Accessibility for concerts at Roundhay Park in Leeds
I am surprised that they have concerts at Roundhay park as it really doesn’t seem geared up for a large concert. Maybe it was just my experience, but I don’t think I would go to another concert at Roundhay Park.
I had tickets for Ed Sheeran, he also did a concert the night before and it was reading about people’s experiences of this concert that really got me worried.
Firstly, the day of the 1st concert was really wet and would not be nice for any outside event, I saw tweets about people falling and someone even slipped and broke their leg. There are some grassy hills in the park, and these turned into mud slides. Now I know this was not the fault of the organisers but its England and it rains a lot so should a concert for 80,000 people be put on in this park?
Secondly there seemed to be a problem with the bus company that was commissioned to undertake the shuttle service. #Edsheeranleeds was trending on twitter and it was not good tweets about how amazing Ed was but about people having to queue for 2plus hours to even get on a bus to the park and lots missed the supporting act only just getting to the park in time for Ed Sheeran.
Thirdly Roundhay Park is really not accessible. Now I don’t know if it’s the design of the park or the people that set up the accessibility for the concert, but it was the worse event I have been to regarding accessibility and this is now my 3rd concert in a park. I will go into this in a bit as I have so many complaints regarding this that if you have accessible issues I would say think really carefully before booking to see a concert in Roundhay park and you really need to weigh up if its worth it.
So, after reading the disaster from Friday nights concert we were very apprehensive about the Ed Sheeran concert on Saturday night.
Getting to Roundhay Park
We were travelling from Stockport which is about 60 miles from Leeds. We had looked at staying at a hotel in Leeds but the cheapest was 3x the normal price and I don’t like being ripped off. Even when we went to London Hyde Park to see Robbie Williams the hotels had not added extra onto the price.
Luckily, we had a friend in the area who said we could stay, this was a 20 minutes’ drive from Roundhay Park. We left Stockport at 11am and there were no hold ups on the motorway this gave us time to relax a little at our friend’s house.
The first act started at 5.45pm according to the program so we decided to leave at 3pm to give us plenty of time.
We were driving as I wanted to park in the accessible parking area and I was so worried about the shuttle buses. I was not going to risk trying to get one of those.
To be honest I don’t think there was much of an issue getting into Roundhay Park, yes it took us about 1 hour to go 2 miles but that understandable when they hold a concert that’s not in a concert venue as there will be traffic issues.
Most of the side roads were closed, we noticed people had started parking about 3 miles from Roundhay Park and walking. I can’t walk that far so we decided to drive to the park and see what parking was like there before worrying about it.
To be fair the car park was large and there would have been no issues in finding a parking space even when we left it didn’t seem that full. It cost £15 to park but it was free for accessible parking which we didn’t know until we got there.
Getting into Roundhay Park
This is where the issues with accessibility started. The queue for accessible tickets and some other wrist bands was at a separate gate and was not moving. People who had normal tickets were getting in very quickly.
We were told there was an issue with the scanning machine at the gate we were stood at which was causing the delay. We could not move to another gate as they were separated into where you bought your ticket from i.e ticket master or see tickets and I bought mine from a dedicated accessible ticket hotline so this is the only queue I could join.
Some of the security staff in this line had no compassion for people with extra needs and to be honest that is what this queue was for. Not all disabilities are visible and if someone needs to purchase a disabled ticket, they know what their needs and limits are.
I have problems walking or standing for long periods. I was told to get my chair out and sit on it which I could not do as we were stood in a queue and I would have felt rather silly sitting there.
I don’t know what ticket other people in the line had but I only noticed one couple with the brown accessible wrist band on that we had.
One girl who also had the accessible wrist band mentioned to the security that she could not stand for long, she was told to go and speak to another security person who then decided to tell us in the queue after she walked away, what her issues were and why he had told her to join the back of the queue.
Apparently, she said that she could not stand for long as she had a heart condition and might collapse if she had to wait any longer in the queue. The security person told her and he quoted this back to us “if you think you are then you probably will as its then all in your head” no wonder the girl got annoyed with him I don’t think he should have spoken to her like this.
I really struggled to stand for 20 minutes in this queue I had my walking stick and my chair so I used them to prop myself up and my limitations are not as bad as others so I can totally understand her concerns about standing in this long disorganised queuing system.
I have never had to queue as long as I did at this park for a concert, I understand there was an issue with the scanning machine but there should have been a process in place for people who cannot stand for long.
Accessibility at Roundhay Park
I am fully aware that the concert is in a park and it is not designed for accessibility or for concert but the people organising the concert needs to take this into account and put things into place.
This is not an accessible park for people to attend a concert. It seemed that the accessible platform was at the top of the hill and I understand they could not have placed it further on the hill as there would then have been issues for people getting into the area but it meant that people who had standard tickets for standing were then right on the hill in front of the accessible area and this meant that no one could see anything.
Luckily we were seeing Ed Sheeran and he is not a type of artist that you have to see as he is not dancing or putting on so much of an act and I was happy to just listen (if we could hear that’s another problem I will talk about in a minute) but the people in wheelchairs just couldn’t see anything and some of them were getting upset over this.
The sound didnt work very well in the Park. We didnt hear most of the supporting act Lewis Capaldi as the speakers were not working they did come on for his last song but then went off again.
Luckily sound improved a little bit when Ed Sheeran came on but it was still not the best again I understand we are in a park but when you pay a lot of money and the tickets were nearly £90 you do want to hear something especially if you can not see anything. The speakers next to the accessible area didnt work.
The major issue for me was the toilets. There were no designated toilets for the disabled area I went and asked a group of security men who said there was no disabled toilets, I then went to the information desk they said the disabled toilets were on the lower level for people who didn’t have accessible tickets which just seemed silly to me.
I know there were people at the concert that didn’t have accessible tickets and were in wheelchairs and I could understand that they needed to have some disabled toilets down on that level but to not have any by the accessible area or even near by was just something I didn’t get.
I said I have issues with the toilet and once I need to go I need to go (I was planning ahead don’t worry I was not stood there finding this out whilst I was dying for the loo) they said there is nothing they can do maybe I could ask people in the queue if I could go in front of them.
This would have been very embarrassing, and I could imagine pissing (ha-ha get it) a lot of people off if I was asking to go in front of them.
I did see one man in a wheelchair who had to have his friend pull his chair as the wheels couldn’t cope with the mud by the toilets to a cubicle for him to use.
Would I go to another concert at Roundhay Park the answer is no not unless the facilities improve a lot for accessibility.
Come on guys its 2019 there should not be limitations for disabled people to attend concerts!!