FEARS have been raised over the future of a popular naval band in Portsmouth.
A member from the HMS Nelson Volunteer Band has contacted The News claiming the organisation is set to be axed at the end of the year.
The group, which has more than 30 members, provides music for official and social navy functions as well as a range of charity and community events.
The band member says the decision was made in August by the head Royal Marines Band Service as part of a restructuring proposal.
The source, who wished to remain anonymous, added: ‘The navy is to dissolve the dockyard band at the end of the year, despite continued assertions from middle ranking representatives that this is an unfounded rumour.
‘Discussions have been held to outline the case for and against the proposal, but no moves have been made to rescind the decision to discontinue the band operation from the end of the year.
‘Evidence of the value of the group to navy and local organisations through its 50-plus engagements this year have brought no reprieve, neither has the evidence that individuals provide and maintain their own instruments and are therefore not a drain on public resources.’
But the navy has categorical denied there are any such plans to axe the band.
A spokesman for the city’s naval base said there had been a recent restructuring of how the organisation works.
But he insisted this change in structure was not designed to close the volunteer group.
‘Portsmouth Naval Base is reviewing the management of the HMS Nelson Volunteer Band and, due to operational reasons, its musical director will no longer be a member of the Royal Marines Band Service,’ the navy official said.
‘However, the naval base and the Royal Navy recognises and values the contribution the band makes to the local community and every effort will be made for the band to continue.’
The group has been in operation for more than 20 years.
It is made up predominantly of civilian musicians but has a number of ex-navy staff in its ranks too.
They have performed in the Falklands and at the Lord Mayor’s Parade, in London.