Frustration as Luton music fans say priority booking system for BBC 1's Big Weekend tickets 'didn't work'

Priority was given to Luton borough postcodes
Who are you most excited to see? Picture: BBCWho are you most excited to see? Picture: BBC
Who are you most excited to see? Picture: BBC

Music fans living on the border of Luton town’s boundary were left disappointed after their postcodes weren’t recognised as they scrambled to get tickets for BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend.

Scores of residents living in Caddington, Woodside, Slip End and other villages surrounding the Luton Borough Council border were devastated after having no luck getting their hands on festival passes.

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Tickets for the event next month were geographically weighted with 40 per cent of them put into ‘pot one’ – giving priority to those living in LU1 to LU4 postcodes. Pot two was reserved for those in “the surrounding areas” – the remaining “LU postcodes (LU5 to LU7), all ‘HP’ postcodes, all ‘MK’ postcodes, all ‘SG’ postcodes and all ‘AL’ postcodes.” The final 30 per cent of tickets went to the rest of the UK.

Maria Cartwright was one of those who failed to secure tickets to the event, despite living only 20 minutes away from Stockwood Park, the same park she got married in. She said: “I live near the park so I know there is going to be noise and traffic, and people probably parking outside our home. But we were okay as we were hoping to get tickets to go.”

Maria lives in LU4 and, according to the BBC’s ticket guide, should have had her postcode accepted in the pot one section. But after attempting multiple times on the release date, Maria tried again days later and had her postcode accepted for pot three tickets. But they had already sold out.

Carla Dance, from Caddington, had a similar issue: “I joined a queue as soon as the tickets were available, but without success. It's amazing – and so disappointing – that there were no tickets available at such an early stage for priority postcodes.”

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In a statement, the BBC said: “There is always huge demand for tickets for Big Weekend, and whilst they were available to everyone, priority was given to the postcodes of Luton Borough Council who are our partners for the event.”

But it has not responded to claims LU1 postcodes were not recognised for pots one and two.

Another devastated resident said: “I live 10 minutes' walk away from Stockwood Park in Woodside so thought it would be amazing to go. After about half an hour I got through and put in my postcode, and it said there was an error. I tried it in capitals without spaces, as directed, and every other way just in case.

“Then I made sure it was 100 per cent correct and just kept pressing enter. I was trying for about 10 minutes. Then suddenly it seemed to accept it and a loading symbol appeared... which never ended. At 11pm I finally gave up. Meanwhile, two of my friends in LU1 who were behind me in the queue had got tickets by trying other Luton postcodes like LU4. None of the LU1 ones seemed to work.”

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Also affected was Jerry Perritt. He said: “When I got on the site it would not accept my LU1 postcode. I kept trying but eventually it threw me out and I had to re-enter the queue by which time there were 80,000 people in front of me. Really disappointed as I was desperate to get Sunday tickets.”

Janine Hayes added: “Very disappointing as 40 per cent of tickets were reserved for our postcodes so we shouldn’t have had such an issue attempting to get them.”

Vicky Tomlin has an LU1 postcode, which she says also did not work when booking. She said: “I don't know anyone in Caddington that actually got tickets for the Sunday, only people that live in LU2 or other areas. I am so disappointed and I would really like to know what happened.”

Luton Borough Council said it was unable to comment, as the BBC handled ticket allocation.