Wednesday, 4 February 2015

No Success for Save Stansfeld Campaign

It seems that the deadline has passed for the community group, who wanted to save Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre in Headington from being sold off, to come forward with a viable scheme.

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The stakeholders had six months to find generous patrons, investors or an "angel" as theatrical folk term it, to help them put forward a plan to save the centre for field study. Basically somebody needs to buy it, and the City Council simply does not care. It has cold-shouldered this entire business. If the City Council ran its financial affairs more efficiently surely it should have a contingency fund to provide £375,000 in case of unusual need  - but it doesn't.
           Listed in the City Council's budget statement we find such items as "International Exch - Other 47,452 - 47,452" indicating that they  have spent £47,452 this year on some sort of International Exchange event. Presumably a town-twinning jaunt.They have also spent £112,697 on other unspecified events, and a sum of £30,496 on "social inclusion" whatever that means, It also lists a sum of £429,262 spent on "Positive Futures". The latter defines itself as a "Youth Ambition Programme for Oxford City".  If  that does not seem very specific, the other webpages I can find connected with it are all equally vague, It seems that Positive Futures is a scheme that requires channelling money at young people of unspecified age to carry out activities that are also unspecified:-

i)                    Up to 14 sessions each week to be delivered through the City Council’s Positive Futures Team focused on those areas of greatest need and lowest relative provision where there is currently no viable alternative provider;

ii)                  An £50k being made available to support by grants open access sessions delivered by other suitable providers for the remainder of this year;

iii)                The remainder of funding for 2012/13 to be retained in a Youth Ambition Fund available to support bids to externalfunders to provide positive activities for young people in the Council’s priority areas and other areas of relative deprivation;

         iv)           Request that the Direct of Community Services produces a strategy for the development of the Council’s Youth Ambition Programme with appropriate objectives and targets;

If you add up all of those, the total far exceeds £375,000, So why can't Oxford City Council with its budget of tens of millions, find the modest sum it would take to save Stansfeld?
      The more I think about it, a Field Study Centre would be a very sensible thing for idle teenagers of "greatest need and lowest relative provision" to use for their leisure, general education and growth in environmental awareness.
      But nobody else sees it that way ,so this precious 17 acres of wilderness will soon have to go.

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