OSCARS set for new home

PLANS to relocate an out-of-school child care service under one roof look set to be rubber-stamped.

OSCARS is a childcare service operated from two sites all year round by Hartlepool Borough Council.

But council officers are looking to merge the two sites in a bid to make savings.

OSCARS - which caters for four to 16-year-olds - is currently based at Miers Avenue Sure Start building and Owton Manor Community Centre but officers are recommending it move to West Rugby Club, in Catcote Road.

As a result of the merger, seven posts are likely to be axed - but five of them are currently vacant.

Across the two sites the service can take a maximum of 133 children in both the after school and holiday clubs.

Officers said there had to be enough space to merge both sites without a reduction in children, a kitchen, appropriate number of toilets and a large outdoor space.

Venues including Throston Community Centre, Owton Manor Community Centre, Burbank and West View Community Centre and Mill House Leisure Centre were all considered,

But officers are recommending the Catcote Road site.

Labour group leader Chris Simmons, portfolio holder for children’s services, will meet on Monday to discuss the issue.

A report to the meeting said: “The most appropriate venue, taking into account all the criteria required, is West Rugby Club, in Catcote Road.

“This venue offers a secure environment that would be exclusively used by OSCARS service with appropriate kitchen and toilet facilities.

“It also offers a large outdoor space and adequate car parking for parents to drop off and pick up.”

Officers say the move will ensure the standard of the service is retained.

The report added: “There is a risk of an overspend on the OSCARS budget if costs are not reduced.

“The move to one site allows for a reduction in staffing costs whilst still delivering a high quality service.”

It warned that while there is a risk that parents will not want to travel to the new site others may find the new site more suitable.

Officers say they will monitor the situation closely.

The OSCARS after school club service runs from 3.15pm-6pm for 39 weeks a year.

Meanwhile, the holiday club service operates from 8.30am-5.45pm for 11 weeks of the year.

The service is closed for two weeks over the Christmas period.

The portfolio meeting was due to be held in the civic centre, in Victoria Road, at 2pm today.