Dorking theatre refuses carer's ticket to wheelchair user

Eleni Stephani and Philip Nicol
Image caption Philip Nicol said he and his partner Eleni Stephani cared for each other

A disabled man has criticised a theatre in Surrey after he was refused a free carer's ticket for his girlfriend because she also uses a wheelchair.

Philip Nicol, from Reigate, said after buying tickets for an act at Dorking Halls Theatre, staff phoned him back.

He was told if his partner could not help him in an emergency she was not a carer.

Mole Valley District Council defended the decision and said his partner was not entitled to a free ticket.

Mr Nicol, 48, who has a condition called Adrenomyeloneuropathy which has left him unable to walk, said he had been left feeling "useless".

He said he and his partner had used the theatre before and had been granted a free ticket.

'Role of a carer'

"They do not understand the disability issue at all," he said.

"My partner cares for me when I suffer mood swings and tiredness with my condition."

David Howell, portfolio holder for assets at the council, which runs the theatre, said: "A customer with a disability who needs a carer's help is always entitled to a free ticket for the carer.

"However, our staff were then told that the person accompanying this customer was also a wheelchair user. It was felt they could not fulfil the role of a carer within the building, especially in an emergency.

"So in this situation they could not be classed as a carer and could not be offered free admission."

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