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Children's services boss faces grilling over planned cuts
THE boss of Southampton children’s services faces a grilling over the huge cuts she is proposing to make to the service.
Councillor Sarah Bogle will be summoned before the council’s powerful scrutiny committee next month to explain her plans to slash £7m from her department.
Up to 126 posts are under threat and the city’s youth service will be shut down as the Labour-run council looks to cut £20m from its annual budget in the deepest cuts ever proposed in the city.
Committee chairman councillor Jeremy Moulton said he wanted to go over the cuts to frontline services with a “fine-tooth comb” and get answers on what alternatives will be put in place.
“Despite asking for a preventative strategy for a long time I was never given one by officers and Cllr Bogle is taking huge amounts of money out of these services blindly,” he said. “It is very worrying.”
Cllr Moulton, the Tory’s children’s services spokesman, said he would be writing to all the affected groups to set up meetings to discuss the impact of the cuts. He said Cllr Bogle should be doing likewise.
Anger has been growing among residents, service users and city organisations as the scale of the proposed cuts becomes clear. The final budget will be agreed in February.
Among the proposals the youth service is being axed with the possible closure of eight youth clubs and three adventure playgrounds and more than 30 youth and play workers face redundancy. The council’s residential children’s unit for traumatised youngsters, Our House, has been earmarked for closure.
And the budget for the city’s Sure Start children’s centres will also be cut by around £1m a year.
Around 25 different organisations, mostly charities, who receive money from the council to deliver children’s services face drastic funding cuts to save £1m next year, rising to £1.6m in three years time.
They include local organisations like Rose Road, Hants and IOW Youth Option, SVS and the Weston Church Youth Project, national charities such as Barnardos, The Prince’s Trust and YMCA, who all have local bases in the city.
Senior management jobs across the department will also be axed and schools across the city are now being asked to help payback the costs of a revamp of three secondaries under contracts agreed nearly ten years ago. Cllr Bogle, who said the proposed cuts prioritised the council’s limited resources fairly, will appear before the scrutiny committee on December 13.