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Cabinet agrees to close Jonathan Page play centre as opposition leader slams ‘pernicious’ proposal

View - The Jonathan Page Play Centre at Quarrendon and Meadowcroft Community Centre in Aylesbury

View - The Jonathan Page Play Centre at Quarrendon and Meadowcroft Community Centre in Aylesbury

Council leaders have agreed in principle to effectively shut down the Jonathan Page Play Centre in Aylesbury.

Aylesbury Vale District Council says a review of the play scheme provided at the Meadowcroft-based centre concluded that it is financially unviable.

The service has costs of £157,000 but only makes an income of £98,000.

The proposal to withdraw funding was approved by the council’s Conservative cabinet last night and comes as the authority looks to make £2.4 million in savings in 2014/15 following a reduction in the grant it gets from government.

The plan still needs to be approved by full council and the opposition Lib Dem leader Steven Lambert vowed to fight the proposals.

He said on Twitter: “Closing Johnathan Page Centre most pernicious thing I’ve seen & will fight them every step of way.”

Parents at last night’s cabinet meeting also pleaded with politicians not to withdraw funding.

They were told that it is possible the centre could stay open if another provider can be found to run it.

The number of users of the after-school club has declined by 30% from 4,927 in 2009/10 to 3,256 in 2012/13.

Numbers attending the holiday play scheme are also down 10% to 2,930.

Councillor Howard Mordue, cabinet member for leisure, said: “This has been a very difficult decision because we are conscious that families value the service provided by the Jonathan Page Play Centre.

“Unfortunately, current financial pressures mean it is no longer financially viable for the council to continue to fund the after school club and holiday playscheme run at the centre.

“I would be very pleased to see the service continue, organised by others, and would consider any business case put forward.

“Parents or guardians of children using the centre will be reassured to know that the service will continue to run as it does currently, until at least the end of the summer school term 2014.

“We will continue to offer the best possible service whilst we investigate future options for the centre and the staff.”

The council says it will now look for ways of offering an alternative more cost effective way of providing a play service in the future.

The service will continue to run as it does currently, until at least the end of the summer school term in 2014.

The Jonathan Page Play Centre, which is managed by AVDC, was opened in 2000 as part of the new Quarrendon and Meadowcroft Community Centre complex.

The after-school club runs Monday to Friday from 3.15pm to 6pm with collection services from the Thomas Hickman, Turnfurlong and Buckingham Park schools. Activities enjoyed by children include crafts, sports, music and go-karting.

The centre currently employs five staff. There may be other opportunities to redeploy these staff, which will be detailed in a subsequent report to cabinet.

 

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