Council spent £91k on torch visit

The Olympic Torch makes it's way through Ackworth.Torch bearer Mick Cordall.'p301e226
The Olympic Torch makes it's way through Ackworth.Torch bearer Mick Cordall.'p301e226

Wakefield Council spent more than twice the national average to bring the Olympic torch to the district last summer.

Figures published this week revealed the council spent £91,000 on the event on Monday, June 25, last year.

Thousands of people lined the streets to welcome the torch through Pontefract, Caslteford and Ackworth and it was carried proudly by sporting champions, community figures and those who had overcome adversity and disability.

But figures obtained by using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act showed the national average was just over £40,000, with Yorkshire’s average closer to £34,000.

Highways issues, such as managing road closures, cost £62,000, and £2,600 was spent on waste management.

Entertainment cost £2,525, volunteers cost £2,265, health and safety cost £1,556 and £1,000 was spent on legal costs.

FOI officers at the council said there was an economic benefit to the community which could not be quantified.

Coun David Dagger (pictured, inset), cabinet member with responsibility for sport, said: “We were proud to welcome the Olympic torch relay to the district. This provided an opportunity to showcase nationally what Wakefield has to offer as well as giving residents the chance to get involved with a major sporting event. The public support was overwhelming.

“The success of the Olympics and Paralympics has given us one of the greatest opportunities we have ever had to encourage people to take up sport and physical activity. We are now continuing to build on this legacy for us and future generations to be proud of.”

Flick Rea, chairperson of the Local Government Association’s culture, tourism and sport board, said: “The cost to each council could be affected by many things. Few, if any, meaningful conclusions can be drawn by comparing expenditure on an issue with so many variables.”