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Bolton 'holiday fine' hotspot, with more fines issued here than anywhere else in GTR Manchester

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

With lockdown easing and the holiday industry starting to get back on its feet, many families will be thinking of planning their next getaway.

But families should think twice before whisking their children away on holiday during term time after new figures show thousands of mums and dads across Bolton were fined last year for unauthorised absences.

Figures reveal more holiday fines were issued in the borough than anywhere else in Greater Manchester.

A staggering 3,918 penalty notices were issued to parents for taking their child on holiday during term time last year.

Bolton was number two in the North West for the high number of ‘holiday fines’ issued, only Lancashire had more ­— 8,901.

Fines for missing school have rocketed in Bolton rising from 1,114 in 2014/15 to 4,703 in the last academic year.

And of the 4,000 plus issued in 2018/19, 3,918 were for going on holiday during school time. This compares to just 426 holiday fines being issued in Wigan.

The majority of fines of £60 were paid within the 28 day period, 3,287 ­— after which the fine rises to £120.

The number of parents being taken to court for non-payment has fallen from 124 to 61 in five years.

And the Government figures also revealed that out of the 754 fines withdrawn by the council, 353 were because the local authority did not wish to bring legal proceedings for payment after the fine went unpaid after 28 days.

Other fines were withdrawn for a number of reasons including it contain errors.

Penalty notices for skipping class without permission have been suspended because of the pandemic.

But yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it will be compulsory for children to return to school in September this year - and could face fines if they don’t comply.

With holiday companies reporting a huge spike in bookings for later in the year as travel restrictions ease, the figures serve as a warning to anyone thinking of keeping their child off school next term

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “From September 2018, the threshold for issuing a penalty notice was reduced from 20 missed sessions (10 days) per term to 10 sessions (5 days).

“This move was taken after consultation with headteachers and brings us in line with the majority of other local authority areas.

“We are committed to ensuring young people in Bolton receive a good education with minimal disruption, and this is reflected in the number of penalty notices issued over this period.

“During this period, Bolton saw a reduction in both persistent absences and absences overall.

“Any money generated from penalty notices is invested back into the department to fund schemes aimed at improving attendance.”

The figures are revealed as the holiday industry starts to take bookings again.

Thousands of hopeful holidaymakers have rushed to book trips abroad as foreign breaks were given the green light with quarantine measures set to be dropped for some destinations.

The requirement to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the UK will be scrapped for many popular destinations, meaning trips to France, Greece and Spain are now options for desperate parents willing to risk a fine.

This has also caused a new surge in people booking holidays with firms like Eurotunnel Le Shuttle who have drafted in new staff to deal with the numbers.

In place of the quarantine arrangements, there will be a traffic light system, with officials placing countries into green, amber and red categories based on the significance of the virus in each place.

The list of quarantine-free countries is due to be published on Wednesday, with restrictions lifted as soon as July 6.

Tui is resuming its holiday programme by serving eight destinations, as long as Government travel restrictions are eased. EasyJet is to launch hundreds more international flights. From the start of next month, it will run around 500 flights each day across Europe, including over 900 flights a week to and from the UK.


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