We’re being kept in the dark over torch

OLYMPIC organisers have been accused of keeping local leaders out of the loop by discussing plans for north Northumberland’s 2012 celebrations behind closed doors.

The Olympic torch is due to arrive in Alnwick on June 14 next year, where it will be accompanied by a Radio 1 roadshow and carnival-style entertainment which will run until midnight.

But members of Alnwick Town Council made their frustration clear to Neil Bradbury, the councillor in charge of culture at County Hall, who has been given the job of co-ordinating the celebrations at local level. At their monthly meeting they expressed serious concerns at the lack of information coming from the authority, which is in direct contact with the London 2012 Organising Committee (Locog) but has been sworn to secrecy over any firm details.

Even the route of the torch through the county has not yet been divulged, while the location of Alnwick’s keynote party – the only one to take place in Northumberland – is also under wraps.

Deputy Mayor, Coun Geoff Watson, said: “I would express my disappointment at the lack of consultation up to this point. We are hearing of discussions taking place between Locog and the county council, but we have not been asked for any input.”

Coun Bruce Hewison added: “We’re being asked to consider a major event which is the only one in the county, yet we don’t even know where it’s going to take place. That raises great concerns.

“The county council has known for a couple of months what is planned, but we still have no idea. We’re completely in the dark.”

Coun Jim Thompson said: “I fully understand the need for confidentiality, but I have been asked by numerous individuals what is going to happen when the torch comes to Alnwick.

“As of this moment, I can’t give them an answer, which is extremely frustrating.”

Coun Bradbury said: “Locog is very excited about Alnwick, that’s what they are saying to us. At the same time, they have a lot of rules about the torch route and how it works. I would love to be able to tell you more, but they release information to us as they see fit and demand that we don’t release it until they see fit.

“There will be consultation and we have set up a task force to look at the Alnwick celebrations. We can’t tell you yet where the event will take place, but members who attend the task force will be able to take a tour of the venue.

“Locog will not be releasing the actual route the torch will take through Northumberland until the autumn.”

Mayor Alan Symmonds and Coun Eileen Blakey were elected by the council to attend the first task force meeting on Tuesday, with Coun Graeme Knox as reserve.