Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena and ticketing partner Eventim are considering changes to their ticketing system to better accommodate disabled fans.
Following several complaints about the process for gaining accessibility tickets to comedian Peter Kay’s upcoming tour, the 11,000-capacity venue and Eventim could change their controversial booking system.
Customers who needed easy access to the venue could only apply for tickets by phoning a dedicated phone line. According to the Chronicle Live news website, some disabled fans were placed on hold for an hour before the line went dead.
David Bryce, disability and equalities officer for Gateshead constituency Labour party, has complained to the Equalities Commission. He said he rang the phone line and was left waiting for 57 minutes at 40p per minute, before someone answered and immediately put the phone down.
He said: “My gripe is this is a potential equalities issue here because disabled people are being denied services that able-bodied people have access to.
“This really boils my blood because many thousands of disabled people across the country will be in exactly the same position and forced to ring an expensive telephone number, costing them a small fortune if ringing from a mobile.”
A spokeswoman for the Arena said: “Peter Kay on sale saw unprecedented phenomenal demand for tickets across the entire UK. Sheer demand for tickets meant all means of purchasing tickets were exceptionally busy with additional dates being added instantly to accommodate fans.
“The Metro Radio Arena offers a dedicated phone line for our accessible customers, which was staffed for high demand, as well as an email address, which customers have successfully used to secure tickets for these sold out events.
“The Metro Radio Arena provides complimentary tickets to personal assistants and does not ask for proof of disability. This is one of reasons why accessible seats are not currently available to book online but we are working with our ticketing partners to provide this solution in the future.
“We are also looking to secure alternative telephone numbers for guests to call which would reduce the costs incurred through mobile phone network access charges.”
Image: Gunnar Larsson