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Elton fan slams stadium’s poor access

Natasha Didenko
Natasha Didenko Image credit: walesonline.co.uk

A disabled Elton John fan has blasted Swansea.com stadium for their appalling services after she went to see his concert last month.

Natasha Didenko (pictured above) and three family members went to see the Rocket Man singer on June 29 as part of a ‘ladies night out’ but the night was ruined by the lack of accessible facilities.

The 36-year-old, who has experienced mobility difficulties since undergoing surgery in 2020, pre booked a car parking space for £20, but upon arrival all the accessible bays were full with six being taken up with an unstaffed cherry picker.

The party, which also included members with arthritis, eventually found a space in the accessible car park situated on the stadium’s western side and walked to the south gate where they were directed to the north gate entrance. But when they reached the north gate the family, along with a group of around 30 disabled people, were redirected back to the south gate. After arriving at the south gate for a second time they were told they had to go back to the north gate.

"We got to the northern gate for a second time and there were around 30 of us just standing outside refusing to move and begging for assistance, we were exhausted and in pain and nobody seemed to know what they were doing," Didenko told Wales Online. "There was no separate entrance or exit for wheelchair or mobility-impaired users and it got to the point where we just had to stand outside the gate and demand to be let in. There were people in wheelchairs and crutches and they expected them to go back and forth."

"The treatment was completely inhumane, the lack of assistance, the forgetfulness with no signposting and misuse of pre-booked accessible parking, I believe shows a lack of compassion, responsibility and care.”

Didenko said staff were in contact with each other between the gates which were locked behind them after they made their way to the other side of the stadium.

"It was humiliating, we were made to feel lesser and it is a direct act of discrimination, in this day and age it was completely unacceptable" she argued

The Elton fan was made "to feel worthless and inferior in comparison to able-bodied human-beings" because of the crowded one-way system in place at the end of the concert.

Didenko said it took her almost an hour to walk around the stadium from the accessible car park to the entrance and she needed eight breaks after suffering “physical pain” which she was still experiencing the following day.

"I just wanted to make people aware of the accessibility issues that were present on the day, we should not have been treated in such an inhumane way and I hope measures are taken to help resolve this for the future. The behaviour and conditions put onto the disabled community and their carers through the whole concert was incomprehensible," she claimed.

"If Elton John is ever made aware of how much pain and distress a large group of his fan base have been through, then hopefully he’ll refuse to work with any of the organisations again."

A statement from a Swansea City spokesperson said: “We are disappointed to hear about an alleged negative experience at the Elton John concert at the Swansea.com Stadium. Accessibility and mobility issues were an integral part of the planning process for this event. An accessible entry lane was clearly advertised in advance to assist those with disability or mobility needs.

“An additional accessibility lane was also created at another entrance gate to offer further assistance to customers and was monitored throughout with queues at a minimum. To assist customers, the stadium provided disability liaison stewards whose sole purpose at the event was to help any concert-goer that required additional assistance.

“We acknowledge that a small number of disabled car parking spaces were allocated to the production of the show. However, to mitigate this we offered customers the opportunity to purchase over 100 accessible parking spaces on-site. Any customers who registered an accessible requirement for this event were afforded priority to purchase.

“We pride ourselves on being an inclusive venue that is accessible to all guests for every event that we host.”

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour consists of over 300 dates worldwide.