Free Pleasure Beach entry for carers and disabled

DISABLED people are to get into Blackpool Pleasure Beach for free in the wake of a massive furore over the fun park's controversial £20 entrance fee.

Bosses now say disabled people and their carers will be allowed free entry, providing they do not go on any rides.

Earlier this week, The Gazette revealed the park was implementing the charge to enter the park throughout October - including the busy half-term week.

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The fee gives visitors unlimited access to rides and access to a show.

But after concerns were raised by disabled people and councillors, officials have now announced a concession.

A Pleasure Beach spokesman said: "Disabled guests who do not wish to ride will be issued with an entry pass to access the park for free.

"Likewise, carers accompanying disabled guests will also be issued an entry pass to access the park if they do not wish to ride."

Stephen Brookes, the vice-chairman of the Blackpool Equality Forum, who called Blackpool Council and the park to raise his objections, said: "I applaud them for re-thinking their decision.

"I believed the fee was in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act if they were to carry on as they were so I stuck my oar in.

"They totally failed to consult people first and I think they should have spoken to people in the community."

Mr Brookes claimed when he first spoke to the park, a member of staff merely referred him to a statement which said only children under one metre were exempt from paying the charge.

Disabled mum Alison Stowe also told The Gazette yesterday that she too would have to pay 20.

Pleasure Beach today claimed the concession for disabled people was not a new one, and not a U-turn.

But Mrs Stowe said: "That's not what they told me yesterday."

A further statement by the park said the new 20 charge was "a price promotion," which they believed would be "a fantastic success".

"It's something we have done during our Winter Weekends which proved incredibly successful and we've decided to repeat it," said Pleasure Beach spokeswoman Gill Matheson.

"We believe it will be a big success again."

A 15 charge was brought in to access the park during one week last December. Bosses defended the decision then because of the extensive theming – such as the Snow Queen's Kingdom and in-park entertainment.

Park bosses have refused to speak to The Gazette about the new entrance fee.

David Cam, company secretary said: "We've said all we have to say."

The Pleasure Beach's traditional free-to-enter policy is to come to an end next year when visitors will have to either buy an Unlimited Ride Wristband or a 5 Freedom Pass to enter the park.

>> Backlash to Pleasure Beach's controversial 20 plans

>> Pleasure Beach to charge 20 entrance fee