Mu­sic kids strike back as axe hits sour note Po­lice hunt­ing fire­bugs af­ter 3 blazes

Stu­dents are against coun­cil’s cuts plans

West Lothian Courier - - News - Deb­bie Hall Sean O’Neil

Mu­sic pupils are fight­ing back against pro­pos­als to cut West Loth­ian’s In­stru­men­tal Mu­sic Ser­vice in schools.

The Courier re­ported last week that the coun­cil is look­ing at cut­ting the ser­vice as part of a raft of ideas to help bal­ance its bud­get.

But stu­dents who re­ceive free tu­ition un­der the ser­vice have hit out at the pro­pos­als, say­ing any cuts would be detri­men­tal to their ed­u­ca­tion.

Alice Fer­gu­son (15) is a mem­ber of the Scot­tish Youth Par­lia­ment and Grade 5 trum­pet-player and at­tends Lin­lith­gow Acad­emy.

She said: “In re­sponse to strong feel­ings amongst my con­stituents I started a cam­paign to save the un­der­threat in­stru­men­tal tu­ition in West Loth­ian.

“Free in­stru­men­tal tu­ition in schools and across West Loth­ian is be­ing threat­ened un­der the pro­posed bud­get plan by West Loth­ian Coun­cil.

“Not only would in­stru­men­tal tu­ition it­self be cut back but bands, en­sem­bles, com­mu­nity con­certs, camps to name a few would van­ish.

“The cam­paign in­volves peo­ple hold­ing up a sign say­ing why they would like in­stru­men­tal tu­ition to be saved and how it has af­fected them. The cam­paign has grow­ing sup­port from a range of ages and the is­sue brings pas­sion and emo­tion through­out West Loth­ian.”

Alice said many stu­dents have backed her cam­paign.

One pupil said: “Save West Loth­ian mu­sic tu­ition be­cause play­ing the vi­o­lin has made me more con­fi­dent. We work hard as part of a team in orches­tra and make the school proud when we per­form. Our teach­ers are bril­liant.”

And an­other said: “I love my mu­sic so much, ev­ery time I play it a smile spreads across my face. I have the most won­der­ful in­stru­ment, I love it.”

Alice con­tin­ued: “The cam­paign’s hashtag is #WL­mu­sic and you can see more ex­am­ples and in­for­ma­tion on my MSYP twit­ter (AliceMSYP), Face­book (AliceSYP) and In­sta­gram (Alicemsyp)

“The im­por­tance of in­stru­men­tal tu­ition of­ten goes un­der no­ticed how­ever it plays a key part in West Loth­ian.”

A West Loth­ian Coun­cil spokesper­son said: “Our Trans­form­ing Your Coun­cil con­sul­ta­tion on pro­pos­als to bridge an es­ti­mated bud­get gap of £ 73 mil­lion over the next five years.

“It is now ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to make changes with­out im­pact­ing upon ser­vices that lo­cal peo­ple have be­come ac­cus­tomed to, and many ser­vices will have to change or stop al­to­gether.

“Pos­si­ble changes to in­stru­men­tal mu­sic are just one of a wide range of pro­pos­als be­ing con­sid­ered, and no fi­nal de­ci­sions will be made un­til the coun­cil bud­get is set next year.

“It is very im­por­tant to re­mem­ber though that if some pro­pos­als are not taken for­ward and agreed, other bud­get mea­sures will have to be put in place to make up the bud­get short­fall.” Po­lice are hunt­ing fire­bugs af­ter a spate of sus­pi­cious fires in the Liv­ingston area - in­clud­ing one at a shop­ping cen­tre which caused £18,000 worth dam­age.

Three fires in as many days in the West Loth­ian town have po­lice search­ing for one or more sus­pects with it not yet be­ing known if the crimes are linked.

The first fire took place at the Liv­ingston De­signer Out­let shop­ping cen­tre at around 4.40am on Satur­day (Novem­ber 25) out­side the Lime Kiln restau­rant.

A card­board re­cy­cling com­pactor was set alight and to­tally de­stroyed with the dam­age cost­ing around £18,000.

Con­sta­ble Lucy Ma­son from Liv­ingston Po­lice Sta­tion said: “This ran­dom and reck­less act of de­struc­tion could have re­sulted in busi­nesses be­ing dam­aged and mem­bers of the pub­lic be­ing put at risk had the fire spread.”

The fol­low­ing night ( Sun­day, Novem­ber 26) a black Vaux­hall Zafira was stolen from Waver­ley Cres­cent some­time af­ter 9pm.

It was found torched at around 7am the fol­low­ing morn­ing in Murieson Road West with a red Roma Mi­ami Mo­bil­ity Scooter stolen from the ve­hi­cle.

PC Chris Ash­ley of Liv­ingston Po­lice Sta­tion said: “This theft has left the vic­tim with­out ac­cess to a vi­tal means of trans­port and our en­quiries con­tinue to es­tab­lish who is re­spon­si­ble.”

Po­lice are also ap­peal­ing for wit­nesses to an­other in­ci­dent of wilful fir­erais­ing that oc­curred at around 1.20am on Mon­day (Novem­ber 27) when a bin store in a com­mon stair­well in Forth Drive, Craigshill, was set alight.

De­tec­tive Con­sta­ble Barry Car­lin of Liv­ingston CID said: “Thank­fully no per­sons were hurt as a re­sult of the fire, how­ever sig­nif­i­cant in­con­ve­nience was caused to res­i­dents.

“We are keen to hear from any­one who may have seen any­thing or any­body act­ing sus­pi­ciously at the time of the in­ci­dent.”

Cam­paign Alice Fer­gu­son is call­ing for free mu­sic lessons to be re­tained

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