ACCUSATIONS that domestic abuse services are soon to be severely cut back have been levelled at the council.

In the latest full council meeting of Slough Borough Council last Tuesday, Cllr Paul Kelly (Con) questioned the council over the recent departure of the anti-domestic violence charity DASH (Domestic Abuse Stops Here), which has been forced to leave the area after over 40 years of service due to the council dropping their funding.

The council had explained, at the time, that the position had been put up for a fair tender process, and that DASH had failed to acquire it – the winning bidder being the London-based firm Hestia.

Cllr Kelly said: “Can the Council answer how it can be called a ‘fair process’ when a local charity with 40 years specialist experience of the domestic abuse sector loses out to a semi-corporate London-based organisation, who have no record of delivering services in a town such as Slough?”

“Perhaps, most importantly, you could be transparent to the loss of services to women as a result of DASH no longer being able to deliver in the area.

“I understand that a programme of 12 week one-to-one support to medium risk clients has been replaced with a two-hour intervention.”

Cllr Natasa Pantelic, cabinet member for health and social care, said these claims of service cutbacks were untrue.

She said: “I’d like to re-assure members that there is no evidence of any loss of service to people suffering from domestic abuse as a result of the contract change.

“The provision is now larger and more robust, with Hestia’s wider experience, and the additional funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner providing two additional roles.”

Cllr Pantelic continued: “The two unsuccessful bidders were offered the opportunity to raise any concerns regarding the procurement process.

“No formal challenges were received from DASH, or the other bidder.

“The council still works with DASH in relation to refuge accommodation, and we are keen to continue this partnership and work with our partners as we tackle domestic abuse and violence.”