Council leader rejects union fears over extent of music education budget savings

A petition was launched over the cuts
A petition was launched over the cuts

Fife Council leader David Ross claims proposed cuts to its music service are not as great as some have feared.

Claims that the draft budget included a total cut of £500,000 over the next three years led to a wave of protest amid fears that pupils’ music education would suffer and peripatetic teachers could lose their jobs.

A petition started by Fife mother of two Morag Lonergan has amassed almost 5000 signatures since Friday night and a statement from David Farmer, publicity officer for the Educational Institute of Scotland, slammed the proposal calling it “the unkindest of cuts”.

He added: “Many of us have enjoyed musical events in school where the musical talents of young people from Fife have shone through. 

“The proposal to cut the music service by £500,000 over the next three years will effectively bring that to an end.” 

But David Ross said he was “bemused” by Mr Farmer’s remarks and said the actual figure proposed by the council was much lower.

“We are not proposing to cut the music service by £500,000 over the next three years,” he said.

“We are proposing to save only £100,000 next year from this service mainly through increasing fees for extra-curricular tuition, but we have rejected a proposal from officers that we stop the service which would have saved over £1m.

“The total saving from this proposal would have been £1.184m over three years, which is 77.2 per cent of all music tuition.

“Our draft proposal is to reduce the saving to £100,000 in 2016/17 - 6.5 per cent of total budget.”

Councillor Fay Sinclair, Fife SNP education and children’s services spokesman, urged the public to make its voice heard over the proposals.

“You can see that there’s a real strength of feeling against these proposed cuts to music provision, just by the number of people who have signed this petition. They put a real value on it.

“It looks likely that there will be in increase for those paying fees and whilst this is preferable to the worst case scenario which would be scrapping it altogether, we’ll still be seeing some serious cuts to the service.”