Locals take dim view after free Shard tickets reserved for residents put on eBay
Locals hit the roof as outsiders lift free passes
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Friday 21 December 2012
A ticket giveaway for people living in the shadow of the Shard has misfired - with many local residents disappointed after free passes were snapped up by “outsiders” and posted on eBay.
Western Europe’s tallest building, on the South Bank of the Thames in London, is due to open to tourists on 1 February. “The View from The Shard” will be one of the most expensive observation decks in the world, with on-the-day tickets for a family of four costing more than £100.
Over the past two days, the company has given away 4,000 preview tickets through libraries in the London Borough of Southwark. Applicants were supposed to provide proof of residence in return for four free tickets per person. But after queuing fruitlessly for an hour or more, angry locals said the giveaway was botched – with non-residents able to claim tickets.
The race to the top began at 5.30am on Wednesday outside the venue closest to the Shard – John Harvard Library in Borough. By the time the library opened at 9am, the queue stretched for a quarter of a mile. Rumours spread that the queue at Walworth Road library, a mile away, was shorter, and some people abandoned the line in Borough.
The first person to get tickets for the 1,016ft view was Steve Lodge, a community nurse. “I’m frozen, but it was worth it,” he said.
With libraries across Southwark keeping different hours, some people made multiple attempts to get tickets. Three hours after the first tickets were handed out, some were being sold on eBay. Melissa Nelson, a civil servant queuing in the rain outside Camberwell Library yesterday morning, said it was “very shocking and disappointing” that the tickets were being sold.
A spokesperson for The View from The Shard said: “Anyone in possession of these tickets should be prepared to show their proof of residence in Southwark when they arrive.”
The tickets were later withdrawn from sale on eBay.
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