A Bridlington mum claims her three-year-old disabled son was “discriminated against” after circus staff told her she had to upgrade her tickets to accommodate him.
Elyse McLeod, 24, attended the Continental Circus Berlin at Sewerby Fields with her two sons Tyler, four, and Euan, three. Euan suffers from Spastic Quadriplegia which is a form of cerebral palsy affecting the usage of his limbs, leaving him unable to walk and crawl, while the condition also prevents him from talking.
They had free tickets for the evening show, on June 1, but staff told Elyse that Euan was not able to sit on the grandstand due to fire and safety regulations and they had to upgrade to ringside seats at a cost of £4 each.
Elyse said: “We all had free tickets and I explained that he was only three so I couldn’t let him sit alone. The woman just said ‘You’ll have to pay to upgrade two seats then and the rest of the group can sit on the grandstand’. I was furious.”
Elyse, who lives on Nostell Way, paid for two upgrades for herself and Euan, leaving Tyler to sit with her sister, sister’s boyfriend and goddaughter in the grandstand.
“Why should I have to pay extra for my child to be allowed to watch the same as everyone else?” said Elyse. “We were not sitting by the ringside through choice.
“All I wanted was for my child to be able to watch the show like everyone else but instead I felt discriminated against. He can’t walk so ‘let’s charge him extra to remain in his wheelchair’.”
Elyse, who is a part-time wheelchair user due to her suffering from ME, was unhappy at splitting up the attending party and with Tyler unable to settle without his mum and brother, they left the performance at the interval.
She said: “I will have this experience with me for the rest of my life.”
Following the performance, Elyse exchanged messages with Continental Circus Berlin via their Facebook page after leaving a review of one star.
The circus said to Elyse: “We cannot apologise enough for putting you through this situation.
“We always look after people with special needs and are proud of our record in this area. However this time we have not met the high standards we set ourselves.”
John Haze, director of EU Events Corporation, who own the circus, said: “People are usually advised to call up beforehand and reserve a seat if they have special requirements. Our policy would be that a £32 ticket for ringside seats for a disabled customer to be reduced to just £7, with the same applying to their carer. On the ticket it said to arrive 45 minutes ahead of the performance beginning. In this incident, the lady and her family arrived five minutes before the show began. At no point did she ask to speak to a manager. We would never discriminate. We have offered the lady and all her family ringside seats for a future show but she has yet to accept them.”