PROM season is in full swing and the cost of sending children out into the world with one last hurrah seemingly spiralling out of control with new hair-dos, make-up, dinner suits, ball gowns and, of course, limos... the Echo asks, are proms are getting too pricey?

YES - By Nicky Thirkettle, parent from Rayleigh

“ONE of my daughters has just had her Year 11 prom at FitzWimarc and prices can get out of control.

“I think it depends on parents, but others have let it get out of hand.

“If you have parents who have the money and can afford to spend a bigger budget, then they will do.

“It is important we only spend what we can afford though and keep within our own budgets, not to get caught up with ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.

“You will always get the people who have the money to spend and their kids will turn up in a horse and carriage or something special – you have to do what you can afford though.

“I think that can put people under pressure to spend beyond their means, which is not good.

“It’s not the ticket for the prom, which was only £15 to £20 at FitzWimarc – it’s everything else that goes with it.

“For girls, it’s the dress, shoes, bag, hair, nails, maybe fake tan, then a limo as well – it all adds up.

“People go out and spend £500 just on a dress which they will probably only wear for a few hours.

“Then there’s the after-party as well. Kids are bursting to leave the prom because the after-party will have booze, but that might cost as well.

“I guess we’re lucky we’re both working and can afford to spend a bit, but we didn’t go overboard and it was still costing hundreds of pounds for one night.

“It’s great for children to have that special night to say goodbye to some people they may never see again, but people should not feel pressured to spend more than they want to.”

NO - By Mark Stevens, runs American Limos, in Sutton Road, Southend

“A SCHOOL prom is as important as your first baby scan picture.

“It follows on from the first school picture, then the prom picture, followed by the wedding picture.

“For the children finishing school, it is a way of celebrating the final days of their first stage of life.

“They are with close friends who might be going in different directions and it’s a moment to remember.

“Also, the parents have been at the school meetings and trips and other events, so for them it is just as important as it is for the children.

“So they like to dress them up, like it is at the Oscars.

“When the limousine departs, they have their pictures as a memory of their school and of their friends.

“Also the teacher will be all dressed up, men in dinner suits and ladies in a ball gown. For the teachers it is about saying goodbye to five years of helping each child to grow as an adult.

“How can you put a cost on this?

“Parents with lower earnings have to spread the cost out compared to parents with more money, because all parents want their children to be the same – looking fantastic on the big day of their prom.

“We are blessed to live in Southend, where we can use the seafront for our pictures, as this is a beautiful setting for children going to their prom to have photos taken and say goodbye to the first stage of their lives.”