Barn-ey at brass fee

Feeling flat: Members of Whiston Brass outside the Manorial Barn, their home for the last 20 years.
Feeling flat: Members of Whiston Brass outside the Manorial Barn, their home for the last 20 years.
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MUSICIANS in a South Yorkshire band are thoroughly brassed off after fees for their regular rehearsal hall rocketed by 500 per cent.

Whiston Brass have played and practised in the Manorial Barn since it was restored and refurbished 20 years ago.

But relationships between the 150-year-old band and the parish council have fallen flat after annual fees were raised from around £1,200 to more than £6,000.

Concert secretary John Johnson said the band had been told that they were a ‘commercial operation’ and would therefore attract the higher rate.

The band, based in the village on the outskirts of Rotherham, appealed against the decision but it was upheld by councillors.

Mr Johnson and the 30-strong band, which includes adult and youth sections, say they are ‘shocked and gutted’ at the decision, and predict without help it could spell the end of their tradition.

Now villagers have circulated a petition protesting against the fee increase.

Mr Johnson, a 61-year-old carpet fitter and bassist from nearby Broom, added: “We were devastated, we just do not have that sort of money to spend. It is completely ridiculous and unfair.

“Two weeks ago we were told that we had to move all our instruments and equipment out of the barn because we couldn’t pay the fees and there was no negotiation.

“We are worried we will now end up homeless and nameless because it’s unlikely we will be able to find anywhere else in the village to host us and it’s very unsettling for the young people who are involved.”

In a statement, Whiston Parish Council said the increase in rehearsal fees was necessary because the authority was running a deficit and needed to find a way to balance the books, leading to increased charges.

“Whiston Brass has been afforded exceptionally low charges for hire of the barn for many years and has enjoyed free storage of equipment at the Parish Council’s expense.

“The increase of charges is an unfortunate, but necessary, step in addressing the budget deficit. These are hard times for all, and even the council has to fight for survival.”