Bucks County Council must review children's services shake-up, after challenge from councillors

Buckinghamshire County Council

The decision to create a new Early Help service in Bucks has been ‘called-in’, suspending plans to close the county's children’s centres.

A week after cabinet members voted for changes to Children’s Services to go ahead, four Bucks County Councillors have contested the decision, forcing the council to step back and review the proposal once more.

When a decision is ‘called-in’, councillors suspend making an agreed change and, instead, consider the plans again.

The cabinet at Bucks County Council signed off switching to the 'Early Help' model on January 8, voting to replace the 35 existing children’s centres with nine hubs, seven of which will use existing children’s centre buildings. The council say the remaining 28 will be repurposed.

In calling in the decision, Cllr Julia Wassell, East Wycombe Independent, wrote: "I strongly believe that not all the relevant matters were taken into account in reaching the decision as a number of issues have since come to light."

Fellow East Wycombe Independent Cllr Chaudhary Ditta, and two Aylesbury Liberal Democrat Cllrs Niknam Hussain and Martin Farrow, backed up her challenge.

Speaking at a protest against the changes on January 6, Cllr Steven Lambert, who raised his concerns at Cabinet, said: “We’re deeply concerned at the decision papers that have been published.

“What the opposition groupings will be doing is calling in the decision because we think that it is deeply flawed.

“What that means is that we challenge the decision that’s been made, we have to put it in writing why we think the decision is flawed, we send that into the democratic services team and they check that against the constitution.”

More as this story develops

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