Leeds parking ‘ransom’ row as opera fans pay twice

A scene from Giulio Cesare by Opera North.
A scene from Giulio Cesare by Opera North.
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Scores of theatre-goers say they were held to ransom and forced to pay twice to exit a Leeds car park.

Dozens of Opera North ticket holders, who had been to see an evening performance of Giulio Cesare at the Grand Theatre on Saturday, were stopped from leaving St John’s Shopping Centre car park unless they paid again.

Drivers had pre-bought parking tickets at a discounted price of about £4. But these passes failed to work at the exit barrier, and a car park attendant demanded they each pay a further £6 to leave.

Now the YEP can reveal that each Opera North winter season ticket holder, who was affected on Saturday night, will be refunded.

Retired solicitor Ann O’Brien, from Shadwell, who had a discounted ticket, said: “I couldn’t understand what was happening.

“I saw people talking to a man rather heatedly. When I came to the [car park] barrier I put in my ticket and nothing happened.

“I was told I had to pay £6 cash. Any sensible person would have checked our tickets and seen we had already paid.

“We were being held to ransom. It was late, so I decided to pay and then reclaim the money.

“I emailed but heard nothing back other than they were investigating.”

The YEP can reveal the discounted ticket scheme was set up by Opera North with NCP, who operated the car park until December 31.

Q-Park took over the lease on January 1, but were not told about the arrangement with the theatre company.

A spokeswoman for NCP has now apologised for the “miscommunication”, confirming those affected are to be refunded.

Opera North had 800 winter season subscribers, 200 of which had bought advanced car parking.

It is likely some of those tickets have not yet been used for up-and-coming performances of Giulio Cesare, Norma and Madam Butterfly.

The NCP spokeswoman said all Opera North subscriberscan use outstanding parking tickets at the Schofields car park on Albion Street.

A Q-Park spokeswoman said Opera North customers would continue to benefit from discounts at St John’s on future ticket purchases.

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