Redbridge Music Service funding cuts dropped after students’ protest
- Credit: Archant
Plans to cut funding for music lessons in Redbridge have been shelved after young musicians staged a protest outside the town hall.
Redbridge Council has dropped its proposals to outsource the Redbridge Music Service instrument centre, based in Barkingside, saving £166,650.
It is also launching a year-long consultation on the future of the service, and will hold “extensive consultation” over changes to staffing and management planned for the following year.
Deputy leader of the council Cllr Wes Streeting said the authority was going “back to the drawing board”.
He said: “With a £70million budget hole to fill, the scale of the challenge cannot be underestimated and we’re trying to find savings across the board.
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“It’s clear from market testing and conversations with parents, young people and alumni of the music service that we’re not able to achieve the planned savings to the instrument centre in a way that saves money and maintains the quality of service we want.”
Cllr Streeting, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, admitted the council should have “started the conversation sooner” with parents and people who use the service.
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He said the authority was setting up a Music Service Advisory Panel, including parents, young people, staff and councillors to look at service’s future.
“I know that some people would like us to say ‘no cuts’, but local government finances are being hollowed out by central government,” he added.
“We’re doing our very best to protect front line services, but it’s challenging and it would be disingenuous to suggest that there aren’t painful decisions coming down the tracks for every department across the council.”
Of the proposed cuts, £18,350 – a small saving from a retirement-related recruitment freeze – will still go ahead in 2015-16.