East Sussex Music Service still facing closure ahead of consultation meeting

East Sussex County Councillor Bob Standley has decided to go ahead with a consultation meeting in June regarding the proposed closure of the East Sussex Instrumental Music Service. The decision has come to a shock to other members of the county council who the majority agree that the music service should remain open and other alternatives should be found to continue the service.

A meeting at County Hall today was held to discuss the proposals put forward by Councillor Bob Standley, lead member for Education and Inclusion, Special Educational Needs and Disability. The two proposals outlined in the agenda, suggest a management and administrative restructure of the music service, which has decided will be going ahead, and then a further option that proposes the closure of the Instrumental music service which would result in 70 teachers being made redundant.

Students from ESAM marching outside County Hall

Councillor Kathryn Field said that children can benefit from music in all sorts of ways, especially those with additional needs and who struggle with core educational subjects. “I think to deprive a child of an area, such as music, that they can excel in is morally wrong,” she said.

Councillor John Barnes told those at the meeting how his granddaughter benefits from East Sussex Music Service and how the council need to consult with members of the public to come up with a viable way to continue the music service. “We need to preserve this valuable service that contributes so widely to the UK,” he said. “An A-Level in Music is highly sought by the IT industry. Why do we want to damage the economic future of this county and our country. We need to find an alternative way to not cripple this service.”

A petition to save the East Sussex Music Service now has over 10,000 signatures which means that a full council debate will have to go ahead to discuss the issue. However, this debate is unlikely to happen before the consultation meeting.

Councillor Bob Standley stressed that this was not a done deal and no final decision had been made on the closure of the music service.

Jane Humberstone, National Education Union Representative for East Sussex Music Service, is hopeful that support will continue to save the music service and find other alternatives to allow the music service to continue. “It’s a public consultation which means hopefully that we can keep our army of supporters motivated,” she said. “They can come to that consultation meeting and come up with a new vision for the music service.”

ESAM students drumming up support outside County Hall in Lewes

Students from the East Sussex Academy of Music (ESAM) braved the wind and rain and played outside County Hall in protest of the proposed closure before today’s meeting took place.