Campaigners vow to continue fight to protect Redbridge Music Service

PUBLISHED: 17:22 18 February 2015 | UPDATED: 17:30 18 February 2015

The Redbridge Music School brass band at the Mayor's Carol Service at Southwark Cathedral.

The Redbridge Music School brass band at the Mayor's Carol Service at Southwark Cathedral.

Credit: Kois Miah

Redbridge Council has made a dramatic U-turn and scrapped proposed cuts to the Redbridge Music Service.

The decision was made at a consultation with the cabinet this week following feedback from users of the Barkingside-based centre.

The future of the service – which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year – was uncertain as the council proposed to reduce its funding from £370,000 to zero over a two-year period, contributing to saving £70m from its budget.

An online petition – called Hands Off Redbridge Music Service – had already collected more than 1,200 signatures in protest against the proposal.

But in an unexpected turn of events, Redbridge Council yesterday (Wednesday) announced to scrap the plans and begin a 12-month consultation about the future of the service, which provides tuition and instrument hire to school children.

Campaigners have welcomed the decision but say they are still concerned about possible changes to teachers’ terms and conditions.

Helen Watson, secretary of Friends of the Redbridge Music Service, said: “Our teachers are inspiring and dedicated – giving long hours of their free time to help our children with exams and leading the myriad of bands offered at music school.

“We will fight as hard as we can to make the council drop plans to attack our teachers.”

Cllr Wes Streeting, deputy leader of the council, revealed that a music service advisory panel will be set up, involving parents, users of the service and councillors.

He said: “One of the positive things that has come out of the consultation has been the strong desire of parents and young people to help shape the future of the music service against the bleak backdrop for local government finance.

“We’re doing our best to protect front line services, but it’s challenging and it would be disingenuous to suggest there aren’t painful decisions for every department.”

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