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Campaign fights plans to merge children's centres

A campaign is underway in Hampshire to prevent the closure of dozens of children's centres. Plans currently being debated would mean 54 being reduced to just 11.

Sure start centres in the New Forest, Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Winchester and the Test Valley are under threat.

Leading the fight is Catherine Ovenden who says her centre played a vital role when she was a new mum. Richard Jones reports.

Plans to merge children's services in Hampshire

Hampshire County Council is trying to save £98m Credit: ITV Meridian

A ten-week public consultation has started on plans to merge all children's services in Hampshire as the council tries to plug a £98m funding shortfall.

Under the scheme, fifty four centres would be reduced to eleven and 60% of staff would lose their jobs.

The council says the move would save eight point five million.

But campaigners who fought to keep the centres open when they were under threat in 2011 plan to protest

ITV Meridian spoke to Deputy Leader of the county council, Keith Mans.


Southampton councillors to try and balance budget

Southampton City Council needs to save £98m by April 2017 Credit: ITV Meridian

Councillors in Hampshire are due to consider how to balance the county council's budget later.

Its leader says it's facing its most "challenging period" - after forty eight million pounds was cut from the authority's government funding.

Campaigners protest over plans to cut £98m from Southampton's budget Credit: ITV Meridian

"We are facing the most challenging period of the prolonged national austerity measures. In Hampshire, this means having to deliver savings of £98 million by April 2017, rising to a further £140 million of savings by 2019/20."

"We have a strong reputation for careful financial planning, which has delivered £240 million of savings since 2008, but it's clear that having lost so much of our Government grant, future savings will become even harder to find.

"Our approach to date, has focused on running the County Council more efficiently by reducing the cost of back office functions; using savings to help protect front line services; and prudently using some reserves to manage the costs of change.

"We are proposing to continue applying these principles in the years ahead, as well as considering an increase in council tax for the first time in six years - an approach which was supported by the majority of people who fed back to us during our summer consultation.

"This option is being put forward because of the blow we received before Christmas when Government announced more drastic cuts to the local authority funding formula, which impact particularly badly on County Councils. This translates into a further £15 million gap in our budget by 2017/18 - and that's taking into account the amount we could receive if we put up council tax by just under 4% each year, in line with the Government's expectations. "The percentage includes 2% to help specifically fund adult social care - even though this only provides £10 million against anticipated costs of £35 million in adult social care, next year."

– County Council Leader, Councillor Roy Perry

Hampshire County Council backs HIV Testing Week

Hampshire County Council is backing this week's HIV Testing Week in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of being tested, encourage HIV tests, especially amongst those most at risk, and increase the number of early diagnoses.

Over 100,000 people in the UK are living with HIV. Of these it is estimated that 1 in 5 do not know they have the infection and are at increased risk of passing the virus onto others.

Early diagnosis of HIV, timely treatment and support can mean a near-normal life span and better long term health outcomes.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said:

Although nationally the proportion of people being diagnosed late has reduced slightly we are hoping this campaign will further encourage those most at risk to get an HIV test.

In Hampshire, not only can people get an HIV test at their local sexual health clinic but they can also access Solent NHS Trust’s Quick Check service which is available at a number of community venues across Hampshire.

– Liz Fairhurst

For information on HIV testing in Hampshire visit HIV Lives website.

Armistice Day: Hampshire County Council remembers

Dozens of staff at Hampshire County Council have paid their respects to the fallen on Armistice Day. They gathered at the war memorial next to the Great Hall in Winchester before carrying out a two minute silence.

Among those paying tribute was Lieutenant Commander Keith Whitehead RD RNR, who has been a member of the Royal Navy Reserve for 29 years, and also a Chartered Building Surveyor working within Hampshire Property Services.

Lieutenant Commander Keith Whitehead RD RNR who works for Hampshire Property Services Credit: Hampshire County Council

“I wear a poppy badge all year to act as a constant remembrance to others and myself of the ultimate sacrifice made by servicemen and women over the years. In particular I want to remember the sacrifice made by my Great Uncle who was a member of the Hampshire Regiment (TA) and who died as a prisoner of war in 1917 while serving in Mesopotamia now known as Iraq.”

– Lieutenant Commander Keith Whitehead RD RNR


Flood clear up in Hampshire thought to cost £68 million

Basingstoke was one of Hampshire's worst hit areas Credit: ITV News

Hampshire County Council will today receive a report into the recent flooding.

It lists Basingstoke as one of the county's worst hit areas for the high levels of groundwater mixing with sewage which seeped into people's homes.

Some people still haven't been able to return.

The cost of dealing with the floods is estimated at £68 million.

Hampshire resources ready for New Year floods

Hampshire County Council has extra resources ready to respond to the further wet weather and strong winds that are forecast.

The number of highways emergency crews have been increased and tankers are ready to deal with water on the roads.

n the last week highways teams have responded to more than 1,300 incidents of fallen trees and flooded roads across Hampshire’s highway network.

The length of which equates to travelling from Lands End to John O’Groats and back three and a half times.

The County Council's Emergency Planning Team is also prepared and on standby, to support the emergency services and to assist those who need help with emergency situations that may arise as a consequence of the heavy rainfall.

We are in a good position to deal with any issues arising from the predicted wet and windy weather over the New Year. Our teams have given up their Christmas breaks and have been working flat out over the last week to keep Hampshire moving, for which I cannot thank them enough. It is anticipated they will be busy on New Years Day and beyond clearing up after this next bout of bad weather. Our maintenance teams are likely to be very stretched and it will be necessary to prioritise locations."

– Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council

Council help families keep healthy resolutions

A scheme to help families to live healthy lives is starting for five to 13-year-olds across Hampshire from January.

The MEND programme (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it!) provides ten weeks of interactive fun sessions to promote healthy lifestyles and address overweight issues.

The programme was commissioned to help children enjoy active play sessions as well as learn with their family about healthy food choices.

Parents are invited to change family behaviours such as reducing the amount of time watching TV and setting positive goals.

Gosport mum Rachel Fisk said the programme helped her and her six-year-old daughter who attended the session at Bridgemary School.

She said: "I had trouble saying no to Lily and was giving her portions of food which were too large for her to keep a healthy weight."

Hampshire Dementia Action Alliance launched

The number of people living with dementia is on the rise.

That is why a new community focused response has been launched by Andover Mind and Hampshire County Council.

The concept of a community focused response is so the wider community can develop a better understanding of the condition, so that people who have dementia can live independently.

Around 100 people representing Hampshire businesses attended the launch of the Hampshire Dementia Action Alliance.

Other shops, leisure companies, transport providers, health and social care organisations and charities are also being asked to sign up to the Alliance and pledge their commitment to creating Dementia Friendly Communities.

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