A PLEA to scrap plans to charge school pupils £280-a-year for instrumental music lessons was rejected by East Lothian Council's Labour administration today.

More than 50 students from East Lothian's six secondary schools gathered with their instruments, outside Haddington Town House, to protest against the proposal.

Inside the building, the five members of the local authority's cabinet - all Labour councillors -  voted unanimously to approve the new fee.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, acting council leader, said the decision to charge was agreed as part of the administration's budget earlier this year.

Pupils who qualify for free meals would continue to receive free tuition.

There are also plans to introduce a bursary scheme for low income families and free tuition for looked after children and those using the instrument towards as SQA qualification.

Following the vote, members of the administration emerged from the Town House to jeers from the young protestors who followed them back to their office on Court Street, playing music as they marched.

Councillor Hampshire was then involved in lengthy discussions with the children outside the Labour administration's office.

Instrumental Music Instruction (IMI) is a discretionary service provided by the council and is separate to the entitlement of music being taught at schools.

IMI is currently provided, for free, to P4 to S6 pupils  in a variety of instruments. In total, more than 1,200 pupils are using the service across primary and secondary schools.

A petition has been launched in opposition to the move and has attracted more than 3,000 signatures.