Disabled Ed Sheeran fans have demanded their money back after struggling to access Roundhay Park for his homecoming concert on Friday night.
The Yorkshire Evening Post previously reported how some ticket-holders with disabilities had been forced to leave the gig early because they felt unsafe or were unable to access the designated viewing areas after heavy rain turned the site into a mudbath on Friday evening.
Now other Friday concert-goers have come forward to slam organisers for poor management of both the crowds and the site itself.
Complaints include long walks from drop-off areas, staff who were reluctant to help people struggling in the mud, food stalls which did not accept card payments and disabled customers being directed to the wrong entrances.
"I had panic attacks in the crowd"
Sarah Mackintosh, who lives in south Leeds, suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and ended up having panic attacks during the concert because she was so worried about leaving the site.
"I was assured on the shuttle bus that I wouldn't need to walk far from the drop-off points. This was untrue - the entrance gate (B) for the Hill 60 viewing area was 20 minutes away. This was a huge challenge but eventually I made it.
"On entry, I explained my concerns about how I was going to get back after the event, but the supervisor couldn't help. Me and my daughter couldn't really enjoy the acts as we were too worried about getting home. At the end, I got myself into a panic and had breathing problems."
Sarah was told by staff that they would help her to find a taxi, but that she would have to walk down Hill 60 to The Mansion.
"I've not walked so far in nine years, this took a long time and once we reached the exit near The Mansion the staff left and I was put in the care of one security guard who was already dealing with a woman who had lost her mum. I nearly passed out and two medics came to assist, but they told me I had to walk back up Hill 60 for more treatment. It was impossible for me to climb back up."
A buggy was eventually provided to take Sarah to the taxi rank, and she arrived back home at 3am.
"The next day I was bedridden and needed my emergency steroids - I am lucky I didn't end up in hospital. I will be getting in touch with the organisers with my concerns."
"I'd be surprised if there were no injuries"
Roberta Gillum, who was visiting the gig from the Midlands, also criticised the organisation of the event, including the decision to block pedestrian access to residential streets near the park.
"Although Ed Sheeran was brilliant, the organisation was shoddy. The park was basically turned to mud and is, I assume, consequently destroyed. Nothing had been put on the ground to reduce this. The mud was thick and squelchy and many people fell, including myself, getting even more muddy! Perfect strangers were literally clinging to each other as they slid and slipped around. It was incredibly dangerous and I’d be very surprised if there were no injuries.
"None of the food stalls accepted card payments and yet the cash machines were not working.
"At the end of the show, I was walking back to a vehicle parked a few streets away from the park. The park was not lit and the road I needed was closed to pedestrians due to it being a residential area (it was only 10:15pm). I was made to walk 30 minutes through another dangerously muddy field to exit onto a street which was of course also in a residential area because where else are you going to go from the park?! It was infuriating. I hear the queues for shuttle buses were terrible too. What a shame the organisation let down such a good show!"
Lack of staff action
Angela Owen, from Manchester, said she was unlikely to attend a concert at the venue again after her experience.
"I have read the statement given by the organisers and I totally disagree that some of the chaos was due to the weather. During the evening we saw many staff stood around in groups chatting to each other and totally ignoring the stress of the general public trying to get up and down slippery hills. It was simply dangerous wherever you went. We all paid £80 per ticket for five of us and at the end of the evening when we were trying to leave, fighting through very slippery mud, drunk people, wheelchairs being pushed up hill through mud, as before there was not one single member of staff in sight. Disgusting when we are spending that amount of money. We will never go to a concert in Roundhay Park again.
"The organisers should be apologising and not making excuses."
"I've never been to an event so poorly orchestrated"
Lucy Teale went with her disabled sister. The pair were almost refused entry to the taxi drop-off point because it was reserved for Ubers.
"We arrived at Entrance A, but as we needed Hill 60 we were told we had to walk round to the entrance near Tropical World.
"Once we were there we were told by another member of staff we had to go all the way back to Entrance A as we were unable to access Hill 60 by Entrance A or B due to the stairs.
"We finally got into the arena and had to continue to walk to the Hill 60 seating point which was situated at the bottom of the stairs where we had been originally sent. Not a single member of the team knew what was going on. I ended up telling members of staff where to direct people if they were in wheelchairs and we could barely see the acts on stage.
"On leaving, they opened an exit right near the Blue Badge parking which would have been a perfect entrance for disabled attendees and would have eliminated a lot of confusion and walking. Due to limiting the taxi access to Uber only, it caused further issues in the streets and on the roads. I ended up walking from Roundhay Park pushing my wheelchair-bound sister to her home in Harehills.
"My sister and I have never been to an event so poorly orchestrated. We will not be attending an event organised by Leeds City Council and Mr Sheeran’s event team again. It really put a downer on the event, we just couldn’t seem to enjoy it."
"My mum's dignity was taken away from her"
Adam Cooper has demanded a refund for both concert tickets and shuttle bus travel for his mother Margaret and wife Helen, who had booked entry to the Hill 60 viewing area for disabled people without wheelchairs. Margaret has arthritis in both knees and cannot walk long distances.
"The shuttle bus drop-off was not as close as previously described and was at the far side of the tennis courts, so hundreds of metres from Entrance B, but Mum and Helen were prepared. They got there early and could take their time with rest stops for Mum on the way. They followed the directions given to them going along the green lane to Entrance B. The 'short hill' described was covered in mud so a lot more difficult to negotiate than it should have been.
"Eventually they got to a set of gates, where a number of people had gathered, mainly wheelchair users and their helpers. This was access for workers and backstage and they were told they would require help to get to the Hill 60 disabled area as the grass walk to Entrance B was now a mudbath and they were unable to gain access over a now very muddy bank.
"The security, stewards and even a supervisor were not particularly helpful. None were local people and they did not have any clue about the park, arena layout or access points. They just kept telling people that the access for wheelchairs was at Entrance A. This was totally opposite to everything they had been told.
"Helen had a look and thought that it was too dangerous to try and get Mum over the muddy bank and up to Entrance B. They discussed it and Mum was also worried about getting back out as by the end of the night it would be even worse. The decision was made to not try and follow the instructions given to them to go to Entrance A and head back to see if they could get a bus back to town.
"Eventually I got them home, exhausted and soaked to the skin despite the waterproofs. As I said before the weather played a major part in the 'farce' as my mum described it.
"The ticket was sold as a Disabled Viewing Area ticket yet access was not possible for the disabled and no further help or assistance offered. The weather forecast was known but no pre-emptive measures were taken to ensure that access would be possible across the muddy field such as matting.
"My mum is upset due to missing the concert and Helen is upset as she felt so bad that my mum’s (and many others) dignity had been taken from them by a poorly planned and organised event."
"He could barely stand"
Tracy Foley accompanied her father-in-law, who has cancer and a disability, to the concert. He is unable to stand for more than 15 minutes and had brought a folding chair with him.
She claimed they were made to wait in a queue for over an hour without space to erect the camping chair.
"We couldn’t put a chair up as we were closed in with no space at either side of us, my father-in-law was actually holding onto and leaning on the metal barrier as he’d started to lose feeling in his legs. I asked a member of staff if this was the right queue as my father-in-law is disabled and can’t stand for long periods of time, they said yes it’s the right queue! This is appalling, there were people with walking sticks just holding onto the rails. It wasn't not properly health and safety checked at all.
The group decided to leave early to prevent her father-in-law being caught in the crowds, but were told by a family member due to pick them up that he couldn't get to the drop-off area. They ended up walking to McDonald's in Oakwood where he was waiting for them.
"We went to ask a member of staff what was going on as our disabled chaperone couldn’t get in to collect us. He got on the radio and told us that every road into the event had been closed.
"We were panicking and really stressed as we didn’t know what to do, staff couldn’t do anything and just said we'd have to walk.
"We had no choice but to start walking, and as he’s very slow the crowds had started to come out of the event and it was manic. People everywhere and my father-in-law started being pushed around, we had to keep stopping so he could rest, and it was uphill. He was really struggling, we had to nearly carry him and support him up the hill. There were drunk people everywhere, security staff were holding people up who were so intoxicated they couldn’t even stand. One woman was wrestled to the floor by security staff as she was being extremely aggressive. It was really upsetting to see all this.
"My father-in-law has never been to a concert and I think this experience will have put him off as it was atrocious how he was treated. He was given no priority or assistance even though he was disabled."
What do the organisers say?
A joint statement from promoters Kilimanjaro, DHP Family and Futuresound was released on Saturday morning, but they have not responded to requests for further comment.
Shuttle bus operators Big Green Coach also published a detailed explanation for the transport problems on Friday evening - you can read it in full here.
"The team at Roundhay Park are working hard this morning to make repairs to the site following yesterday’s heavy rain leading up to and during Ed Sheeran’s homecoming concert.
"Nearly 70,000 people attended the show and unfortunately the appalling weather persuaded many people to travel down later, which caused queues at the shuttle bus pick-up. Already anticipating the Friday evening commute within the journey time, the buses were not able to deal with the increased peak time traffic as quickly as we would have liked.
"We have put additional measures in place for today’s service and it will benefit from the lighter Saturday traffic. We do suggest though that ticket-holders leave plenty of time to get to the park. It is also strongly recommended that people wear sturdy shoes with some grip as, although much better weather is expected today, it will likely still be somewhat muddy and uneven underfoot.
"There was also confusion from some disabled customers as to which entrance they should use for accessibility viewing locations, so we would like to reiterate that if your ticket is for Wheelchair Viewing Platforms A or B, you must arrive at the concert via Gate A which is on the lake side of the park. You should park at either Mansion Lane or the Lakeside car park for this entrance. Customers with a Hill 60 Accessible Area ticket should park on the event car parks off Princes Avenue and enter via Gate B."