WCROWDS of angry parents gathered at Bromley's Civic Centre to campaign against proposed funding cuts for the Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT).

The News Shopper has campaigned for the last two months against the proposals to cut funding for more than 5,000 musicians in the borough and we have received hundreds of letters of support.

More than 70 parents, children and staff gathered in Stockwell Close to present a 3,000-signature petition to Councillor Peter Woods, deputy chairman of the education committee.

The proposals to cut the funding by 20 per cent next year, reducing to zero during the next four years, have also attracted stinging criticism from Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport Tessa Jowell.

She has called the News Shopper to offer her backing and there is also support from Bromley's opposition councillors.

Council Leader Councillor Michael Tickner has said the service must "tighten its belt" along with others in the borough but BYMT chairman Peter Mawson says it could "sink" under the weight of the proposals.

Friends of BYMT chairman Tony Benfield said: "This organisation is incredibly important to the community of this borough.

"So many children are able to pursue an interest in music, as well as those who go on to careers in the field, and this would all be lost.

"It would be devastating for parents and children if the service sank because of lack of funding."

The proposed cuts will be discussed at a meeting of the Education Committee on January 14.

If you would like to support our campaign to save the trust from cutbacks and possible closure, write to Patrick John, The News Shopper, Mega House, Crest View Drive, Petts Wood, BR5 1BT.