PARENTS IN TRIP FURY

ANGRY parents have been left out of pocket since before Christmas while waiting for the council to cough up refund cash on a cancelled school trip.

Pupils at Douglas Academy in Milngavie had been due to travel to France and Belgium at the begining of December - at a cost of £280 per child.

However, the visit was cancelled due to heavy snow and another pre-Christmas attempt to stage it had to be called off because of dangerous travelling conditions

Now, months later, furious parents have revealed they are still to receive a refund as East Dunbartonshire Council is waiting for a full settlement from its insurer.

Forty one children were booked on the trip which would have involved a visit to the Christmas markets in Lille and Bruges, and all the parents had paid the full amount - a total of £11,480.

One of the parents, Jim Gibbons, who is also an SNP councillor, said: “The trip was cancelled for very valid safety reasons because of the extreme weather conditions and the insurance company should have paid out at that point.

“Why are we waiting? Parents make great sacrifices to give their children these experiences and cannot afford to be out of pocket for this long. The money should have been refunded before Christmas.

“The teachers do a great job arranging these educational and fun trips and I have great admiration for what they take on.

“If we do not get a satisfactory result from this insurance company fast I would recommend that we name and shame them. East Dunbartonshire Council should not use them again if they do not cough up and a message would be sent out to every other council to blacklist them.”

Councillor Gibbons’ 13-year-old son Matthew was very disappointed that the trip was cancelled

However, he was lucky enough that his parents could afford to send him on another trip to Paris.

Another parent, who asked not to be named, said: “I’m absolutely disgusted that it’s taken so long to pay us the money back.

“It’s also the uncertainty of why it happened, the last letter we received from the school about this was dated March 15.

“The school has informed us that the East Dunbartonshire Council had been offered a refund of half the cost from the insurer and they had no intention of accepting this as it was unsatisfactory.

“We don’t know how they are getting on with this.”

Gerry Allen, East Dunbartonshire Council’s audit and risk manager, said: “As soon as the school realised that rescheduling the trip was not feasible, they contacted their insurers to make a claim.

“These negotiations are still on-going and the council’s legal and finance teams are progressing matters.

“We understand parents’ frustration and would like to reassure them that we also want to see an early and full settlement of the claim, and we are working on their behalf.”