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Brass band sues council after gold-braided uniforms worth £14k are thrown in the bin

Wales Online logo Wales Online 14/01/2020 Elizabeth Bradfield
a close up of a suitcase: Some of the band's uniforms can be seen here draped over pews in the old Methodist chapel which now forms part of the Bethania Community Centre © Heather Byrd Some of the band's uniforms can be seen here draped over pews in the old Methodist chapel which now forms part of the Bethania Community Centre

Brass band members are suing a town council after their highly prized gold-braided uniforms were apparently thrown in the bin by mistake.

The Glynneath and District Silver Band put the distinctive clothing into storage at a local community centre 15 years ago during a hiatus.

But last year, as plans were hatched to reform the group, members discovered that 27 hand-stitched jackets with epaulettes, waistcoats and bowties had disappeared.

The trustees said it would cost £14,000 to replace the uniforms with similar ones and have made a claim against a local town council for compensation to buy new ones, and for their legal costs.

Billy Shulver, the band’s former secretary and an ex miner who spent 50 years underground, said: “We had permission from Glynneath Town Council to store them at the (community) centre.

a group of people sitting posing for the camera: Billy Shulver, the band’s former secretary, with fellow trustees Ray Jones and John Evans who is both a Glynneath town councillor and the band's former manager © LDRS Billy Shulver, the band’s former secretary, with fellow trustees Ray Jones and John Evans who is both a Glynneath town councillor and the band's former manager

“The council wouldn’t tell us anything at first, I then found out they’d been dumped and I was told it was because they were all rotten.”

The band was originally formed in 1888 and has won numerous championships over the decades.

In the early nineties it disbanded but then reformed in 1996, going onto win the Welsh Regional Championships for three consecutive years.

In 2005, the band folded again and a number of instruments and uniforms were put into the Bethania Community Centre, a former Methodist chapel, for safekeeping.

The last November, plans were hatched to get the group up and running again.

However, former band manager John Evans discovered the uniforms were missing during a visit to the old chapel to collect some of the instruments to take to local schools.

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He said: “I called the police immediately and the officer came and said she couldn’t find any sign of a forced entry.

“It wasn’t their (the town council's) property, they had no right to throw them away whatsoever.

“We had a letter saying they would be safe in the chapel.

“The uniforms were dusty but they could have been dry-cleaned.”

The trustees are now concerned about the remaining instruments left in the centre and its sheet music - saying the items are also worth thousands of pounds.

a room filled with furniture and a large window: The Glynneath Silver Band's uniforms were kept in the chapel of the Bethania Community Centre © Heather Byrd The Glynneath Silver Band's uniforms were kept in the chapel of the Bethania Community Centre

They argue the town council is refusing to let them into the chapel due on "health and safety grounds" - but claimed a local community group had been given access to get their nativity set.

The main body of the chapel has not been open to the public for several years due to large cracks in the ceiling.

The town council’s Independent mayor Simon Knoyle said: “All I can say at this stage is there is an ongoing case with regards to the Silver Band uniforms and it is with Glynneath Town Council’s insurance company.”

He added: “People can have access to the body of the chapel so long as they’ve signed a permit and they’ve got appropriate personal protective equipment on, and they’re accompanied by me.”

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