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Why is the Torch ignoring our heritage?

May 10, 2012 2:03 PM

Conservative (Tory) Torch logoThe Heritage Journal asked the question of WC leader Jane Scott. The council thinks the visits of the torch will create lots of international media attention for the settlements on the route. This may be naive given that the torch in its seventy long days crossing the UK is unlikely to the main news across the world on many of those days, but a visit to Avebury or Silbury Hill might have made an impact. See what they say at:

http://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/dear-wiltshire-council/

And here's Jane's reply:

"The council has been in discussion with LOCOG (The Olympic Games governing body) for over 2 years, and made a strong and robust bid for the torch relay to visit the most iconic and historic parts of the county. In fact a bid was made to start the nationwide relay from Stonehenge.

Whilst we were delighted to hear that the torch would visit the county over 4 days in May and July and would include an evening event in Salisbury, the decision where the torch would visit was the final decision of LOCOG and had no input from the council, other than the initial discussions where the key locations were highlighted. We were extremely surprised that Stonehenge was not chosen as the start point and even more surprised that it was not a location on the route and that many of our other iconic towns and areas were also not included.

We have, subsequent to the route announcement, been in contact with LOCOG regarding several possible route changes and additional stops/visits and we received the correspondence in response from LOCOG, as highlighted below;

It's great to hear that Wiltshire is planning to embrace the Olympic spirit and has such creative floral plans to celebrate. However it is not possible to change the route to include other towns/places.

Our ambition was to deliver an Olympic Torch Relay that takes the Flame to within a one hour journey time of 95% of the population and as such we are inviting everyone to begin planning their celebrations to mark the historical moment the Olympic Flame visits their local area.

The Olympic Torch Relay lasts for just 70 days and it is simply not possible to go everywhere due to geographical and time constraints. Our desire is to reach as many communities as possible and this has to be balanced with logistical considerations such as route distances, traffic movement, length of day and operational feasibility.

The locations directly on the route were selected after extensive UK-wide consultation with representatives from each Nation & Region over the last two years, including in Wales. We held workshops involving local authorities and local representatives of the tourism, heritage, sustainability, culture, education, and sport sectors before setting up Advisory Groups with representatives from these sectors in every English region and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support us in developing an operationally feasible route.

With the arrival of the flame on 18 May 2012, the Torch Relay team are undertaking the final stages of detailed operational planning with the local authorities and transport and security planners. This means changes to the route are not possible. Thank you for your understanding and support with this. - Advance Manager, Torch Relays

We have been informed that there will be a photo shoot at Stonehenge at sunrise on 12 May and that this will be an iconic photo used worldwide as part of the Olympic Torch Relay and promotion. We are looking forward to welcoming the Olympic Torch relay to Wiltshire and recognise that the media attention will be vast and is likely to be worldwide. The towns receiving the torch are working hard to showcase what makes them special and we hope that this will encourage people to visit and spend time in our beautiful and historic county.

I hope this response provides some clarity regarding the decision as to where the torch will go and that this decision is LOCOG's.

I do share your concerns and would like to reiterate that we did lobby hard for Wiltshire and for the key iconic locations to be included, but we are pleased that the torch will visit Wiltshire on two separate occasions, which is unique and a great opportunity for the county."