When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Funding fears as trust may get to run our music service
A NOT-for-profit organisation could be set up to run the county’s music service after plans to privatise it were scrapped.
Oxfordshire County Council will investigate establishing a trust to run the service instead of asking a private company to take over.
But concerns have been raised that the council could withdraw its £360,000 annual support of the £2.5m service, which also gets funding of £1.76m through the Department for Education and Arts Council until 2015.
The news comes after the authority carried out a review of £25m of back office and administrative services in a bid to save cash.
Now concerns about the future of the music service have been raised.
Martin Sheldon, 92, of Headington Quarry, ran the council’s service from 1974 to 1981.
He said any cut in funding would worry him.
He said: “It would be awful if the money was cut.
“I strongly suspect the head of the music service at the moment will see the idea of a trust as the most viable option.
“If I was still in his position I think that’s what I would say.”
The trust would be set up by the council and run independently, although when it might launch and who might run it have yet to be confirmed.
Next week, the cabinet will vote on the future of services like IT, human resources, school support and adult education after a review concluded the functions could not all go to one company.
Instead, HR and finance teams will be outsourced, while IT will be downsized and kept in-house.
Support services for schools will be supplied by partnerships formed between the council and other companies while responsibilities for some adult education functions will be taken on by schools and colleges.
Music teacher Penny Dwyer, who co-ordinates the instrumental teaching at Windmill Primary School, said: “I think it certainly sounds like a better option.
“I think most people would say that no-one should be making a profit out of education.”
The number of potential job losses and total savings target have not been confirmed by the council.
Council deputy leader Rodney Rose, who led the project, said: “A lot of people have assumed that we would settle on just one way forward for all of these services.
“However, we have come up with a range of options tailored to each service.
“Put simply, our market testing has led us to the conclusion that a one-size-fits-all solution with one major private sector company taking on all of these services is not the way forward.”
He said the council could not rule out redundancies among the 600 staff who work in the areas under review, but said the county was following in the footsteps of others authorities.
He said: “A number of councils are much further down the line than Oxfordshire County Council in terms of managing these types of change and we have been careful to pick the brains of officers at such councils to learn from their experiences.
“We believe we have a horses for courses way forward that will save money and best suit the services in question. A lot of hard work has been done and much still lies ahead.”
Comments are closed on this article.