Young musician stuns councillors with plea to save Redbridge Music Service

AN IMPASSIONED music student stunned councillors when she delivered a speech imploring them to save Redbridge Music Service.

A momentary hush descended over the council chamber at Redbridge Town Hall in High Road, Ilford, on Thursday after 16-year-old Elizabeth Milne pleaded for councillors to reconsider slashing �886,000 of funding over the next three years as a petition of 1,590 names was put before members.

“This is a staggering figure and, unlike what the cabinet member thinks, as a consequence Redbridge Music Service will have to close for good,” she said.

“No more Redbridge Music Service, no more concerts in the Town Hall, the Albert Hall, the Festival Hall.

“No more young musicians available to play at council events. Almost 100 staff unemployed, lower exam results, especially in music as there are no staff to teach them. No alternative service offered. No music education for over 8,000 pupils.”

Cellist of 10 years, Miss Milne, of South Park Terrace, Ilford, said that over a fifth of the borough is currently taught by the service and 46 per cent of Redbridge music pupils who took exams last year achieved a distinction.

She said learning music gave children self-esteem, a social life, kept them out of trouble and contributed to Redbridge pupils getting the third highest GCSE marks in the country.

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She concluded by saying: “Redbridge Music Service is often described as ‘the jewel in Redbridge’s crown’. But what is a crown without its jewels? Inferior. Mediocre.”

Councillors supported her contribution. Cllr Barbara White said: “They say a picture can paint a thousand words and so can music.” Cllr Brian Lambert said: “I’m a musician. I started when I was 12 years old. I’m on your side.”

Cllr Robert Cole said the service should fill the shortfall in its �2.5 million budget by selling its services to other boroughs. The alternative was to cut other budgets such as social services.