Oxford

Controversial cuts to elderly and children's services in Oxford abandoned

Cuts demonstration
Image caption Protesters had gathered outside County Hall where the meeting took place

Controversial cuts to elderly and children's services in Oxford have been abandoned after opposing councillors reached a last-minute deal.

Around 200 people, including David Cameron's aunt, had gathered outside County Hall to protest Oxfordshire County Council budget for 2016-17.

Elderly day centres and children's centres had been in line for £2m cuts under the plans.

Members voted in favour of an amended budget.

The decision came after a private meeting between the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat groups.

Councillors voted 60 in favour and two against the new budget.

Political reporter Bethan Philips said: "In the previous budget they said they had £11m still to find, but now they are saying they have £15m to find.

"They may have just kicked the decision down the road."

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Image caption Clare Currie said she had written to the PM, her nephew, objecting to the cuts

At the protest before the meeting Clare Currie, the prime minister's aunt, called the services, including children's centres, "really vital for people's wellbeing".

She said she had written to the prime minister about her opposition to the cuts.

She added: "I think if they're cut an awful lot of families and old people and homeless… their lives will be diminished.

"[David Cameron] is against the children's centres cutting... it's central government who are cutting the money and I think they're making a great error."

The county council has said it has been forced to find £361m in savings between 2010 and 2020.

Members of the Unite union employed in early intervention at the council are currently staging a 24-hour strike in protest at the plans.

Dave Ricketts, who works at the Abingdon early intervention hub, said: "It's going to be pretty depressing for people to go out there every day committed to working with our families and young people, and feeling that energy to do a good job knowing the cloud of redundancy is hanging over them, so it's pretty dire."

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