Town councillor slams grants to bands as ‘scandalous’

The Tarka Pipe Band at an event earlier this year.

The Tarka Pipe Band at an event earlier this year. - Credit: Archant

The Bideford town councillor said she objected to the money being given to ‘hobbies’ over charities as council dishes out £100k in grants.

A BIDEFORD councillor has slammed the town council as ‘scandalous’ for granting thousands-of-pounds to several town bands.

Councillor Anne Brenton said at last Thursday’s full council meeting she objected to the bands receiving around £600 per member to ‘strut around in expensive skirts’.

In total, the council gave just short of £100,000 to a total of 65 local groups and charities out of the 2014/15 budget, including £3,000 to the Bideford Town Band, £2,500 to the Bideford Youth Pipe Band and £2,000 to the Tarka Pipe Band.

Councillor Brenton said she felt the money should have been given to local charities rather than to ‘hobbies’.

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She said: “I find the grants rather disturbing – I thought the idea was to help needy people and those who needed support in Bideford.

“I have no problem with the youth pipe band because young people should be active, but I do question whether the 37 adults of Tarka Pipe Band at East-the-Water should be given £2,000 to strut around in designer tartan kilts.”

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Cllr Brenton said she felt it was ‘morally wrong’ when the committee ‘quibbled’ over giving a Parkinson’s group £500 which amounted to £13.50 per person involved.

When the Gazette contacted Darren Hooper, secretary of the Tarka Pipe Band, he said he was completely ‘gobsmacked’ by the comments from Cllr Brenton.

He said: “We may not be a registered charity – though we are looking into this – but we are a not-for-profit organisation and we still need funding.

“We have played at several events for the North Devon Hospice this year and we represent the town as unofficial ambassadors at all sorts of events further afield.

What do you think? Email your thoughts to, or write to our Opinion pages at: North Devon Gazette, Unit 3, Old Station Road, Barnstaple, EX32 8PB.

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