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LOO MUST BE JOKING; EXCLUSIVE; Bus driver wins R&A fee battle; EXCLUSIVE; R&A back down after demanding bus drivers pay PS75 to use toilets at Open; Bus driver wins R&A fee battle; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: Charlie Gall

A PART-TIME bus driver from Aberdeen has won a long-running battle with the R&A before a golf ball is even struck in today's Open Championship.

Neil Edmonstone, 53, kicked up a stink when he found he and fellow drivers were barred from taking a pee unless they stumped up the PS75 entry fee.

But the bunkered bus driver refused to take no for an answer when he received a blunt rebufffrom the ticket manager for golf's governing body in St Andrews Karen MacLeod told him in an email: "I am afraid no one can enter The Open venue without a ticket. "Therefore if drivers are parking up for the day, they will not be able to go and buy food or use toilet facilities as these are all within the paygates.

"They would have to purchase TURN TO PAGE 2

FROM PAGE 1 a ticket. Regards, Karen." Furious Neil, administrator of the Coach Drivers Name and Shame Facebook page which has 1394 members, turned to the Daily Record's Aberdeen Now for help.

And within 24 hours the R&A, famous for their rigid adherence to the rules, had performed a dramatic about-turn.

It means that, as of today, coach drivers turning up for the four-day championship event at Muirfield, near Edinburgh, will get to use toilet facilities for free.

An Open Championship spokesman said: "We provided facilities for coach drivers after this issue was brought to our attention.

"And we are now considering food and refreshment facilities in this location. We will look at this again for next year."

Later a well-placed source told Aberdeen Now: "It was something we were looking at but the complaint from the driver was a reminder.

"We moved quickly to sort it out."

Last night Neil, who lives in the village of Muchalls, near Stonehaven, hailed our intervention and claimed a "victory for the wee man over snobbery".

Neil, a part-time driver with Aberdeen-based Whyte's Coaches, said: "Our Facebook page is a moan and groan type site for drivers to air their common grievances.

"One of the things which came up was the Open because of the fact they wouldn't allow us in to use the toilet and grab a sandwich unless you pay the entry fee.

"If each coach is full we are taking about PS4000 to them in revenue.

"Do the maths - 49 people to a coach times the entry fee. Add on what they will spend once they're inside the gates.

"Unless the driver is a big golf fan there's no way they're going to pay to get in. It would wipe out our wages.

"They're effectively telling us that it's PS75 to go to take a pee. It's the principle of the matter - snobs."

Neil first highlighted the problem three years ago when the Open was held at the home of golf, St Andrews.

He said: "We turned up and they parked us in this great, huge field.

"I asked the security guy where we could go to the toilet and he said 'Oh no, there's nothing for you'. Nothing to eat, nothing. So I asked if we could go in and he replied 'No, you're not getting in'.

"I went to the gate and asked if I could nip in to use the toilet and again the answer was 'No'.

"It was a case of pay the PS50 or whatever it was back then and we would get in. I said it was ridiculous.

"I emailed the R&A three years ago but they never replied. This time they did but it was still a no until the Daily Record stepped in."

Neil contrasted their treatment by the R&A with the attitude of the European Tour, organisers of the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, near Inverness.

He said the treatment of drivers at last weekend's event was "first class".

"It was a case of 'In you come, free parking, and on to the course'.

"They even let the drivers in to watch the golf, and we don't have to pay for parking either.

"It's typical of the snobby attitude of the R&A. Parking a coach for the day at The Open is PS40. Buses can opt to drop offand pick up on Broadgait Road near the main paygates.

FROM PAGE 1 a ticket. [...]

The answer was still a no until the Daily Record stepped in

CAPTION(S):

Sign Muirfield will host this year's tournament

Complaint Driver Neil took issue with R& A entry rule

Open venue Aerial view of course section and marquee facilities at Muirfield
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Title Annotation:Features; Front Page
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 18, 2013
Words:763
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