Joy as an instrumental music charge will be phased out in West Lothian for next year

The news that young people learning to play an instrument in West Lothian won’t have to pay fees is music to their families’ ears.

Funding worth £ 7million from the Scottish Government will cover the costs for the 2021-2022 academic year.

And one mom who was thrilled to hear the news was Hazel Ross, whose daughter Isla plays the French horn.

Hazel had spoken to the Courier in the past about being billed full price for her children’s music lessons when all they can learn is theory, without practice, due to covid rules.

She said: ‘It is of course great news that the government has come to their senses in providing funding to allow for the removal of these unfair fees ensuring free instrumental music lessons in Scottish public schools.

“Job security will be a relief for the guardian and families will also appreciate the financial burden lightened during this pandemic.

“I am delighted that so many other children can once again access and benefit from the service. “

Breaking the news, MSP Fiona Hyslop brushed off the work of the West Lothian council, accusing the party of bringing the charges in the first place, something party leader and council head Lawrence Fitzpatrick said they had was imposed because of the SNP. cuts.

She said: “Learning to music can be life changing for many young people and West Lothian has always had a great tradition of making music in the county. It is essential that all young people who receive additional music lessons in schools can do so because of their talent and love of music and are not limited by costs.

“Instrumental music lessons are of utmost importance to children and young people in West Lothian, and I am glad that funding has been introduced to remove the fees originally introduced by the West Lothian Labor Council.

“I fought for this pledge to be included in the SNP’s manifesto for the 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections, and I am delighted that the Scottish government has put in place funding to ensure access to education for all young people. musical.

“I know that members of the Scottish Youth Parliament have fought for this, including our local MSP in Linlithgow, Alice Ferguson, who even testified before the Scottish Parliament on the issue. Their hard work has paid off and now local families in West Lothian will pay no fees for music lessons. “

Lawrence Fitzpatrick said he also welcomed the news, but said it was “dishonest” for Fiona Hyslop to attack the West Lothian Council for introducing fees for instrumental music services in 2018, which ‘he said he was forced to make by the SNP cuts.

He continued: ‘Between 2007 and 2023 West Lothian Council will be forced to realize budget savings of over £ 151million in the provision of services due to prolonged constraints in Scottish government funding.

“The reasons why most boards, like ourselves, introduced a fee for the IMS was that the IMS was not a statutory service and the savings were needed to continue providing essential services to the most. vulnerable in our county.

“It was a heartbreaking decision to introduce pricing, but with massive budget pressures, there was no alternative.

“It is true that SNP-led councils across Scotland have introduced fees for IMS, their fees are higher than those in West Lothian.

“We are therefore delighted that the Scottish Government has accepted this position three years late.”

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