PEOPLE power won the day as plans to cut music tuition in Midlothian to save money have been rejected.

But the council has decided on a 4.79% council tax hike - the maximum allowed by Holyrood - to help meet a budget shortfall of nearly £10m.

 The decision came after hundreds of pupils turned up with their instruments and placards to make their feelings known as councillors met at Midlothian House in Dalkeith.

The objections came as the council was contemplating becoming the first Scottish local authority to entirely end musical instrument tuition in its schools, except for pupils studying Higher and Advanced Higher music.

A petition attracted 12,000 signatures and 31 music experts wrote to the council voicing their concerns over the proposals that highlighted the measures Scottish councils are having to consider to deal with enormous budgetary pressures.


Labour council leader Derek Milligan, who delivered the news to protestors, said: “The impact some of the savings measures would have had on Midlothian’s communities was unacceptable to us, which is why they have been rejected by the council. 

READ MORE: Music lessons are a must

"We have also heard, loud and clear, the concerns of local people and their passionate support for the local services and facilities that mean so much to them."

The cuts were part of a series of cost saving measures including the loss of three libraries, three sports centres and  public toilets which were also rejected at the meeting.

Also rejected were plans to cut free swimming lessons for P4 pupils and reduce the number of learning assistants, adult and youth lifelong learning, and school crossing guides.

Services that will be affected by cuts as the council tries to balance its budget include cutting back the school transport budget and increasing car parking charges.

It will also close Vogrie golf course in Gorebridge, cut back on landscaping, reduce cleaning in non-school buildings, stop its taxi card scheme and end healthy lifestyle development and community safety teams' funding. Senior management will also be reduced.

The news was celebrated by those supporting the Save Midlothian MusicTuition campaign.

Yvonne Dickson said: "Super proud of my niece Cara Pryde and her friends who helped make the music happen today. 

"Well done to our young musicians and their supporters who got out of their beds during the school holidays to show how much the arts and sports mean to them. The stars of the future will have a lot to thank you for. You all sounded amazing - why would anyone want to see that talent diminish."

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The high number of parents and pupils who turned out in support of the demonstration today shows the strength of feeling in the Midlothian community, and its belief that all children should have access to music tuition.

“Learning music benefits young people in terms of their self-confidence, and in their ability to work both independently or as part of a larger group.”

#changethetune from Chris Fraser on Vimeo.

Mr Milligan warned that like many councils across the country, Midlothian is "struggling to cope with successive reductions in the core government funding needed to maintain the levels of service that the public expect and deserve". 

He added: This is made worse by the rapid growth in population that we are having to deal with, and plan for."

 Last week, John Mustard, Moray council's head of instrumental instruction service and an accomplished cellist quit his post after moves to increase music tuition fees for pupils by 85 per cent next year.

The proposals by Moray Council, which come after a string of similar increases by other local authorities, would saddle 800 families with a £699 annual bill.

Mr Mustard stepped down after 30 years claiming the decision could deprive youngsters of a lifetime of enjoying music.

The council is currently struggling to close a budget gap of about £14 million.