A father’s rant on Facebook about price hikes in school holidays has led to the topic being discussed in Parliament.
Paul Cookson ranted on the social network about being “sick to death” of “rip off” charges after trying to book a holiday with his daughter.
He formed a Facebook group called Holiday Price Increase which encouraged people to share their stories of extortionate holiday price hikes over school holidays. This led to more than 160,000 signatures on an e-petition posted on the page to request the topic to be debated in the House of Commons.
The number of signatures is well over the 100,000 required to instigate a parliamentary debate. The Commons Backbench Committee has now agreed to debate the issue in Westminster Hall on 24th February.
Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who proposed the debate, told the BBC it was a “big issue for parents”.
The MP for Birmingham Yardley added: “The problem is half-terms all tend to be the same, leading to a very big demand for holidays all at the same time. And reducing the flexibility of people to take their children out of school adds to that.”
Prior to the Facebook rant, the e-petition, originally set up by mum-of-two Donna Thresher in March 2013, had only a few signatures.
Cookson told the BBC that the petition’s call for price regulation might not be successful, but it could increase the chances of tour operators changing their policies: “The ideal is to work with the holiday companies directly to advise them on the business of reduced-priced holidays in these set times – it can be done”.
New rules that make it harder for parents to take their children out of school during term time, came in to force last September. One couple were fined £1,000 for taking their children on holiday.