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HOW the music service was restructured in Ceredigion has been criticised with the former council chairman calling the process “flawed.”

At Wednesday’s (Jul 17) learning communities overview and scrutiny committee Ceredigion County Coucnil’s corporate director Barry Rees said 878 pupils had expressed an interest in the new lesson format.

This will see parents paying £140 for a year’s tuition, apart from those studying music or receiving free school meals, with a potential income for the schools service of £98,000, councillors heard.

Council chairman for 2018/19 Cllr Hag Harries said that the cabinet decision to ignore recommendations made by the scrutiny committee previously and take the restructure as an operational issue for its decision was a “democratic car crash.”

“I don’t think that cabinet members are malevolent individuals trying to mess things up but the democratic process followed has been interpretively wrong and if not wrong technically, wrong in the spirit of this council.

“The spirit and openness that is so commonly espoused by us, by the leader and the cabinet, are being subverted here and this is wrong,” he said.

Cllr Keith Evans and Alun Lloyd Jones supported Cllr Harries view.

Mr Rees reiterated that it was the subsidy to the service that was being cut and not the service itself with some pupils being “better off.”

A consultation to staff changes within the service is ongoing and will be implemented in January 2020 although the new service will begin in September this year.

There will be an increase in group lessons and use of two community hubs for after-school lessons will be trialed, most likely in more rural areas, the committee heard.

“This is demand-led and the staffing will meet the demand, but differently to how it has been,” said Mr Rees.

He agreed with Cllr Ceredig Davies’ point that schools which previously charged for music lessons would not have that income but added that the service had been provided centrally.

Cllr Bryan Davies said that many of the complaints he had heard were from the Aberystwyth area and this was a “service for Ceredigion.”

“The service needed restructuring anyway. Pupils in my ward will benefit from more hours following the restructure and not all pupils are musical, some are into sports. Parents take them on evenings and weekends, in and outside the county, the service is not for everybody,” he added.

The committee agreed that a review of the service changes will return for scrutiny with an attempt to accommodate pupils to hear their opinions be considered.

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