Labour London Assembly Member John Biggs has called on Boris Johnson to explain why tickets for the London New Year’s Eve fireworks display were being resold by online ticket touts for up to £500 each; fifty-times their face value of £10. The Mayor recently took the decision to make this year’s event ticketed for the first time since it was established in 2003, and since tickets went on sale last Friday, touting websites have been cashing in, with tickets on sale over the weekend for £500 each.
When questioned about measures to stop touting prior to ticket launch, the Mayor was unable to say whether a strategy had been put in place. The Greater London Authority issued 100,000 tickets for the event to limit numbers around the River Thames during the display, with the Mayor arguing that the £10 cost of each ticket would “barely cover the cost of the ticketing”.
Last week, John Biggs’ colleague, Fiona Twycross AM, wrote to the Mayor to ask why no system appeared to be in place to prevent the public from being ripped off by touting, particularly given anti-touting procedures are now common for many events and were implemented successfully during the London Olympics.
Labour London Assembly Member for City & East London John Biggs said:
“Last year the New Year’s Eve fireworks attracted half a million people, yet the Mayor has only released 100,000 tickets for this year’s event. With 400,000 people set to be disappointed, it is clear there will be massive unfilled demand - making this event a ticket tout’s dream.
“This is a celebration funded entirely by the public through their taxes. It is bad enough that Boris Johnson wants to exclude many families from this event who will not be able to afford a £10 ticket; but it is absolutely shameful that no protection appears to have been put in place to prevent touting.
“Touting was successfully prevented during the London Olympics, so it would highlight an extraordinary level of carelessness if it emerges that these same policies weren’t automatically applied to this event as well. As a result of this failure we are seeing tickets gobbled up by touts set on cashing in on this fantastic event.”