A WIRRAL woman has said she was "disgusted by the manner of some of the staff" after the M&S Bank Arena was evacuated during an S Club concert on Monday (October 30).

Grace Bambrough, from Wallasey, arrived at the arena for the concert just before 8pm with her friend, where she said there were "no queues and everyone was required to go through a metal detector" and "all bags were inspected by the security guards". 

The concert had previously been cancelled due to a "fire in the arena" and was re-scheduled which Grace explained was "annoying" as it had moved from a Friday to a Monday and she had work the next day.

Speaking to the Globe about the concert, she said: "The show was really good, the performance was entertaining; everyone was dancing and enjoying their night.

Wirral Globe: S Club concertS Club concert (Image: Grace Bambrough)

"The arena wasn’t that busy, on our whole row there were two other people, and seats were visibly empty across the whole of the arena, we thought this may be due to the last-minute cancellation."

During one of the band's songs, Grace said how an "alarm started sounding".

"It was quiet and everyone thought it was part of the performance", the 23-year-old explained.

"Then an announcement was made over the public address system stating there were reports of a fire and to evacuate the building.

"Despite this no one responded and we didn’t think it was real, especially due to the band saying it was previously cancelled due to a fire," said Grace.

"This was when the lights went out and my friend and I realised the seriousness of the situation and left, many people still remained seated, not understanding what was happening."

'Mentions of the Manchester Arena attack'

Grace said: "As we were evacuating the arena we asked the arena staff if it was a real alarm or a drill and the staff member responded 'Do you think I’d be standing here if it wasn’t real?'.

"Once everyone was outside many people left the area immediately and no one knew what was happening. A group of people next to us were demanding communication from the arena staff and they were just ignored.

"At this point more people were getting scared and even mentions of the Manchester Arena attack were being discussed as no one had a clue what was happening and many people weren’t wanting to be within close proximity to the arena.

"My friend and I were disgusted by the manner some of the staff handled the situation, the lack of communication and rudeness of their response to our questions is not what we would expect, especially given how scary the situation was."

After 10 minutes, Grace and her friend, along with the other attendees, were told they could re-enter the arena.

Grace added: "Even at this point we heard no announcement, we could just see people re-entering.

"Although security appeared tight when we first arrived, when we were allowed back in there were no security checks - presumably because there was only a few songs left and they wanted everyone in as quickly as possible.

"The lack of security checks was worrisome, especially since we still didn’t know why the fire alarm sounded and many people didn’t re-enter the venue."

Wirral Globe: The arena after everyone was allowed back inThe arena after everyone was allowed back in (Image: Grace Bambrough)

Back-of-house sensor triggered...

Faye Dyer, chief executive of The ACC Liverpool Group, said: "During the S Club concert a back-of-house sensor was triggered which led to the arena being appropriately evacuated.

"Our safety systems are comprehensively tested and fully certified and responded appropriately, but for reasons we are yet to fully understand our house lights did not automatically turn on as programmed which meant our manual systems were activated, resulting in a short delay. 

"We can confirm that at no point were fire exits blocked, however due to the location of the activation, our stewards directed individuals away from some arena floor fire exits towards others while the source of the activation was investigated.

"Customer security checks were carried out prior to the show and - as customers remained in very close proximity to the arena for a short amount of time, on private land monitored by CCTV and with additional visual checks put in place for re-entry - the decision was made for them to return to the arena so the show could resume. 

"A full check of the arena and systems was carried out in the meantime with the event deemed safe to continue.

"The safety of our customers is our number one priority; however we understand the customer experience was not in line with our high standards on this occasion and for that we are sorry.  We wish to thank the band and the audience for their patience and cooperation.

"We are proud that incidents of this nature remain rare over the past 15 years of hosting successful live events."