North East Wales

Criticism over £17m Denbighshire council cuts

protesters on
Image caption People gathered outside Scala Cinema in Prestatyn, which could see its council funding stopped

Councillors have been criticised for voting through cash cuts affecting extra curricula music provision hours before a youth choir and band they fund performed at a council carol service.

Denbighshire councillors agreed a new round of cuts to reduce their spending by £17m over the next two years.

It includes cutting £100,000 to finance a music service helping youth ensembles like Denbighshire Youth Brass Band.

The conductor told the audience in Rhyl that the band's future was uncertain.

"No one asked us what should be done," John Powell told BBC Wales.

One parent, who did not want to be named, criticised the timing given the budget meeting earlier on Tuesday.

"The kids are devastated," she said before the concert. "And now they want them to come out and play Jingle Bells."

The brass band and Denbighshire Youth Choir played at the council fund raising carol service at St Thomas' Church.

In November parents presented Denbighshire council with a petition of nearly 4,000 names in support of the work of William Mathias Music Service to run the council's music service and ensembles for 190 children.

The council said the services were in addition to school music lessons, which all children will continue to receive.

£7m more cuts

It has also said it "would potentially consider alternative ways of providing this type of opportunity for children and young people" so it is not yet clear what the future holds for the ensembles.

On Tuesday, council chairman Brian Blakeley said he had received letters and social media messages from children and parents about the cuts.

He said his role as chairman was meant to be impartial and that although he shared their concerns, savings had to be found from somewhere.

But he said there may still be some hope as the budget will not be formally accepted until February.

He described the concert as "fantastic" and that while Mr Powell had been "very blunt" when they met for the first time at the concert, the pair were going to meet to try to move forward.

Meanwhile, protesters gathered outside the Scala cinema and arts centre in Prestatyn earlier on Tuesday to make their feelings known as the cutbacks mean it will lose its subsidy.

The council still needs to find £7m more savings over the next two years.

After the council meeting, Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, lead member for finance and assets, said: "The time has now come for us to start implementing some of the most difficult decisions we have ever needed to make as a council.

"We have done as much as we can through careful financial planning, through trimming services and protecting vital services to the public. "

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites