North East MP urges ministers to crack down on ticket touts

Ticket touts are causing misery for fans - and damaging the economy, a North East MP has told Ministers

Flying Colours Photography Ltd Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West
Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West

Ticket touts are robbing music and sports fans of the chance to attend events, an MP has warned.

Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said touts bought up tickets in bulk and then sold them on at inflated prices which many fans could not afford.

And she said she was alerted to the problem when her daughter tried to buy tickets to see Take That - only to find it was impossible in practice to buy them at the official price.

Leading a Commons debate, Ms Hodgson warned that “parasitical” ticket touts could be harming Britain’s tourist industry by making it harder for visitors from overseas to attend events.

And she urged Ministers to consider cracking down on the trade, including taking measures to tackle websites which sell tickets on.

That would include forcing sites to state the face value of tickets, so potential buyers can see how much it was supposed to cost.

And sites should reveal how many tickets sellers have sold in the past - so it is clear to buyers whether they are dealing with someone who simply has a spare ticket they no longer need, or who buys up tickets in bulk with the intention of making a profit.

Setting out why she became concerned about ticket touts, Ms Hodgson said: “My daughter is a second generation Take That fan, and it was her sense of great unfairness that she hadn’t been able to acquire Take That tickets for us despite being sat online and ready to buy them the minute they went on sale, only to see those tickets on sale on other websites for many times the price just moments later, that alerted me to this scandalous practice.”

She added: “What I found that day was just the tip of this iceberg, because this happens week in, week out for music, comedy, sport and theatrical events up and down the country.

“It’s not just the Wembley arena gigs and international matches – the same situation affects small and medium capacity concerts in provincial towns and cities.”

But as well as upsetting fans, ticket touts were also hurting the economy, she said.

“There is a real concern that this kind of parasitical practice is detrimental to our creative industries.”

Many tourists who came to the UK from overseas wanted to go to the theatre or attend concerts or shows, she said - but they wouldn’t come back if the only way to get a ticket was to pay over the odds.

Touts appeared to be using sophisticated computer systems to buy up tickets online as soon as they went on sale, she said.

But nothing was done even though police had warned it sometimes acted as a front for organised crime and fraud, she said.

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