Outrage after disabled woman "had to crawl to seat" at Victoria Theatre Kasabian gig

Kimberly felt let down by her treatment.
Kimberly felt let down by her treatment.

A mother has expressed the horror of having to watch her disabled daughter crawl to her seat after wheelchair users were left uncatered for at Friday’s Kasabian gig.

Julia Hopkins had attended the concert with regular gig-goer and Kasabian superfan Kimberly O’Leary and left outraged at treatment she said made her daughter feel like “an irrelevant inconvenience.”

Kimberly has watched Leicester rockers Kasabian at venues all over the UK.

Kimberly has watched Leicester rockers Kasabian at venues all over the UK.

She said seven or eight wheelchair users were shepherded around the venue as staff panicked in trying to find a suitable place for them to be positioned.

“It was disgusting,” Julia said, “we’d been moved from the front of the stage to the side and then to the back, where of course all wheelchair users could see was people’s backsides.

“Then we were taken upstairs and my daughter had to crawl on her hands and knees in order to get to her seat.

"She'd been looking forward to it and it was like someone had poured a bucket of cold water on her. It was so disappointing.

“In this day and age provisions should be made for disabled people. In my eyes, it's nothing short of discrimination.”

Calderdale Council’s Theatres and Cultural Programmes Manager Tim Fagan admitted the venue’s culpability for a lack of access.

He said: “We apologise unreservedly for the level of service provided to a number of wheelchair users who attended last Friday’s gig at the Victoria Theatre. All of these customers have been offered a full refund and I will be contacting each customer personally to offer apologies.

“Staff at the Victoria Theatre do all they can to overcome accessibility issues sometimes encountered by the limitations of this old building. We have a long and proud track record of enabling access to a Victorian venue.

“On this occasion, due to the boisterous nature of the standing crowd, the usual positions allocated for wheelchair users were not suitable and we worked with the promoter of the gig and the wheelchair users to find alternative space.

“After trying alternative solutions it was agreed that the best location for an enjoyable experience would be seats in the circle and appropriate seating was quickly found. However, due to the age and complex layout of the building, there is not currently wheelchair access to this area, so our security company had to help wheelchair users to their seats.”

Mr Fagan said that Theatre bosses were exploring their options in how to make the stalls more accessible, including installing a lift.

“We acknowledge that on this occasion we were unable to provide a positive experience for wheelchair users and we are working hard to ensure that these problems are not encountered at future events.”

Read the full story in tomorrow's Easter edition of the Halifax Courier.