Olympic torch relay cost revealed

The Olympic torch making its way through the streets of St Helens
The Olympic torch making its way through the streets of St Helens
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THERE were worries that it might prove a damp squib, that no-one would turn up - in the event a tidal wave of support swept the Olympic torch through St Helens.

And this week, the cost to each local authority in hosting the famous sporting emblem was made public for the first time.

May 31, 2012, is a day that many will never forget as tens of thousands of St Helens folk lined the street to catch a glimpse of the torch as it wended its way across the country on a relay featuring more than 8,000 runners.

And the party thrown and the arrangements made to marshal the event cost St Helens Council £15,276.

A Freedom of Information Act request to every local authority in England revealed that this was quite a modest sum compared with some other parts of the country.

Blackpool, for instance, spent more than £43,000 (and horrendous weather ruined some of their festivities), Camden in London splashed out £123,000; and of those councils which responded to the requests for details, Waltham Forest, also in London, topped the table with a massive £279,000.

At the other end of the scale Trafford managed to spend just £1,500. Most authorites, other than those covering whole counties, ran up a bill of between £15,000 and £50,000.

St Helens Council helpfully gives a breakdown of its torch relay spending.

Promotion and decorating the route came to £6,814;
traffic management were £2,347; equipment costs were £972.

Unlike neighbouring council Wigan, who secured £4,500 in external sponsorship, the entire sum was met by St Helens Council.

A council spokesman said the cash had been well-spent and helped create a carnival atmosphere.

He added: “The torch relay captured the imagination of the borough - with over 40,000 people turning out to watch it come through St Helens.

“Just as importantly it supported London 2012’s stated aim of ‘inspiring a generation’ – and acted as a focal point for local initiatives involving many local schools and sports clubs.

“Many of these are ongoing - and we have seen significant increases in the number of people using sports facilities following the games.”

g What do you think? Write to us at Letters, St Helens Reporter, Claughton Street, St Helens, WA10 1Rl, email andy.moffatt@jpress.co.uk or comment online at sthelensreporter.co.uk