Published: May 31, 2000

RSPBA National Council Votes 5-4 to Keep L&B Police in Grade 2

At a meeting of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s National Council on May 6 in Glasgow, it was decided by a vote of 5-4 that the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band would in fact remain in Grade 2, where it had been demoted to after the 1999 season.

Piper & Drummer Online has learned that six National Council members abstained from voting.

It had been recommended in April that the band be returned to Grade 1 after a special audition by members of the RSPBA’s Music Board. That recommendation was overruled by the National Council, the organization’s governing body.

Lothian & Borders Police, one of the world’s oldest pipe bands having established itself as the Edinburgh City Police over a hundred years ago, has never competed in any grade but the highest. The band enjoyed a windfall of talent last fall with the addition of Colin MacLellan as Pipe Major, Arthur Cook as leading drummer and assorted experienced Grade 1 personnel throughout the ranks.

“It would appear that the vast majority of pipe band members, in Scotland in any case, were in total agreement that the downgrading of L&B was the correct action to take for a band that had performed so abysmally in the preceding two seasons,” said one person close to the situation. “In fact at the end of the 1999 season they had performed worse than the other three bands that were also downgraded.”

Others are less sanguine. Said one piper supporting L&B’s return to Grade 1, “How can it be that premier musicians appointed by the RSPBA to assess the playing standard of the band can be overruled by a group made up of mostly non-players?”

The National Council allegedly based its decision largely on the Music Board not being able to “guarantee” the band would win every Grade 2 competition in which it played. Comprising mainly non-players, the RSPBA Millennium Group’s New Year report has recommended that the National Council be replaced by an altogether different management structure.

The Lothian & Borders Police will make its historic first appearance in Grade 2 at Dunbar on May 13.

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