THE Lancashire Sinfonietta is closing permanently after 17 years because of county council cash cuts.

Its chairman Malcolm Brown said schools, families and children would suffer because of losing a major musical resource.

Blaming County Hall politicians for giving the orchestra too little time to find other cash support, he said: “This will leave a big hole in the cultural and educational landscape of Lancashire.”

Authority cultural boss and Padiham and Burnley West councillor Marcus Johnstone said the closure was ‘sad news’, but the county council no longer had the money to support it.

The ensemble, Lancashire’s only professional chamber orchestra, formed in 1996, suspended operations in August last year as it tried to raise cash to cont-inue after the county council cut its annual grant by 80per cent from £144,000 to £28,592.

Yesterday, it finally admitted failure and announced its closure by the end of the month.

Many of the players, such as Hyndburn’s principal viola player David Aspin, were home-grown, playing for major orchestras, such as Manchester’s Hallé, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

In 2012/2013, it performed in Clitheroe, Nelson, Burnley and Accrington.

Mr Brown said: “This is a very sad time for the orchestra, its fine players and many enthusiastic fans.

“It will be a huge loss to the schools, families, and children, who are increasingly denied exposure to music by the erosion of government support for the arts.

“Had we been given more time by the county council, we might have been able to plan for other ways of funding.

“As it is, we have no choice but to close the orchestra.”

County Coun Johnstone said: “It is sad news.

“We supported them for a long time, and worked with them over an extended period to enable them to establish themselves as an independent organisation, which they did last year.

“This allowed the Sinfonietta to bid for funding from a range of bodies on an equal footing with other arts organisations.

“While we continue to support the arts, the county council is facing unprecedented cuts from central government.”