A service which has helped thousands of children in Norfolk make music is to continue - expanding into Suffolk with £600,000 to spend on new instruments.

The future of Norfolk Music Hub - a partnership of organisations and schools, led by Norfolk County Council - was thrown into doubt last year.

Arts Council England, which provides money for the hubs, on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE), announced it was slashing the number of them from 118 to 43.

But Arts Council England has announced Norfolk County Council will now lead a new, combined hub for Norfolk and Suffolk, after County Hall bid to take on responsibility.

Eastern Daily Press: Young people take part in a Norfolk Music Hub eventYoung people take part in a Norfolk Music Hub event (Image: Sonya Duncan)

The council will get just over £2m from the DfE to coordinate music education, plus £660,000 to invest in new musical instruments, equipment and technology.

That will be tailored to the needs of children and young people, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.

The hub ensures children get the chance to learn musical instruments and to perform in ensembles, with public concerts.

Eastern Daily Press: Penny CarpenterPenny Carpenter (Image: Norfolk Conservatives)

Penny Carpenter, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services, said: “We are thrilled to be successful in our bid to lead the Music Hub for the children and young people of Norfolk and Suffolk.

"This funding has secured our role in music education in the county, with a specific focus on supporting those with special educational needs and those from more disadvantaged communities."

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: "Music education is enormously powerful – it can enrich young people's lives, help them connect with the people around them, and start them on the pathway to fruitful and fulfilling careers."

Brian Watkins, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, said: "It is vital that children and young people have the opportunity to access good, music education.

"Personally, I have benefitted greatly from the music service, learning to play the violin and sing in the choir.

"I welcome the news that the bid to lead the new combined Norfolk and Suffolk music has been successful, sub-par local government funding has caused many councils to make cuts to their discretionary services such as music provision, we must avoid the same fate."

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at County Hall, said: "We’ll be watching carefully to make sure this does show a genuine commitment from the county council rather than covering cuts elsewhere.

"The value of arts and culture socially, culturally and economically is much underrated by the county council."