Anger after pupils’ fire claims rejected

Our Lady's High pupils are out of pocket after fire
Our Lady's High pupils are out of pocket after fire

Families are thousands of pounds out of pocket after fire destroyed belongings in a changing room during a schools football match.

Now education bosses have been criticised for refusing to pay compensation after the blaze seven months ago and for their “poor” treatment of those involved.

Senior pupils of Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, were playing in Cumbernauld when the pavilion went up in flames.

While some boys were able to salvage clothes and bags, several had to go home still wearing their football strips.

Kieran Burke’s family filed a claim for £2,000 but they and others have been told the insurers won’t pay out for belongings. Kieran lost clothing, a phone, a watch, an expensive bag, football boots and schoolwork. A crucifix that belonged to his late grandmother was damaged beyond repair.

The pupils, including Kieran’s brother Aidan, were given new blazers by their school. Mum Eileen said she has been phoning North Lanarkshire Council and NL Leisure for months but they have been “passing the buck”. She added: “Responsibility lies with the education department. They should be compensating the children. I am now reluctant to let my children represent their school in activities as I fear they are not covered for anything untoward.”

NL Leisure said claims were rejected after investigators concluded the fire started accidentally. A spokesman said: “The fire service said the cause was a faulty phone charger.

“We sympathise with the pupils for the loss and damage of personal property. Unfortunately, the insurers have rejected the claim on the grounds of accidental cause.

“Disclaimer signage was displayed at the time of the incident in relation to theft/loss/damage to personal belongings.”

However, school council chairman Stephen Verrecchia said he has obtained a copy of the fire report which points to the pavilion blaze being started deliberately. This will be shown to NL Leisure who will be pressed to look at the issue again.

Mr Verrecchia stated: “This was a fairly traumatic event for our pupils, but they and their families have been treated poorly.

“The council response was very slow. Indeed, it was only when a formal complaint was made to council chief executive Paul Jukes that there was a response.

“Surely the council should first of all have made sure everyone was compensated and then pressed its insurers?”