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Alan Rankin's speech to Wiltshire Council

May 23, 2018 9:00 AM

Alan Rankin Wiltshire Council speechPotterne resident and local campaigner Alan Rankin spoke out in support of the campaign to save Oxenwood and Braeside at the full Council meeting of Wiltshire Council on 22 May 2018. To view Alan's speech visit this link, or a transcript is avaliable below.

A recent National Audit Office report on the financial sustainability of Local Authorities describes the financial background in which Wiltshire Council is making difficult decisions. A background of a real-terms reduction of government funding and increasing statutory service demands and inflationary pressures.

A response has been to look at how expenditure on non-statutoryservices can be cut to protect statutory service budgets.

The cost of a non-statutory serviceis relatively straight forward to assess: costsover a period of time and what value is extracted from the service such as HR, payroll and IT service charges.

The value created and the benefit to Wiltshire residents and society in general is relatively more complicated to assess but has established calculation protocols used by The Office of National Statistics and Her Majesty's Treasury.

Help in calculating the value created by outdoor education services is available from several academic and research institutions.

The Impact assessment documents provided so far by Wiltshire Council fall far short of a meaningful value calculation and fail to adequately inform councillors how the difficult decision to close Braeside and Oxenwood was justifiably made.

In Wiltshire we have pockets of relatively poor families who would be disproportionately disadvantagedby the closure of Braeside and Oxenwood.

The centres themselves are uniquely situated and take full advantage of the historical and geographical environments in which they exist.

Extracting as much value as possible from Braeside and Oxenwood overlooks the ongoing value created by these centres attested to by the testimony of many here today and nearly 16,000 petitioners.

Greater thought using recognised scientific criteria needs to be applied to this decision rather than relying on an inadequate proform a 18 month review.

A short term decision to favour the immediate needs of the purse, may have expensive detrimental effects on statutory services and the future happiness and well-being of the people of Wiltshire.

Wiltshire Council, where everybody matters, needs to take the necessary time, care and expertise to thoroughly review the decision to close Braeside and Oxenwood.