People living outside Leicester 'should pay more for tickets at Curve and De Montfort Hall'
People living outside Leicester should pay more for tickets at Curve and De Montfort Hall than city residents, a senior councillor has suggested.
Councillor Sue Waddington said it may now be time to consider a pricing scheme that reflects the amount of public subsidy given to the city's major venues.
Coun Waddington is chairman of a Leicester City Council panel which has spent the past few months reviewing grants given to venues and is due to present a report on the issue to colleagues this week.
She said: "There is a feeling that city residents are subsidising audiences that are coming in from the county."
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While the city council puts large amounts of money into Curve and De Montfort Hall, Leicestershire County Council makes no contribution to either.
Last year, 45 per cent of Curve ticket bookings came from county residents, 39 per cent from the city and 16 per cent from further afield.
At De Montfort Hall, 33 per cent of it audiences last year were from the county, 48 per cent from the city and 19 per cent from elsewhere.
Coun Waddington said: "One of the things that could be considered is a differential price structure where county residents pay more than people who live within the city.
"Given the financial pressures on public funding, I think this could be looked at."
Coun Waddington accepted the proposal could be controversial and said it might be better if the county council reinstated its financial contribution to Curve.
In the last financial year, it scrapped its £88,000 subsidy to the theatre. It has never made a contribution to De Montfort Hall.
The city council puts £818,000 a year into Curve and more than £1 million into De Montfort Hall.
Curve chief executive Fiona Allan said she was wary of charging people different rates depending on where they lived.
She said: "Some theatres have tried this but my view is we want to be encouraging people to come into the city to see performances because it benefits the economy.
"If we ask people to pay more because they live outside the ring road, it might put them off coming, especially because they have the added expense of travel.
"I think a better way of doing it would perhaps be to offer discounts to city residents for special events rather than having something across the board."
Deputy county council leader Byron Rhodes said: "It is a ridiculous suggestion without any logical foundation.
"I could understand the city council wanting to subsidise tickets for its residents, but the idea of charging people from the county more would simply encourage them to look elsewhere for entertainment, such as Nottingham, Birmingham or Peterborough.
"That would mean the bars and restaurants in the city would also lose out."
Imran Patel, 42, from Highfields, Leicester, said: "I don't think its right that my council tax pays for people from Market Harborough or Melton to go to the theatre, especially as I have only been to Curve once.
"It would be better if there were no subsidies to theatres. They should stand on their own two feet."
Helen Phillips, 43, of Cossington, said: "Why price out your best customers?
"Would it not be better for the city council to get more people from the city into the theatres rather than penalising those who make the effort to travel into the city?
"That seems wiser to me."