World champion pipe band which played at Tartan Week could be axed as part of council budget cuts

A world class youth pipe band which played at the Tartan Day celebrations in New York could be scrapped as part of money-saving cuts to music provision in North Lanarkshire schools.

Norther Lanarkshire Schools Pipe Band is among the ensembles which could be cut under cost savings to be considered by the council.
Norther Lanarkshire Schools Pipe Band is among the ensembles which could be cut under cost savings to be considered by the council.

North Lanarkshire Schools Novice A Pipe Band, which is the current world champion, is among many orchestras, choirs and other ensembles earmarked for the axe as part of major cutbacks to be considered by the local council.

Music teachers were called to an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon and told that the council will on Monday consider two proposals to save cash from the music budget: either cutting the two instrumental teacher managers, one full-time instrumental teacher and all local ensembles attended by hundreds of children; or axing the entire in-school music service.

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The local authority is the latest to consider scaling back its instrumental music service in a bid to save cash. Edinburgh Council is today considering £500,000 of cuts to music provision, which could mean charging parnets for lessons or reducing the range of instruments on offer.

In North Lanarkshire, other non-statutory services - those which the council is not required by the Scottish Government to provide, unlike schools or refuse collection - are also being considered for cuts at next week’s meeting. North Lanarkshire Council has previously said that it wants to cut £31 million from its budget this year and £100m over the next three years.

One person close to the music service said staff were “shocked” when told the proposals.

He said: “Everyone was just in shock at the stark choices on offer. A world class pipe band could go and even if tuition remains, there would be nowhere that children could play together, which is the point of learning an instrument.”

The North Lanarkshire Schools Novice A Pipe Band scooped the world championship title last September, adding to their existing British and European titles. Last April, the band was invited to play at Tartan Week in New York. Fifty two pipers and drummers from secondary schools across North Lanarkshire took part in the parade along the US city’s Sixth Avenue in front a crowd of 30,000 people.

A video of the band playing Scotland the Brave and Rowan Tree to commuters at the city’s Grand Central Station during the visit went viral.

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: “All non-statutory areas of council expenditure have been presented to councillors and any savings from these areas will be considered at the council’s budget meeting on Monday 24 February.”