Northern Ireland

Grand Opera House: Disability 'faked for free tickets'

Grand Opera House
Image caption Management at the Grand Opera House said the access scheme it introduced to assist people with disabilities was being used as "an opportunity to avail of free tickets"

Belfast's Grand Opera House has said it is reviewing its wheelchair access scheme, because people are pretending to be disabled to get free tickets.

At the moment, people with disabilities can get one free ticket for a carer when they pay for a seat at a show.

They are not obliged to prove that they need special access and the Grand Opera House has said it has evidence the "scheme is being misused".

Management said it was seen as "an opportunity to avail of free tickets".

The Grand Opera House introduced its Access For All membership scheme two years ago and during that period 1,200 people have signed up as members.

However, the theatre is now contacting all of those currently registered to use the scheme, to explain that a review is under way.

The letter states: "It is very disappointing to have to make any changes to the services we offer our customers, but regrettably, we have to ensure that the scheme is fit for purpose, meets the needs of those people who need it most, as well as making sure that it remains a viable option of reasonable adjustment for the Grand Opera House."

Last year, the venue issued in excess of 3,000 free tickets for carers.

The venue's management said they intend to announce details of changes by early next year.

A statement issued on behalf of the Grand Opera House said: "The scheme has been successful in the last two years, and we hope that access for the most disadvantaged members of our community continues in the future.

"We will continue to liaise with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and our in-house disability advisory group to ensure that we maximise this access for those with disabilities and will be monitoring the use of the scheme in the new year before introducing any changes."

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