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22 October 2014, 12:32
The Belfast Grand Opera House is reviewing its policy for disabled access following reports that concertgoers have been pretending to be disabled to get free tickets.
The Grand Opera House's 'Access For All' scheme began in 2012 and allows disabled people to bring one carer with them free of charge. In 2013 alone, over 3,000 free tickets were issued to carers.
Currently, disabled people are not required to prove their disability in order to obtain a free ticket for their carer, and the Grand Opera House's management has admitted that the system is being abused by people pretending to be disabled, saying they have evidence that the "scheme is being misused."
Anyone signed up to the 'Access For All' scheme has been sent a letter announcing changes in the way the scheme will now work:
"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."
The changes themselves are expected to be clarified in early 2015:
"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."