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COMMENT: Could a hefty rise in council tax be a way of saving centres?
10:20am Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in News
PRIME Minister David Cameron has already been given a clear indication that residents in Oxfordshire will not allow their children’s centres to close without a fight.
Parents from across the county have spoken up to spell out how the centres now provide a lifeline for families, including those who are struggling to cope.
Families in Chipping Norton have already lobbied the Conservative Prime Minister over the issue, and the Witney MP has now pledged to meet Ian Hudspeth, leader of the Tory-run county council, to discuss the issue in greater detail.
There is not a bottomless pit of Government money for local authorities, and the county council is being forced to make millions of pounds worth of cuts so it is only right residents get plenty of opportunity to say what they think should be saved.
We are not making a party-political point when we say that when Mr Cameron meets people in his constituency, including Mr Hudspeth, he will start to understand how the closure of children’s centres will directly affect people around the county.
Mr Hudspeth will be well within his rights to tell Mr Cameron that the county council is caught between a rock and a hard place and that it cannot possibly save all the children’s centres, unless it receives sufficient Government grant funding.
Now is the time for centre users to shout loudly because if they say nothing they will lose them.
Chancellor George Osborne’s settlement for the county council leaves it needing to find an additional £61m by 2018, on top of the £74m of cuts it has already earmarked.
Now the Prime Minister, as a constituency MP, is seeing the result of his own Chancellor’s determination to cut the national deficit.
It seems unlikely, but is a substantial increase in council tax one option facing the county council?
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