All those piling in on the RSPBA regarding the difficulties over the ‘missing majors’ should have a close read at this statement from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the body that speaks for our local councils:
‘The Scottish Government has delivered a major blow to communities and has put councils at financial risk with a cash cut to local government. It will mean cuts in every community in Scotland and job losses across Scottish local government.’
By the Editor
You can see why pipe band championships are at the back of the funding queue as far as these councils are concerned.
If there is to be criticism of the RSPBA it is that they did not read the runes. Their dependency model whereby major championships were pitched at local authorities was sustainable only so long as said authorities had cash to spare.
Anyone following the political shenanigans here in Scotland over the past two years would have seen that this model was heading for the rocks and got their contingencies ready.
Failure to do so has left us where we are now. Last week’s statement from RSPBA Chairman Kevin Reilly shows that fall backs, already proposed in these pages, are being seriously considered:
‘The Board of Directors are working hard to find alternative solutions for the three Major Championships yet to be confirmed. We are exploring a number of different options, and discussions are currently ongoing with various parties to secure a solution.
‘One option being actively explored is building a Major Championship on an already established local contest. A number of suitable events have been identified and discussions are currently underway to agree the feasibility of this option. We hope to be able to confirm the position in the New Year.’
This is one, doable, solution, but can three majors be spread over all the minors? Perhaps not impossible but a lot of planning will be needed.
Nothing should be off the table, and the bands, the people that really matter in this crisis, need to hector their branches and representatives. Let them know that you demand these ‘missing majors’ go ahead. Impress on them that you are not expecting all the best facilities or prize money, just that the 2024 championships, UK, British and European have to happen.
If they don’t there will be a direct impact on the two majors we do have confirmed. A first run through at Dumbarton and then two weeks later the Worlds? How will that maintain standards and interest when compared to the momentum build of previous years? We all know the answer.
So let us keep the pressure and the campaign moving. The BBC’s report on the problem (above), also last week, has alerted the wider public. The story was picked up by the national press too.
As I said in my comments to the Beeb: ‘The pipe band movement brings millions of pounds every year into the Scottish economy, yet here we have a situation whereby these events can’t be put on because of a lack of money.’
Once more the pipe band movement is being short-changed. We can stand and watch the demise of a once great tradition or we can do something about it on our own terms. Hit those phones, write those letters, get to the branch meetings.
All is not lost. There is still hope, but time is getting short.