Town cuts back on Olympic decorations because of ‘excessive costs’

THE high cost of Olympic banners imposed by London 2012 officials has forced Huntingdon to scale back its celebrations in the town.

Town councillors have agreed to cut back the number of banners, which are due to fly on lampposts in the town centre, from 36 to 12 because of the large sums of money involved.

A batch of 12 flags will cost the local authority nearly �2,680.

The banners, which measure 0.8metres by 2.2m, will be put up two weeks ahead of the Olympic torch relay and will remain until the games close on September 9.

The torch is due to pass through St Ives and Huntingdon on Sunday, July 8, as part of its 8,000 mile, 70-day tour of the UK’s towns and cities.

Members of the town council’s leisure and community services committee agreed to cut back the spending at a meeting on Thursday. The council has set aside a combined budget of �15,000 for Olympic torch and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee decorations.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Jennifer Sarabia said: “Looking at the cost, it did seem very expensive. You cannot create your own banners: you have to put up ones from the Olympics committee.

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“We just though it was too expensive, considering we are cutting costs everywhere that we can at the moment.”

Last month, there was outcry after it emerged that rules imposed by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) meant Olympic flags could not be flown alongside those of the Armed Forces Day on June 30.

In St Ives, councillors have agreed to put up 12 Olympic lamppost banners, 10 flags and two cross-street banners for a cost of �3,565. But they have been banned from flying an Armed Forces Day flag from the Town Hall.

Olympic flags and banners can be bought only from LOCOG, and they can be put up only on public buildings and street furniture.

Workers from LOCOG are responsible for putting them up and taking them down. The price includes the cost of their labour and fixtures and fittings. An additional five per cent levy will be put on orders for decorations submitted after February 24.

In addition to the lamppost banners, Huntingdon town councillors are looking to spend �68.25 for an Olympic flag to be flown from the Town Hall’s flag pole.

And the flowerbeds at Hartford Garden of Rest and Bridge End will be dressed in Olympic-style. Plans are at the end of the games to raffle off some of the decorations for residents.

For the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in Huntingdon there are proposals to hold a mayoral banquet at the Town Hall and an RAF flypast, both on June 2.

Preparations are also under way for the lighting of the beacon on Castle Hill on June 4.