Redbridge council has defended its proposed funding cut for a music education centre for children and young adults.

As part of its £70 million cost-cutting plans by 2017, Redbridge council is considering slashing Redbridge Music Service's (RMS) budget by £370,000 over the next two years, starting this April.  

A campaign has been launched by the Friends of the RMS to save the award-winning centre of excellence, which provides tuition to more than 10,000 children across north east London and Essex. 

Founded 50 years ago, the RMC has helped build the confidence of thousands of young people through learning an instrument and joining performance groups, such as its brass band or orchestra. 

The service, based at the John Savage Centre in Fencpiece Road, Barkingside, runs an instrument repair and loan service which is visited by some 1,000 children on a weekly basis. 

Proposed changes include outsourcing the instrument loan and repair service, transferring full-time staff members, implementing a retirement-related recruitment freeze and reviewing staff term and conditions.  

Chairwoman Lynn Hammond fears 'privatisation' will lead to increased charges and an end to subsidised schemes for children from low-income families.

Adding: "These decisions could sign the death warrant for music education in Redbridge."

But, the council has insisted the cuts are necessary to balance the books. 

A spokeswoman said: "We know that many residents value the services provided by the Music Service, however this needs to be balanced with the enormous amount of savings the council needs to find due to government cuts to our funding. 

"These proposals would mean that residents will still be able to enjoy the benefits of the Music Service, while allowing the council to make savings. 

"It is not intended to affect the music lessons provided by the Redbridge Music Service, as this will continue to be funded directly by schools who wish to take it up. 

"All current instruments hiring agreements would remain in place so we expect the changes to have a minimal impact on current service users."

Friends of the RMS will stage a protest outside of the Town Hall on March 5.