Oxford

Changes to Oxfordshire children's centre plans dismissed by campaigners

Children's centre protests Image copyright Desmond Brambley
Image caption The Save Oxfordshire Children's Centres Campaigners held a protest in November

Changes to plans to cut Oxfordshire children's centres have been dismissed as "a few crumbs" by campaigners.

The council had proposed closing all 44 centres and replacing them with eight new facilities in a bid to save £8m.

Following a consultation, it has now said it will keep some "universal" services and fund child care at 11 of the centres until 2017.

But Jill Huish, who is campaigning to save the centres, said the changes did not go nearly far enough.

She said: "They have suggested taking millions of pounds away and now they are throwing a few crumbs back to appease us.

"There was a huge response to the consultation, and I'm sure that's because most people wanted to save the centres. I think it would be really sad if this is all they do as a result."

'Truly sorry'

Following the consultation, which received 2,700 responses, the council said the new centres would now offer some "universal" services.

These include a bus service, preventative services and some open access sessions.

Melinda Tilley, cabinet member for children, education and families, said she was "truly sorry" to have to make the cuts.

She added: "What we are proposing is the safest possible system that protects vulnerable families."

A spokesman added that the council is discussing with communities new ways to fund services in the future.

On Tuesday it was revealed that David Cameron's mother Mary has signed a petition against the cuts.

Members of the Unite union employed in early intervention at the council will stage a 24-hour strike on 16 February in protest at the plans.

The prime minister previously wrote to the local authority expressing "disappointment" at planned cuts to museums, libraries and day centres for the elderly.

But council leader Mr Hudspeth said the cuts were the result of reductions in funding from central government.

The local authority's cabinet will vote on the proposals on 23 February.

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