Six hundred pensioners in the borough have had to be put on ‘a waiting list’ for the Mayor’s Senior Citizens’ Christmas Concert after ticket demand outstripped supply.
With 12,000 residents eligible to attend and only 800 seats available in total for the two performances, the tickets were quickly snapped up, leaving literally hundreds of elderly people disappointed, councillors have heard.
Reporting on the situation to a Council committee meeting, last week, Officer Karen Hargan presented options to meet the additional demand, including the purchase of 600 seats at the Braid Annual Pantomime at a cost of £4,500-£5,000.
Not dealing with that demand would result in negative PR for Council said Mrs Hargan.
She told the meeting: “We are a victim of our own success”.
Responding, Cllr Beth Adger described the situation as “a disgrace”.
“With 12,000 eligible and seats for 800, it was a no-no from the start for people wanting to go.
“My phone has been red hot and it’s not nice phone calls. People are very, very angry,” said Cllr Adger who said a pantomime was not a suitable substitute.
“Pantomimes are for young people. I wouldn’t be interested and I’m 65, whether it’s free or not. People were expecting the Mayor’s Show and didn’t get it.”
Arts Development Officer, Rosalind Lowry pointed out that the demand for tickets outstrips supply each year, adding: “We try to make the process as fair as possible and we did our best with the budget.”
Mrs Hargan explained that this year’s tickets were offered on a pro rata basis to local groups and elected members; that each show had 300 seats allocated for local groups, 40 seats for elected members and 60 seats for individual senior citizens who are not part of organized groups.
She also stated that the event budget (£5,500) had been spent on the two concert shows and the cost of providing an alternative for those on the waiting list would have to be sourced within other existing budgets.
Looking to 2014, she said the introduction of a small charge of £5 per ticket was recommended, with money raised being donated to the Mayor’s nominated charity.
However, with councillors mixed in their opinions of the various options, it was agreed that the issue be brought back to their November monthly meeting for further discussion prior to a final decision being taken.