East Sussex’s school music service could be run by Brighton charity

Music services in East Sussex schools could soon be run by a Brighton-based charity, if proposals are given the go ahead next week.

Tuesday, 28th May 2019, 5:26 pm
East Sussex's music service could be run by an outside charity

Bob Standley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for education, is set to consider proposals to award Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival (BDBF) with a contract to run the county’s music service.

Council officers say awarding the contract to the registered charity – which already provides a music service on behalf of Brighton and Hove City Council – means the authority would not have to reconsider cuts to its instrumental teaching service.

In a report on the proposals, a council officer said: “If a contract is not awarded and we continue to deliver a music service directly without the benefit of reducing costs through management and administration efficiencies, the service remains vulnerable to relatively small changes in the financial environment.

“A number of alternative options have previously been explored and awarding a concession contract was viewed as the preferred way forward due to some of the challenges posed by the other options.

“If we were unable to find a viable alternative it may result in the need to reconsider closing the small group and individual instrumental teaching service, which would incur redundancy costs in the region of £350,000.”

The council had considered closing this part of the music service last year, but its plans were scaled back following a public consultation.

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The proposed cuts had proven to be deeply unpopular, with more than 12,000 East Sussex residents signing a petition against them.

Following the consultation, however, the council said it had been able to find other ways of making the savings in the non-statutory service.

By appointing BDBF to run its music service, East Sussex County Council says it can avoid making cuts to the service in the future.

If approved, BDBF would take over the service through a concession contract. This means the contractor would draw its pay from the service, rather than a direct payment from the council.

According to council papers, the service provides an income of around £1.7m per annum from  fees and grant funding.

A decision on the proposals is set to be made by Cllr Standley on Monday June 3.