Music kids strike back as axe hits sour note Police hunting firebugs after 3 blazes
Students are against council’s cuts plans
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