COUNCIL CHIEFS ‘HAVE AN AGENDA’ OVER MUSIC CUTS

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Cambrian News photographer - The orchestra which gathered outside Ceredigion County Council offices in Aberystwyth with conductor Gwion Phillips and their parents and supporters

Ceredigion County Council chiefs “have an agenda” in discussing potential cuts to the county’s music service in a closed meeting, a campaigner has insisted.

Cambrian News reported “Fears have been raised that the council is planning huge cuts to the music service, although council Cabinet members have said the claims are “fake news” and council leader Ellen ap Gwynn told a public meeting that no decisions have been made.

However, despite Cllr ap Gwynn saying that the service would be discussed in a public scrutiny committee meeting, it has now emerged that the meeting on 3 April will instead be a ‘work stream’ meeting behind closed doors.

That has been criticised by a campaigner and by council opposition leader Ceredig Davies, who said he had been told that the issue was “not a matter for councillors” who aren’t on the council’s Cabinet.

A group of school pupils organised an orchestra in protest at Ceredigion council’s proposed cuts to the music service and they performed at the council offices in Aberystwyth on Monday, 1 April, at 4.30pm.

Cllr Davies was also hauled before the authority’s monitoring officer to justify comments he made about concerns over the service.

There has been widespread outrage about claims that the service is facing massive budget cuts of up to 60 per cent with music teachers also being told they were facing redundancy.

Tom Sansbury, who started a Facebook page to fight against any cuts to the service, accused council chiefs of having an “agenda”.

He said: “It’s really sad they need to hide away from the constituents and their widespread concern regarding the cuts.

“This is on top of the fact that they have skirted around the actual figures and facts when clarity is what people need.

“It seems that the council has an agenda when it comes to the outcome of the music service.

“If this is not the case then they should be happy to hold a full scrutiny meeting.”

A council spokesperson said: “We are proud of the long and successful history of the Ceredigion Music Service and want to see it flourish in the future.

“We have to restructure services including the music service to make savings because of falling council budgets.

“Council budgets have reduced by 25 per cent in the last seven years.

“The work stream meeting scheduled for 3 April has always been scheduled as a work stream meeting.

“Cllr ap Gwynn incorrectly referred to the work stream as a committee.

“The council meeting programme is publicly available online. The Learning Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting has not been changed on this programme.”

“It is standard practice with services and schools who are considering staffing restructures to offer staff the opportunity to express an interest in voluntary redundancy.

“It has been made clear to music service staff that expressing an interest at this stage does not commit them to a voluntary redundancy process nor mean that interested staff would necessarily be released from their posts” here.

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