This council recognises the valuable work carried out the Children’s Centres across the Vale and is deeply concerned about the impact on local families and our communities when the County Council ceases provision of universal children’s services on 1st March 2017. The children’s centres in Botley, Abingdon, Grove & The Hanneys, Faringdon, Southmoor and Wantage provide essential well-being services to children under 5 and their families.
This council also recognises the significant efforts of parents and community groups working to find alternative ways of providing universal services for our families and the financial challenges involved. Their hard work for a good cause underlines how they feel about the value of these services.
This council is in a position to help fund the set-up costs for these projects in the coming year, via our grants scheme. Therefore, the budget for 2017/18 will include a grant fund of £100,000 for groups to apply for and £3,000 to pay for officer time to administer these grants following the same procedure as the New Homes Bonus and Community Capital Funds.
The Head of Finance has confirmed that these costs are sustainable within the 2017/18 budget.
Vale’s Corporate Plan for 2016 – 2020 outlines council’s aims, which include:
• Supporting community groups and community events through our grant scheme.
• Assisting voluntary and community groups that provide important services to residents, to attract volunteers.
• Working with partners as part of the South and Vale Community Safety Partnership to deliver the annual plan aimed at reducing crime, tackling antisocial behaviour and supporting vulnerable people.
These Vale corporate objectives are met by the successful early intervention services that Children’s Centres provide.
We’ve heard the argument that children’s centres are county’s business, not district’s. Clearly county can’t afford the children’s centres any longer, so many centres are working to find their own ways of being viable and self-sustaining. It’s exactly the sort of not-for-profit organisation our grants schemes support. Once we have transformed our local government into a unitary authority, this sort of service provision will be very much in our remit. In the meantime, we are able to help, and we should.
Recent developments, please note:
• Members of Abingdon Town Council agreed unanimously to raise their precept in order to place £30,000 per year for three years into a reserve fund, to be paid out to South Abingdon Children’s Centre, subject to certain conditions being met.
• Cumnor Parish Council have donated £5000 to their local Children’s Centre.
• Wantage Town Council donated £10,000 per annum for three years to a newly formed group to manage local children’s centre services.